Professional Development

Professional Development, Parent, Student, or Community Events

In addition to this book and our world-class summer institute, Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez offer keynote addresses, workshops, and consulting services customized to meet the needs of your institution, community, or conference. Gary and Sylvia are expert educators with decades of experience in professional development, strategic planning, makerspace design, and classroom-based mentoring. (Current list of scheduled events)
Events – Your event is unique and so are our presentations. We will work with you to make sure that the presentation meets the needs of your audience – teachers, parents, school board members, students, or administrators.

Workshops – Piaget teaches us that knowledge is a consequence of experience. Therefore, any understanding of making and invention or ability to implement it effectively must be grounded in personal experience. All Invent To Learn workshops are hands-on experiences that showcase the power of making, tinkering, and engineering.

The following are a few of the keynote and workshop topics available. Also available: parent presentations, student/parent makerdays, community meetings, or leadership events.

For more information, email Please include type (workshop, keynote, consulting, etc.), approximate dates, location, and any additional details. We’ll get back to you ASAP!

Professional Development Topics


Workshops (custom, full, or half day)

Invent To Learn  (Full-Day Workshop)

TMI robotJoin colleagues for a day of hard fun and problem solving — where computing meets tinkering and design. The workshop begins with the case for project-based learning, making, tinkering, and engineering. Next, we will discuss strategies for effective prompt-setting. You will view examples of children engaged in complex problem solving with new game-changing technologies and identify lessons for your own classroom practice. Powerful ideas from the Reggio Emilia Approach, breakthroughs in science education, and the global maker movement combine to create rich learning experiences.

Participants will have the chance to tinker with a range of exciting new low- and high-tech construction materials that can really amplify the potential of your students. The day culminates in the planning of a classroom project based on the TMI (Think-Make-Improve) design model.

You will learn:

  • How new tools and technology can reinvigorate Project-Based Learning
  • Best classroom practices for integrating maker technology
  • How to plan engaging projects based on the TMI design model
  • How to choose the technologies with the maximum learning impact
  • How to make the case for making, tinkering, and engineering

IMG_2452Fabrication with cardboard and found materials, squishy electronic circuits, wearable computing, Arduino, robotics, conductive paint, and computer programming are all on the menu.

Bring a laptop and your imagination. We’ll supply the rest (craft materials, art supplies, construction elements). Invention is the mother of learning!

This workshop is suitable for all grades and subject areas.

Invent To Learn Workshop Handout Kit and TMI Robot Poster

(Groups of more than 20 participants may require an additional facilitator.) Invent To Learn books may be purchased at a discount to be used in conjunction with the workshop.


Making, Love, and Learning (Gary Stager Keynote)

Learning outside of school is being transformed by the trends of tinkering, maker culture and personal fabrication. Educators need to be mindful of this major shift in digital learning, married to craft traditions, and student agency to create productive contexts for learning.

The Maker ethos of constructionism, or learning-by-making through first-hand experience will be explored in the context of projects using a range of analog and digital “construction” materials. Children can now use technology to create and solve their own problems. Affordable tools and materials, such as 3-D printers, laser cutters, Arduino microntrollers, MaKey MaKey construction kits, conductive paint and wearable computing components allow students to go farther than was imagined just a few years ago. Junk, high-tech gear, art supplies and engineering principles collide to expand human potential.

Art and science converge and are amplified by computing. When the artificial boundaries between subject areas are blurred and every student requires the same process skills and tools, the distinction between vocational and academic education are obliterated. In order for schools to seize the opportunities afforded by this “Maker” spirit, educators need more than awareness that the world is changing. They need to develop new skills and redesign classroom environments to support learner-centered practices in order to prepare kids to solve problems their teachers never anticipated..

Making School Reform (Gary Stager Keynote)

The social and technological revolution known as the maker movement offers unprecedented opportunities to learn and amplify human potential. Making inspires education reform and schools require substantive change in order to maximize the affordances of learning through firsthand experience. Examples of making, tinkering and engineering, in and out of the classroom, will be shared in order to address five critical areas of focus for those interested in leveraging the maker movement to make schools more productive contexts for learning.

The five big ideas include:

  1. Elevated expectations for literacy
  2. A new mathematical diet for children
  3. Shaping the learning environment
  4. Kid power
  5. Continuous teacher growth

Lessons for K-12 Education from the Maker Movement (Sylvia Martinez Keynote)
The Maker Movement is a revolutionary global collaboration of people learning to solve problems with modern tools and technology. Adults and children are combining new technologies and timeless craft traditions to create exciting projects and control their world. The implications are profound for schools and districts concerned with engaging students, maintaining relevance, and preparing children to solve problems unanticipated by the curriculum. The technological game-changers of 3D printing, physical computing and computer science require and fuel transformations in the learning environment. K-12 educators can adapt the powerful technology and “can do” maker ethos to revitalize learner-centered teaching and learning in all subject areas.

