A JK-12 pluralistic school that engages students in an exemplary and inspiring general and Jewish education.

CESJDS STEM Teachers Attend Teacher Maker Institute for Educational Technology

Cassandra Ly

This summer, Director of Instructional Technology Ginger Thornton, Upper School STEM Coordinator Cassandra Ly, and teachers Terrilynn Platt and Rabbi Marci Aronchick attended a week long Teacher Maker Institute for Educational Technology in Palo Alto where they were immersed in STEM and the Maker Movement. Cassandra Ly has written a blog post about the experience to share the inner workings of the Institute! 

It was July 9, 2018 and fortunately, it was a beautiful California day and our first day of a week-long Teacher Maker Institute for Educational Technology in Palo Alto. Unfortunately, we were jet-lagged. Fortunately, so was everyone else…

Fortunately. Unfortunately.

These were two words that stuck with me after Stanford University’s Dr. Leticia Britos Cavagnaro facilitated an engaging workshop called “Predict the Future by Designing It: An Introduction to Design Thinking.” One activity Dr. Britos Cavagnaro led involved a game called Fortunately, Unfortunately. In pairs, we were asked to collaboratively tell a story.

Here were the rules: we had to take turns adding to the story. One of us had to begin every sentence with “fortunately,” while our partner had to respond with something that began with “unfortunately.”

I found this game challenging when I was the “unfortunately” person—not because it was difficult to come up with things to say, but because I felt bad for putting a negative spin on everything my partner suggested. I was being a Negative Nancy and I did not like it one bit. During the debrief that followed, we discussed the parallels between this activity and our lives as educators.

Whether we realize it or not, there are occasions when all of us, despite the best of intentions, have fallen into the role of being the “unfortunately” person. While it is important for us to explore an idea from different perspectives and analyze the logistics required for implementation, we have to be careful not to get lost in the clouds of excuses and obstacles.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have our “fortunately” people, and unfortunately, I know I tend to be one. Being over-eager and annoyingly optimistic presents its own dangers, namely, that we don’t always recognize the obstacles around the corner.  The point is, us “fortunately” people need “unfortunately” people in our lives and vice versa.

As we dive deeper into the Maker Movement of education, we have to work to find a balance between excitement about the movement’s possibilities and the anxiety of its potential challenges. This new approach to teaching incorporates hands-on collaborative learning that is project and problem-based, while emphasizing the importance of risk-taking and navigating ambiguity.

Unfortunately, as we learn to further embrace the Maker Movement, it won’t always be easy. But fortunately, we are already well on our way and we are in this together!