Purposeful Making by Lara Heisser

(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.