One of the many variations of Lodestar compared to traditional schools is that our Elementary Making, Art, & Design teacher, Ms. Ortiz, instructs mixed age groups, with students from kindergarten up to 3rd grade. This construct can make teaching structured lessons difficult in a classroom where students’ ages range from 5 years old to 8 years old. However, for the past quarter, students in Ms. Ortiz’s classes have completed a project in woodworking. This post will outline the framing and presentation of this project. More
As described in my previous post on the evolution of the Lodestar Lab Makerspace, we have started the introduction of project kits, which are portable tinkering activities that have proved ideal for our site! These kits developed after months of brainstorming and planning – determining appropriate activities, sourcing materials, and testing out the projects. In the end, we created about 2 kits for each activity, where each kit can be used by 4-6 students. However, the ones we’ve created are by no means finalized – they are just the first step. This post documents our successes and challenges with using our project kits thus far. More
In our ongoing meeting of Portfolio Development and Career Pathways, we planned a Presentation Day for Middle-School during our School Assembly, and finalized a Portfolio Feedback Day for our High School Students.
Here at Lodestar, our structure is continually evolving – there are always areas we can improve upon to better serve our students. The Lab makerspace is one of them. Initially, we planned to keep the makerspace inside of the K-3 Learning Lab, with one area devoted to free making, and another to independent kits. However, the organization and roll out of these kits proved to be difficult – we want to balance giving students a strong foundation for the activities with enough room for independent learning. At this point, we hit a roadblock with our initial layout – there were not enough space or people available to accomplish our goals. Additional problems followed: Ms. Ortiz, a Making, Art, & Design teacher, did not have enough time to run the space; transporting materials up and down stairs from classrooms to the Lab was not sustainable; and the activities created more noise than we wanted.
Our ongoing meeting of the Making, Art(s) and Design Inquiry Group took place this week, where we discussed connections across the MAD classes, continued our work linked to career pathways, and discussed how to design a Portfolio Experience for our students.
One of the key focuses of a maker-centered classroom or environment is to encourage students to develop a “maker mindset”. But how can educators promote a dispositional shift toward maker empowerment in students?
Agency by Design (AbD) has been working on solutions to this question for some time, and in their research, they have developed a set of Thinking Routines. Thinking Routines are “short, engaging, two-or-three-step patterns of intellectual behavior that are highly transferable across contexts”. The idea is to guide the way students think, focusing on areas of a subject or material that might not have been emphasized in a normal classroom. And since these routines are transferable, students are learning the process of deep thinking and questioning, not just delving into one particular topic from a single class. More
In the third meeting of the Making, Art(s) and Design Inquiry Group we continued feedback and support on Portfolio and Reflection practices, introduced Career Connections and discussed how these can be applied in a cross-curricular way throughout different grades and classes.
With Lodestar just starting out at its current site, building up functional and quality maker spaces can prove challenging. We want to create spaces where maker-centered learning shines, in which students can lead activities and teachers can facilitate collaboration, co-inspiration, and co-critique. Additionally, we want to model other facets of maker-centered classrooms, which are outlined below:
Who are the Teachers?
|What Does Teaching Look Like?||What Does Learning Look Like?||What Does the Classroom Look Like?|
|Students as Teachers||Facilitating Student Collaboration||All of the Above||Tools & Materials|
|Teachers in the Community||Encouraging Co-Inspiration, Co-Critique||Storage & Visibility|
|Online Knowledge Sourcing||Redirecting Authority||Figuring it Out||Specific & Flexible Spaces|
Tools and Materials as Teachers
Promoting an Ethics of Knowledge Sharing
These characteristics are all essential for learning in a maker-centered classroom, and they set the tone for students guiding their own learning and solving problems independently (Clapp).
In the second meeting for the Making, Art(s) and Design Inquiry Group held last week, we continued to build on our reflection, critique and portfolio practices, and introduced examples of Critique Protocols. As mentioned in the last blog post, the purpose of these meetings is to discuss integrating portfolio work and documentation, possibly in a wider number of classes, in a way that encourages students to document their thought process. This week we introduced Critique Protocols as a routine of looking closely at other’s work.
Staff members from the Lighthouse Making, Art(s) and Design Inquiry Group met last week, led by our electives coordinator, Brianna Shahvar, to discuss integrating portfolios and documentation into each of our classes. The purpose of this process is to encourage students to document their own thinking, to look more closely at their projects and/or products, and to share their development with others from teachers to peers and beyond.