As educators we all strive for student engagement and student success. Sometimes, shortly after the beginning of the second semester, when students (and us!) are tired of winter, we hit a “wall”. The natives get restless in anticipation of spring. I am sure the #cozadMakers are not the only school system that experience this. We have always discussed ideas of how to regenerate our students at this time. Now, we don’t have a sure-fire answer but we recently had success at Cozad High School that has helped the February blahs and re-energized both our students and staff; in addition, we had some GREAT learning and student achievement--now that is what I call success! We called it Maker Fair 2015 (#makerfair15).
Our technology director (@dave_evertson) has always promoted NETA and ISTE Conferences to our leadership team. He firmly believes that the investment in sending administrators and teachers to these two educational conferences is one of the greater returns on an investment. Last summer we were fortunate to take 16 teachers and administrators to the ISTE 2014 Conference in Atlanta, GA. Our high school principal, assistant principal, and counselor brought back some great, innovative ideas for their building and the district. They were excited in improving our school culture. Our high school ed-tech group (Maker Movements) meets weekly to discuss our vision, goals, and actions at the high school. In the fall of the 2014-15 school year, Mr. Beckenhauer (@bill_beckenhauer) was excited about the Innovation Week session he heard at ISTE. Through many discussions we decided to try something like this at CHS on a smaller scale. We decided to offer a two-day activity in mid-February which would give students the opportunity to take part in courses that are not typically offered at CHS. The other decision was to create a team of teachers to plan and implement. This team took ownership and were awesome! I truly believe the success behind Maker Fair was the work and dedication of this team and the staff.
On February 5th and 6th CHS held their first ANNUAL Maker Fair. Students choose ½ day or full day classes. Staff and 21 community members taught 37 different sessions. Courses ranged from jelly making, robotics, taxidermy, self defense to football 101. It was awesome to see our teachers share their passions with our students. Comments such as “this is awesome”, “that was so cool”, “I want to do that again” could be heard in the hallways.What even made the day more exciting was all of the students and teachers tweeting and sharing their story. A CHS student tweeted after the first day “Learned so much today at #makerfair15 this should have happened years ago! #carstuff #selfdefense”.
After two days of Maker Fair, I felt re-engaged. Parents and community members shared with our administrators and staff that their children had talked more about school the past two days then they have in a long time. Not only did our students enjoy the two day, they learned so much. I am just so lucky to have been a part of this experience. Thank you to the students, teachers, administrators, community members, and presenters for your contributions to our Maker Fair.
For more information and a list of the courses available, please visit our school website post at: http://www.cozadschools.net/maker-fair-2015/. If you have time, take a look at the short video and see the opportunities and smiles of our students!
Mr. William Beckenhauer (@bill_beckenhauer), CHS Principal--"Maker Fair was everything I had envisioned it could be for the first time. From my original exposure and ideas I got from ISTE to the creation of the fair by the teaching staff, it was everything I had hoped it would be for students and teachers."
Mrs. Jann Kloepping, CHS Teacher--”Maker Fair was one of the most exciting two day events that we have experienced in several years!”