Welcome to Darin DuVander's Digital Portfolio.

Please play and explore my page links and blogs below. Feel free to check it out and have fun, you aren't going to hurt anything. I intend to demonstrate the advances I have made through my studies in the Sonoma State Universities Masters program. My area of emphasis is Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning with a focus in Educational Technology. I have developed connections through my use of Sculpture and Tinkering, to promote a learning environment for my future students that is accessible to a wide range of learners and learning styles.
SSU Masters in Education Reflection

How It All Started:

To be honest, my pursuit of an MA in education was a complete accident. I originally submitted an application for the SSU credential program. I made it very clear that my application was incomplete because I had not had my fingerprints done yet. The students at the desk said, "No problem". A week or two later I received an e-mail stating that I was denied because I had submitted an incomplete application and that I could not re-apply until the following semester. To my wife's and my joy, our son, Joey, had been accepted to the Children's School at SSU. We were extremely happy that he would be able to participate in such a great preschool education. However, I had to be enrolled in classes in order for him to go. So, I applied to the MA program thinking that I would go for one semester and then re-apply for the credential program. I was accepted and the journey that lay before me was so invigorating that I couldn't help but continue my path in the MA program and continue to pursue the rich learning environment that I found myself within.

Changing My Mind About the Way We Teach:  

While my BA in Liberal Studies program for teachers had prepared me to think outside the box, I was prepared to jump into the standardized public school system and fall into the outdated system that so many students struggle to be successful within. My MA classes, especially my educational technology classes, made me realize that I really would not be happy just following the herd. I also realized that I wanted to give students something better than the standard. More importantly, I realized that there is a vast variety of highly successful teaching methods that children engage with at a much greater level of interest than the practices of the institutionalized school system.

Tinkering Became a Passion:

I have come to believe that it is extremely important to accommodate students’ needs in a way that puts curricular subject matter into a context that develops the interest necessary for students to actively engage in the subject matter and promotes deeper understanding of all curricular subjects. I have learned the best through my trials and errors of hands-on tinkering projects. Tinkering promotes the development of well rounded individuals capable of adapting to whatever life throws at them and provides opportunity for a variety of subjects to present themselves in a context that the subject is applicable to. Developing a base understanding of concepts through play and tinkering can allow for much more in depth discussion and understanding of curricular subject matter. Academic subjects can be bridged through teacher/mentor discussion and trial and error. There are bountiful examples of how tinkering projects and hands-on activities address the academic subject matter that is the focus of our school systems and can be further explored on my Tinkering page. Click here for the summarized page or see it above. Click here for the full document via Google docs.

Where Do I Go From Here?

I am trying to decide if I want to incorporate this array of successful teaching methods, including my concepts of tinkerer and maker culture, into the existing school system or if I want to create my own program that is less restricted by such a standardized system. I am currently leaning toward a mixture of the two until I can develop a strong basis in the learning/teaching community.

The RumbleDrumTrumpet


Often referred to as the Dr. Seuss bike, pictured to the left, is one of my personal tinkering projects. 

It has been featured in the Sonoma County Bicycle Expo, was used as a fundraiser for the 500 mile California aids awareness bicycle race to L.A., and has been demonstrated at high schools such as Cloverdale High as a useful academic tool. One of my goals is to introduce tinkering into the United States schooling system as a useful method of promoting Howard Gardner's multiple-intelligences as a way to successfully reach more students than the traditional classroom. The main idea is to make connections between academic studies and the entirely different life situations outside of the institutionalized schooling system. Students need to be able to make connections of how academic study applies to life outside of school. I argue that tinkering is a means to this end.

My ideas of tinkering follow Henry Jenkins' theories of Participatory Culture and I therefore argue that it will be successful in creating an environment in which students will be engaged and successful both in learning and creating or what Jenkins refers to as being Prosumers (combination of consumer and producer).

One goal is to introduce the ideas that Gever Tulley demonstrates in the following video into public settings, such as public schools, that allow all children access regardless of financial limitations.