3… 2… 1… Blast-Off
“Takeoff and landing are the most thrilling part of a trip on an airplane.”-The Martians in Your Classroom
Stepping into a new role this year has me a little on edge. I have all of these ideas and plans, but I know that others are going to look at me like I am a Martian! The Martians in Your Classroom: STEM in Every Learning Space written by Rachael Mann and Stephen Sandford confirms that I am doing what is best for “Gen Mars” (the students of today). According to the book, Gen Mars students are the students who are sitting in our classrooms today: full of inquiry and curiosity. So, I am left with the question posed in the book, “How do we prepare Gen Mars for a world that will continue to change exponentially?” In developing this GenMars Mindset with your students, here are four ways to be inspired.
Look Through the Telescope
“In the Martian Classroom, students learn to communicate and use their voice to make an impact, both in person and virtually, to share ideas globally.”-The Martians in Your Classroom
How are we teaching this mindset in our classrooms? If we were to look through a telescope into space, we would be amazed at the sights. I remember the first time I looked through a telescope, I was in awe. I could see the pieces and parts that create the bigger picture. Our classrooms are no different. As we plan, with the bigger picture in mind, our Gen Mars students need to be creating, inventing, discovering, and failing as they are mastering the parts and pieces.
See The Constellation
“Invention is the twin of discovery.”-The Martians in Your Classroom
Creating an abstract picture through innovation and discovery, I am ready for my students to inventio (invention and discovery in one creative act.) This is rarely a pretty picture as students are discovering and learning about themselves through the invention process. If we want our students to be successful, we are going to have to let them take the seat to discover their own journeys, even if that means having a risk of failure.It all boils down to passion and how much passion our students have in what they are working on. “Having the willingness to go after something and put in the hard work, regardless of the guarantee of success or acceptance of the ideas is part of the process.”
Notice The Stars
“One of the most important discoveries in the Martian Classroom is that ideas are built on other ideas. Ideas become inventions.”-The Martians in Your Classroom
The stars are unique in their own ways. Some of us marvel at them when the skies are clear and all is calm. And the others, take them for granted; passing by them without a glance. We, as educators, must bring awareness to look at everyday items and be bothered by the normal. It is a mindset that needs to be re-thought as, What else could I use this for? How could I change this to help others? How do we cultivate this atmosphere in our classrooms to impact our students? We model, give opportunities, and time to discover. “Challenge students by giving them assignments that they do not have an answer key, questions that still do not have answers.” Also, we have to tap into the students interests and passions. Every one of our students are stars, unique in their own way; one size doesn’t fit all.
“Education aims at the boundaries of knowledge, not just the minor improvements.”-The Martians in Your Classroom
Exploration and Implementation. The vulnerable and scary part of this journey for many educators who may read this book… The What Now? We must believe. Be ready to fail. We must be models of reflection. Have the mindset of process over outcome. We must dedicate our classroom time to discovery and inventions. It is time to blur the boundaries and not teach in seclusion. We must collaborate and reach beyond our four walls to include other educators, the community, and our Professional Learning Network. While you may be completely overwhelmed, just imagine being the first person to think about traveling towards the moon.
I am grateful to Rachael and Stephen for this book as they are spreading the word that being a Martian should be a normal sight in a school. Wouldn’t you like to have a Martian as a teacher? Our future needs us to develop and lead Gen Mars to think beyond, be bothered by the status quo, and know how to find and solve the problems of the ever-changing world.
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”-Walt Disney
Jamie Chenault is a middle school technology instructor in Kentucky. She is a Google Certified Educator and Trainer, PBS Digital Innovator, and Apple Teacher. She loves spreading inspiration through her blog at jamie-chenault.com. Follow her on twitter @chenault_jamie.