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.
At Lodestar, the academic year is underway, and with the innovative structures that we are implementing, there is always iteration, all the way down to the level of the structure of our lessons. Across the school, and especially in the Making, Art, and Design classes, we want to jump right into making and tinkering, to pique student interest and provide tangible opportunities for students to wrestle with challenging concepts.
Thus, in a maker-centered environment, educators face the following design challenge: how can we structure classes to minimize direct instruction and maximize hands-on activities? In addition, can we accomplish this while providing adequate time for reflection on the activity? More
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)