Put yourself in your students shoes – I challenge you to make something!
Maker culture is built on the action of doing, making something. It is inherently personal, challenging and rewarding. All reasons why I adopted it into my teaching practice two years ago. During that time it has been getting more traction in the mainstream with more teachers and educators looking at how the principles and key concepts can be used to craft future focused learning experiences. Great!
Maker Ed is not a spectator sport – I challenge you to make something!
Professionally I saw Maker Ed as a way to streamline and personalise Technology learning for my students, a way to use the NZ curriculum to its full and awesome capacity focusing on key competencies and their relationship with the Technology strands. Personally it just seemed to fit with what I love to do – play, experiment and tinker with things. Make cool stuff. For me this started when I went to art school and although I was a painting/sculpture major I made some crazy things – a life-size wedding dress out of white chocolate, 100s of little houses made out of playing cards or 2m vinyl prints of pixelated paint blobs. Things got a bit next level in my post grad studies when I began experimenting with digital installations – especially as I had crazy ideas with absolutely no idea how to execute them – if only Instructables and Youtube were around. Bring on the (very) steep learning curve, a love for tinkering and ability to hunt out like minded people.
Last night I took part in the first #aussieED chat of 2016. I have occasionally participated in them but from Auckland, NZ the 10.30-11.30pm time slot on a Sunday night impacted on my cognitive abilities some what.
People shared there wins and fails from the past year and question 7 asked for you to share a book, concept or principle they would recommend.
Of course I would say Maker Ed, however I felt the need to add that it can’t be a spectator sport. I think there is real power for teachers to make themselves and I’m not meaning trying out the activity you have planned with your class, I mean think of something you want to make, think of something that is broken or doesn’t work the way you want it to – then see how it feels to design and create something to fix it. The struggles and most of all the real fails and then put yourself in a position to have to figure out your own next steps to fix this thing. We often talk about the need for our students to fail but I wonder when was the last time you truly failed at something – the kind of gut-kicking, annoying and frustrating fail when you really wanted something to work? And then how did you stick at it until it was complete?
So this is my challenge to you – make something you haven’t made before. Something epic, something small, it doesn’t matter but what does is putting yourself in the shoes of a learner. Try something and give yourself permission to fail. Remember what it feels like to need to push through not because someone tells you but because you really want to finish something.
This was something I made this time last year. I was exploring the idea of a recycling/upcycling unit but wanted to tech it up a bit – bring on the interactive mat. It’s made from upcycled T-shirts with conductive fabric pads stitched on top connected to insulated wires. These can be hooked up to a MakeyMakey to prototype. My original thought was to use it instead of my mouse in class but rather then finish it I shared it with my students at this stage and then decided to leave it as a prototype so students could tinker with it and often they would use Scratch to code it for whatever they wanted – movement or sound.
In class I would hook it up to my laptop and big screen and use it to take the roll on the first day of each cycle – talk about a discussion starter!