Monday, February 17, 2014

Maker Culture and Maker Spaces

Snowy greetings everyone!

I really should take some pictures of these epic snow piles in my driveway before they melt. Sadly, I think they might actually get bigger before that happens! I'm proud of them though - I built them and their height makes me exercise harder every time I shovel!

While we are speaking of creation, how many opportunities are you giving students to do just that? When I frame a mundane and sometimes challenging task of shoveling in the perspective that I can create something with that, I actually derive some enjoyment, and the time flies.

Right or wrong, I've really tried to avoid worksheets, recipe assignments, quizzes, and tests. I put the focus on students making things, doing projects, and more recently, proving their learning in whatever way they can do that. I believe that offering students choices in this regard will lead to increased engagement and creativity, as well as improved learning outcomes because the students will be more invested in the product. It won't be something that I WANT them to do, at least solely.

I'm still struggling with allowing these choices and I know I don't do it right every time, but I firmly believe the engagement in my students has never been higher.

So where do maker spaces fit in here? For the uninitiated a maker space is a place where students can make. Wow, really? Yes, it is that simple. As I read and discuss, the maker space is really more a state of mind (like Maker Culture) than an area. Andrew Carle (@tieandjeans)  has been a great help and guide in this area and I appreciate how open he is on Twitter. Getting students in the mindset to create, whether it is with computers, blocks, metal, or Minecraft, it a powerful reframing of the educational paradigm. It puts the control in the students' hands and makes them agents of change in their own learning. And through this creation, students put in a lot more effort trying to figure out how to make that work, rather than being told they have to do this one specific thing.

I've witnessed this in too many classes and places (like the students who learned Xcode all on their own to create an app for our school) for it to be a fluke. And the stories on Twitter continue to demonstrate how powerful creation is. Will it cover all the content standards? Probably not. But will it create engaged, creatively empowered students who feel they have control over their education? I believe it will. Whether it is a choice in presentation tools, guiding kids in learning programming, messing around with gadgets, building objects and furniture, or 3D printing, get making today! You don't need to spend millions, you just need to spend the time to create the culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment