Making, Art(s) & Design Critique Protocols

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.


Making, Art(s) & Design Portfolio Plan

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.


Making at Lodestar, Day 1

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

Designing Purposeful Making Experiences – Jun 26-27, 2017

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?”


Purposeful Making by Rachel Fryke

(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.


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.

Purposeful Making in American History Class by Heather Pang

(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.


Purposeful Making by Hadiyah Shabazz / As-is :) #TryingIt

(written by Hadiyah for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)

Purposeful making: this idea is still uncovering itself. currently I am experiencing it as:  growth-mindset, keeping it real and honest (checking-in and checking yourself!), how are you building in checking and balancing strategizes and against what standard(s)?, how does it connect, and to what (especially if it is obvious, Call. It. Out.)?, focusing on meaning overall and by various participants (org, team, individual, facilitator), coming back again (reference values/standards often throughout development)

Project: Collectively craft team social media space More

Purposeful Making by Gary Hall

(written by Gary for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)

Behold!  The parents experience maker-centered learning for themselves!

After leading a monthly creativity workshop with the parents of Lighthouse, I saw firsthand how much fun and learning occurred based on all the positive feedback received.  Comments from parents such as, “this was really fun”, and “i didn’t think i could do it when i started”, and “now i can relate more with what my kids are experiencing”, and my favorite, “thank you for the boot camp…i found out that i have muscles i didn’t know that i had”.