Inquiry

Approaching learning with inquiry, choice, and student voice can increase the joy students experience in our classrooms. We  

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can let curiosity drive learning no matter the subject, discipline, or standard. Rather than students playing a more passive role in their learning, inquiry welcomes active exploration and hands-on experimentation and discovery. It opens up opportunities for self-reflection and for more than one right answer to not only be accepted but celebrated. Mackin Learning works to help schools make minor shifts in instruction, assessment, curriculum, and environment that can lead to major impact on student engagement and achievement. We believe that inquiry is fundamental to exceptional instruction. Therefore, we model the inquiry process in each workshop and promote collaboration and application for each educator who participates.

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Social
Justice

Social justice means equal rights and fair access to resources across all social groups. It is the absence of structural inequality.

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When inequality is structural, it means that your ability to access rights, resources, and opportunties is impacted by the social groups you belong to–your racial/ethnic group, your sex/gender/sexual identity, your socioeconomic status, your religion, your physical/mental ability, and the language you speak. A social justice lens can be applied to any subject and pushes us beyond simply valuing diversity, to empower educators and help students see a path towards a more equitable society.

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Diverse /
Inclusive Texts

In our quest to provide diverse and inclusive texts to our students, we must also be intentional about how we use texts that

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address social inequality issues. If we use our lessons to only focus on the characters or the craft, we miss an important opportunity to help them understand the world around them. When we lean into the complexity of a book, young people can be exposed to tough realities, with our support, before experiencing those issues in their own lives. We cannot prepare them for engaging in complex conversations if we avoid the complicated stuff in our classrooms. Utilizing contemporary texts with compelling, humanizing stories about diverse characters helps students wrap their heads around the abstract concept of social inequality. This is an essential skill for your students to learn and will help them become informed and empathetic community members.

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Maker
Education

Through making, students construct their own understanding of the world around them. Although there are many ways to

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describe Maker Education, Mackin Learning subscribes to the definition that includes anything a person creates that wasn’t there before. We believe that Maker Education’s power lies in the process, the experiences, and the lessons learned while making. As former educators we also know that relevant and practical ways to integrate this work into the fabulous things teachers are already doing with their students is imperative. This is the lens we use as we collaborate with schools and districts to cultivate the maker mindset.

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Literacy / ELA

Literacy in English/Language Arts and across disciplines is often narrowly defined as “the ability to read and write” when it could 

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more accurately be defined as  “learning  how to learn.” When we broaden our definition of both literacy and text (any content be it visual, audio, tactile) we empower students to use tools of literacy (reading, writing, collaborating, language) to deepen learning in any course. The broadened definition also promotes literacy across the learner’s day rather than confining it to an English/Language arts or reading class.  Informed by Dr. Jennifer McCarty Plucker’s research and extensive experience in literacy in K-12 schools, Mackin Learning partners with districts who are looking to enhance joy and improve outcomes for all their learners.

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Project Based
Learning

Project Based Learning (PBL) emphasizes inquiry, discovery, and student driven learning. It involves research, critical  

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thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication with authentic audiences. When teachers facilitate and guide students through PBL, engagement increases and learning becomes memorable. Mackin Learning’s PBL work draws from Lindsay Simmons’ experiences in the worlds of Art History and Museum Education, Maker Education, STEM/STEAM, as well as Dr. Jen McCarty Plucker’s research in motivating students in literacy and learning. Integrating PBL often leads to opportunities for braided standard instruction, inquiry driven learning, and authentic experiences. The synergy PBL creates benefits student and teacher teams alike. We partner with schools to assist in integrating PBL using flexible and practical strategies for engaging students.

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Student
Engagement

Student engagement is a critical component of the learning process. Over the last several years, researchers, practitioners, and

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thought leaders have pushed us to consider the science behind motivation and to reconsider many of our instructional approaches. Carol Dweck, John T. Guthrie, Daniel Pink, Steven Layne, Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels, and many more have asked us to rethink the use of carrots and sticks, consider student voice and choice, and examine the intersections between what motivates us as adults (autonomy, purpose, and mastery) and what motivates our students. Dr. Jennifer McCarty Plucker’s research has been centered on motivating and engaging adolescent learners in literacy and learning. Her practical case study insight has helped districts examine how they create conditions where striving learners can grow as readers, writers, thinkers, and scholars, actually enjoying the process along the way. The principles of student engagement are woven throughout all of Mackin Learning’s workshops and consultation services.

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Complex
Conversations

One of the most challenging aspects of teaching is navigating complex conversations on race, social class, gender, 

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sexuality, ableism, violence, and difficult history. When complex social issues are discussed in our classrooms, we often default to a “both sides” framing. However, this approach can leave our students feeling frustrated or more confused. What if, instead of encouraging our students to form their own opinions about complex social issues, we modeled for them how to ask better questions? We can model for our students how to talk about these issues in a “zoomed out” way, with a more emotionally safe distance from personal opinions. Whether we are talking about complex social issues as a planned part of the curriculum or they get brought up spontaneously by students who need to process what they are seeing in the news, we can use a sociological approach to support them as they process and explore complex issues.

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STEM /
STEAM

It is clear that technology is rapidly changing the way we all work. Although we do not yet know what jobs will be created  

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due to new, improving technologies and the needs of our world, we can say with certainty that STEM/STEAM will play a prominent role. Therefore, rather than separate and isolate Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics, it is essential that we guide students in exploring the connections that inherently exist between them. Through this hands-on interdisciplinary approach, students learn important twenty-first century skills such as creativity, innovation, critical thinking, collaboration, and grit. This also allows students to discover real-world applications and better prepares them for the future. Mackin Learning partners with schools and organizations to support them in understanding the need for STEM/STEAM learning and what it might look like for them.

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