#Supermuch started by accident in January 2018 at a CUE Rockstar TOSA camp in Agoura Hills, California. As two of my co-presenters (Ann Kozma and Cate Tolnai) and I were getting into the car to head to the event, I attempted to say, “I am super excited for this weekend!” What came out of my mouth was, “I am supermuch excited for this weekend!” We shared a good laugh and started describing everything about the rest of the car ride as #supermuch. We determined that #supermuch needed to be “a thing” and that the whole weekend needed to be #supermuch. I shared with the conference attendees the happy-accident of its creation; #supermuch officially was born that weekend. The weekend, the learning, and the connections made were most definitely #supermuch. You can even see some of our fun on Twitter.
The beauty of #supermuch is how adaptable it is. Have you experienced a day that was much better than awesome? You just had a #supermuch day. Did your kids do something incredible? What they did was #supermuch. Did you eat a delicious meal? #supermuch. Are you hosting a giant lunchtime sticker exchange at an Ed Tech conference? Call it a #Supermuch Sticker Swap. See? It just works for everything.
— Ann Kozma 📱🌎📖 (@annkozma723) July 22, 2018
Describing everyday experiences in our lives as #supermuch is one thing, but I wanted to figure out a way to apply this concept to the classroom. I want to teach in a world where students say, “That class is #supermuch,” or “That lesson was #supermuch!” I want students to be so excited about learning and so engaged in the process of learning that they come to school every day thinking that they are #supermuch excited about what they will experience. As I thought about what makes a learning environment capable of fostering #supermuch experiences, three guiding principles surfaced. I have described these principles in the next section.
The Three Principles of a #Supermuch Classroom
#Supermuch is about engaging all learners. It’s about providing specific experiences that allow students to dive deeply into their learning. It’s about making, developing voice, and connecting with others. Incorporating the following three principles into the classroom will help to provide these opportunities for all learners. I’m going to drop some research on you in this section, but please stick with me. It’s important to understand that there is a body of research supporting each principle, which is why the principles are effective in making the classroom #supermuch.
Foster a culture of creativity and innovation by allowing students to build in both physical and digital makerspaces.
Fostering this type of culture begins with clear definitions of creativity and innovation. One of the most cited definitions of creativity (and one that resonates with me) was developed by Plucker, Beghetto, and Dow (2004). They define creativity as “the interaction among aptitude, process, and environment by which an individual or group produces a perceptible product that is both novel and useful as defined within a social context” (p. 90). Innovation, according to Dino (2017), is the successful implementation of this novel and potentially useful product (p. 26). Creativity and innovation, therefore, go hand-in-hand. Providing students with opportunities–analog and digital–to experiment with ideas and concepts that lead to the design, development, and implementation of novel and useful products is crucial. A makerspace is an ideal environment for this and can provide many academic benefits for students (in addition to fostering creativity). Martin (2015) states that “Making and building can foster learning in a variety of ways that mesh with long-established theories of how learning unfolds. For example, testing ideas out in the world allows one to check expectations against reality, a process that can create conceptual disequilibrium, and can, in turn, lead to conceptual adaptation (Piaget, 1950)” (p. 31). Martin (2015) also wrote that “Physical creations can also create a context for social engagement around a shared endeavor. This can bring more- and less-experienced participants together around a common task—a configuration that often proves fruitful for learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Vygotsky, 1978)” (p. 31).
Allow students voice and choice in demonstrating skills and sharing their understanding of ideas and concept.
Educational research indicates important benefits that can lead to increased student academic achievement when they are provided opportunities to have a voice in and to make choices with their education. Garn and Jolly (2014) indicated that, “environments that satisfy feelings of (a) self-endorsed actions (i.e., autonomy), (b) personal capacity for achievement and success (i.e., competence), and (c) reciprocal care for and with others (i.e., relatedness) produce high levels of self-determination” (p. 10). This self-determination (i.e., having a voice and having choices) can lead to students expressing a greater enjoyment of school, which ultimately can lead to higher achievement (especially among high-ability students, according to Garn & Jolly). Flowerday and Shell (2015) support the notion of increased student achievement brought about by student choice. They indicate that educational research (e.g., Patall, 2013; Patall, Cooper, & Wynn, 2010; Reeve & Jang, 2006) has shown that choice helps support student autonomy and intrinsic motivation (p. 134), which can lead to increased achievement. The work of Gonzalez, Hernandez-Saca, and Atilies (2017)–exploring the research on student voice conducted between 1990-2010–described the primary focus of much of this research as being in the area of student empowerment–“typically defined as agency, identity, self-awareness, and social consciousness” (p.468). Gonzalez, Hernandez-Saca, and Atilies shared that this student empowerment can lead to more democratic learning environments that are student-centered. A culture of voice and choice allows students to “share with a wide audience their ideas and the products they make in order to receive feedback, learn new skills and ideas, and to engage in reflection” (Green & Donovan, 2018, p. 233).
