Making at Lighthouse see all posts
For the past three years, Aaron and I have been co-facilitating a two-day workshop called Designing Making Experiences where our goal is to introduce educators to making and maker-centric learning through designing curriculum and prototyping projects that they can take back and use in their classrooms. We teach skills and tools as it becomes appropriate to each educator’s projects but we emphasize that this is not a workshop where they should expect to “get taught” how to use a 3D printer, Arduinos, etc.
While we love the DME workshop model and plan to continue running it, in our own classroom practices, we have been feeling a desire to explore the specific reasons behind why we want students to engage in making projects. The questions we keep returning to in our own practices are:
“How do we design making projects that are purposeful?”
“To what end are students engaging in making?”
“Are the making projects impacting students’ lives in a positive way?”
“If we can’t figure out why we want students to engage in a making project, is the project worth doing?”
(created by Rachel for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)
(written by Rachel for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)
A few years ago, I biked to a neighborhood church in Berkeley to see Naomi Klein, one of my all-time heroes, speak about her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. During her talk, Klein – a master journalist, speaker, and storyteller – wove a pretty compelling narrative about the social, economic, and political systems that have given rise to climate change, how these systems are failing both the planet and the majority of humanity, and the need to confront and replace these dominant structures in order to weather the proverbial (and not-so-proverbial) storm. As she spoke about the next phase of climate activism, she offered a piece of advice that gave me goosebumps at the time and has stuck with me ever since: “Dream in public.” In other words, our most powerful tool in addressing social inequality and collapsing ecosystems is our collective ability to articulate and iterate a new vision of what might be possible. Our salvation lies in our imagination.
(written by Lara for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)
Purposeful making allows for students to learn by doing. Teachers create safe and enjoyable spaces for students to learn, integrate and apply skills in a collaborative process, Students are able to ask questions, grapple with problems, create, experiment, receive feedback and design solutions to bigger, meanwhile they are taking ownership of their learning process. Prior to the DPME workshop, I have had no knowledge or experience with maker spaces, but I am so excited to learn more so that I can create more meaningful experiences for my students. I used my time in the DPME workshop to absorb as much information as possible and learn from all of the experienced minds in the room. I just completed my third year teaching high school geometry, where I executed the more traditional approach of teaching isolated skills from a textbook because the standards told me to do so. However, a question that constantly haunts me as an educator is “are my students’ learning experiences valuable?” I cannot answer this question affirmatively because the definition of valuable…or purposeful… is so ambiguous in the eyes of students, teachers, and the school. I have been tasked with the challenge to navigate between meeting the common core state standards and creating spaces for students to make meaning of the skills they’re learning. The DMPE workshop encouraged me to design a geometry unit that integrates computer programming with the course standards congruence and rigid transformations.
(written by Heather for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)
In my history class a purposeful making experience needs to combine a purpose for the making with a purpose for the historical understanding. Both parts need to be significant, and the combination of the two purposes should be greater than either one together. Historical understanding enhances the making experience, making enhances the historical understanding.