Also available: Top Ten* Classroom Tools of the Maker Movement or with a STEM/STEAM emphasis.
This is a more tool-oriented approach to Invent To Learn, but still conveys the important message of how pedagogy and classroom environments can change to become more authentic. The asterisk is because there are many more than ten tools!

The Learning Revolution You Can’t Afford to Miss  (Gary Stager Keynote)
Learning outside of school is being transformed by several trends based on learning by firsthand experience. Several technological game changers are reanimating active learning, tinkering and apprenticeship. Hundreds of thousands and children and adults are coming together to celebrate creativity, ingenuity and invention in the context of projects using a range of analog and digital “construction” materials. For school leaders, the immediate challenge is to create productive contexts for learning where there are greater opportunities for inquiry, project-based learning and student leadership, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status. When the artificial boundaries between subject areas are blurred and every student requires the same process skills and access to tools, the distinction between vocational and academic education must be obliterated.

In order for schools to seize the opportunities afforded by rapidly expanding “maker” movement, educators need more than awareness that the world is changing. They need to develop new skills and redesign classroom environments to support learner-centered practices. New curricular diets may need to be created. School only serves 21st Century learners when it prepares them to solve problems that their teachers have yet to anticipate.

In this provocative keynote, Dr. Stager will provide examples innovative classroom practices and examples of students learning by doing with active knowledge construction. Advice for how schools may join the maker movement will be shared as well.

Electrifying Children’s Mathematics  (Gary Stager Keynote, Workshop or Online Course)
There may be no greater gap between a discipline and the teaching done in its name than when the beauty, power and mystery of mathematics become math instruction. One can only begin to address the systemic challenges of math education by understanding the nature of mathematics and the power of computing. Nearly 100 years of efforts to increase achievement with unchanged curricular content continues to fail spectacularly; yet, we do not change course. Surely, the widespread availability of computational technology demands new pedagogical approaches and a new diet of mathematics.

This keynote/workshop moves beyond the goal of making math instruction engaging for children by providing educators with authentic mathematical thinking experiences. Such experiences acknowledge the role computers play in mathematics and society’s increasing demand for computational thinking. Project-based approaches with mathematics at the center of the activity will be explored. Traditional concepts such as numeracy, geometry, probability and graphing will be investigated in addition to exciting new branches of mathematics rarely found in the primary grades.

This keynote/workshop is designed for teachers of grades K-8. It may also be offered as an ongoing course with a greater emphasis on curriculum development and action research.

Digital Reggio: Where Tinkering & Engineering Meet Progressive Education  (Gary Stager Half or Full-Day Workshop)
Participants will learn how the use of computational and constructive technology may be used in a fashion consistent with the principles of the Reggio Emilia approach Participants will explore how computers and robotics elements may be combined with traditional materials for inquiry-based knowledge construction by young children. Such digital materials expand the “hundred languages of learners.” Participants will expand their notions of what is possible with technology and young children as a means to construct knowledge, express creativity and amplify the potential of each young learner.

The Best Educational Ideas in the World – Tickets to Constructing Modern Knowledge (Gary Stager Keynote)

Program Abstract: There are places where the desires, talent and competence of children are nurtured, celebrated and respected. This presentation will take you on an expedition to some of the world’s best educational ideas. Each stop on the tour shares inspiration from learning contexts built upon young people’s remarkable capacity for intensity. These ideas provide a foundation for meeting the needs of each child, technology integration, increased teacher quality or the fuel for sustaining innovation. While viewed in isolation, these ideas might inspire incremental solutions to specific problems. Combined, they represent educational transformation.

Session Description: Stand on the shoulders of giants as you tour the best educational ideas in the world! Along the way you’ll explore Reggio Emilia, Fab Labs, El Sistema, 826 Valencia and more. Each “idea” shares common principles of natural learning, creativity, child competence, collaboration,, apprenticeship, authentic tools , relevance, serendipity, beauty, respect and technology used to amplify human potential. Lessons learned en-route create productive contexts for learning where students construct the knowledge required for a rewarding life. Principles of effective project-based learning will be shared.

Schooling has always been shaped by contemporary technology. Digital technology creates opportunities to learn what we have always expected of children, perhaps with greater efficacy, efficiency or comprehension. However, the real power lies in using the computers to learn new things in new ways that may have never been possible.

The challenge for even the most imaginative schools is to sustain innovation. While the technology may catalyze changes in practice, ideas bigger than the technology create a productive context for sustaining innovative practice. This presentation will explore some of the best educational ideas in the world and demonstrate how they may support or require transformational computing activities.

The big ideas may include:

• Reggio Emilia

• The Big Picture

• One Laptop Per Child

• Constructionism

• The Venezuelan Youth and Children’s Orchestra

• The Maker Movement

• Generation YES

• 826 Valencia

Workshop, Speaker, or Consulting Request

Email your request to Please include type (workshop, keynote, consulting, etc.), approximate dates, location, and any additional details. We’ll get back to you ASAP!

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