Thinking about thinking:
Mindstorms Written by Seymour Papert, who studied with Jean Piaget and took his constructivist philosophy of education one step further to create the idea of constructionism — the idea that construction of understanding is best facilitated by doing work that will be shared in some way with an audience in the real world. While Mindstorms is more specifically about the creation of LOGO, a programming language designed to help children learn to program, the book remains a must-read for anyone interested in creating meaningful hands-on experiences with real-world context.
Invent to Learn Inspired deeply by Papert’s work, Invent to Learn is a great resource on the “why” of making and tinkering in education. The first half of the book focuses on Papert’s constructionist philosophy, as well as exploring how to create meaningful projects, and what teaching them might look like in the classroom. The second half focuses more on specific technology resources; it is most helpful for those who are considering a FabLab type space.
Making Thinking Visible An excellent resource from the Project Zero research project out of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. It introduces “thinking routines”, or routines and activities that are designed to make abstract thinking processes visible to students, teachers, and other stakeholders. These routines can be integrated into any subject area. It is also worth noting that the word “routine” is key; like any other routine, they take regular practice for students to master.
Creating Cultures of Thinking This book by Ron Ritchhart questions the ultimate purpose of schools and education and proposes that they should first and foremost be set up to teach students how to think deeply. To this end, the rest of the book is filled with strategies to promote a culture of thinking school-wide and gives ample resources and activities for engaging in deep thinking in the classroom.
The Art of Tinkering Written by our friends at the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium, The Art of Tinkering combines showcases of the wonderfully inspiring work of artists and tinkerers working with a variety of materials and relatively simple and inexpensive projects to explore similar ideas and projects.
Sew Electric A book full of project ideas for creating soft circuits — that is, sewn circuits using conductive thread and simple LEDs and coin-cell batteries. Soft circuits are incredibly fun on their own and are also a great way to lure more crafty types into exploring electronics and circuitry.
Make Space Setting up a maker space can be one of the most challenging aspects of bringing making into a school or other educational setting. Make Space, published by Stanford’s d.school, has lots of ideas and resources worth considering whether you are setting up a brand new space, repurposing an existing one, or trying to think outside of the box in terms of what a making space and program can look like.
Other sites’ reading lists:
Project Zero Project Zero is a research project out of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The project was started over 40 years ago to explore arts education and has since expanded to explore many areas of learning, as well as new projects such as Visible Thinking and Agency be Design. Their reading list is extensive, thorough, and inspiring.
Agency by Design Agency by Design comes out of Project Zero and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Their research explores the connection between real-world and hands-on projects and students’ development of personal agency.
Institute for Inquiry from the Exploratorium has a great reading list for teachers interested in inquiry-based learning. The Institute’s focus is on science and mathematics, but many of their resources are more general.