Provide opportunities to collaborate globally.
We live in an increasingly interconnected world. Our interconnected world has been brought about, in part, by networked technologies that enable individuals throughout the world to communicate and collaborate with relative ease. One result of this is that there are opportunities for our students to come in contact with individuals that have drastically different beliefs and ideas than their own. It is important that we prepare our students for this reality by providing them with opportunities to connect and collaborate productively with others outside their classroom. Research indicates that global collaborations can bring about new perspectives for students that help increase their sense of global connectedness (Lehtomäki, Moate, & Posti-Ahokas, 2015). Cook, Bell, Nugent, and Smith (2016) support this notion by indicating that global collaborations can have benefits for students that, “include writing and speaking for an authentic audience, the application of technology skills, cross-cultural empathy, and the development of a global perspective” (p. 22).
How is Your Classroom #Supermuch?
These principles provide the foundation for the #supermuch philosophy; it is important to note that they do not describe how this philosophy is implemented–the principles describe the necessary conditions needed for a #supermuch classroom. Implementation is a topic for a different conversation. Before this conversation begins, though, consider your own classroom. What are some #supermuch experiences that you already provide for students? In what ways is your classroom a #supermuch classroom? Please add to the #Supermuch Classroom Flipgrid (https://flipgrid.com/supermuch or use code ao8437) and share your ideas. You’ll find the conversation in the “YOUR #supermuch Classroom” topic. I can’t wait to hear from you!
Cook, L. A., Bell, M. L., Nugent, J., & Smith, W. S. (2016). Global collaboration enhances technology literacy. Technology and Engineering Teacher, 75(5), 20-25.
Flowerday, T., & Shell, D. F. (2015). Disentangling the effects of interest and choice on learning, engagement, and attitude. Learning and Individual Differences, 40, 134-140.
Garn, A. C., & Jolly, J. L. (2014). High ability students’ voice on learning motivation. Journal of Advanced Academics, 25(1), 7-24.
Gonzalez, T. E., Hernandez-Saca, D. I., & Artiles, A. J. (2017). In search of voice: Theory and methods in K-12 student voice research in the US, 1990–2010. Educational Review, 69(4), 451-473.
Green, T., & Donovan, L. (2018). Learning anytime, anywhere through technology: Reconsidering teaching and learning for the iMaker Generation. In Hall, G. E., Quinn, L. F., & Gollnick, D. M. (Eds.). (pp. 225-256) The Wiley Handbook of Teaching and Learning. Medford, MA: John Wiley & Sons
Lave, J., Wenger, E., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation (Vol. 521423740). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lehtomäki, E., Moate, J., & Posti-Ahokas, H. (2015). Global connectedness in higher education: student voices on the value of cross-cultural learning dialogue. Studies in Higher Education, 41 (11), 2011-2027.
Martin, L. (2015). The promise of the maker movement for education. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research (J-PEER), 5(1), 4.
Patall, E. A. (2013). Constructing motivation through choice, interest, and interestingness. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(2), 522-534.
Patall, E. A., Cooper, H., & Wynn, S. R. (2010). The effectiveness and relative importance of choice in the classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(4), 896-915.
Piaget, J. (1950). Explanation in sociology. Sociological studies, 30-96
Reeve, J., & Jang, H. (2006). What teachers say and do to support students’ autonomy during a learning activity. Journal of educational psychology, 98(1), 209-218..Plucker, J. A., Beghetto, R. A., & Dow, G. T. (2004). Why isn’t creativity more important to educational psychologists? Potentials, pitfalls, and future directions in creativity research. Educational psychologist, 39(2), 83-96.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher mental process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
Editor’s Note: This is a cross-posted piece originally seen at Come On, Get ‘Appy! You can see Jody Green in person at our upcoming Fall CUE 2018 Conference at American Canyon High School in Napa Valley, CA — October 13-14, 2018. Be sure to stop by the SuperMuch EdTech Sticker Swap at #FallCUE on Saturday between 11:45-12:30pm and bring your favorite stickers to trade!
Jody Green is an Academic Coach in Educational Technology for the La Habra City School District. Jody has been an educator since 1997. Jody has taught a variety of grade levels. Most recently, she spent 12 years teaching 6th grade at a middle school before becoming an academic coach. She is passionate about connecting classrooms and helping students and teachers amplify their voices using technology. Jody is a Google Certified Innovator, a Google for Education Certified Trainer, CUE Rockstar Faculty, CUE Lead Learner, Leading Edge Certified Professional Learning Leader, BreakoutEDU Authorized Trainer, Seesaw Ambassador, Book Creator Ambassador, and a Thinking Maps Trainer. Jody blogs at comeongetappy.com and she firmly believes that glitter makes everything better. Hot sauce, too.