Be a Maker!!!!

One thing that is surely to happen in your experience as a K-12 teacher in New York City is you will find resources (especially technology) limited. You can and should be frustrated by this situation, but also you can look to maker culture as a beacon of hope if you’re willing to pull things apart and build. They are willing to get their hands dirty, pulling apart iPhones, hacking code, and even simply getting on the hammer, screw gun and doing-it-themselves.

I’d like you to watch this talk by Grant Potter at University of Mary Washington’s 2012 Faculty Academy. It’s great as he makes a lot of connections between maker values and education.

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This ideal is one that I’ve recently been thinking about for teachers through the likes of friends who’ve been experimenting with 3-D printers like the MakerBot, and through David Darts (maker of the pirate box), discovering Cory Doctorow’s short scifi story Printcrime. I’ve been used to scanning and printing on color lasers, injets, and offsetpress for some time, but now you can scan an object and print it. Relatively cheaply too. Just think, that dohicky thingy breaks on your kids nice plastic toy, and you could scan it and make a replacement part.

Now imagine what you could fix, build, create in a classroom with students if that were available? 3D printers like the makerbot are just becoming available due to a lower price point. Sadly York doesn’t have one (yet), so we’re going to work on another exercise to play with the maker ideal.

Over the next two weeks you are going to build a tool that you could use to support your teaching. The tool could be anything, a digital tool (code only and would possibly require programming), the mashing together of existing tools (I’m going to build an iPhone microscope), or even something you build with traditional tools – hammer, nails, wood, glue, popsicle sticks, exacto knives, paper mache, whatever.

Over the next two weeks you are going to do three blog posts about what you’re making:

1. For today you are going to propose something to make. I could be based on something someone else has built, and you’re just going to build it too. You also have to tell us how you and your students could use it in your future classroom. And even better, imagine how they could build their own version of the tool too. I want you also to reflect on Grant Potter’s talk and how it is feeding into your thoughts about what you plan to build.

2. Next Monday 6/18, you will blog with a video showing your process of building it. Here’s a good example for an iPhone microscope (video) and in photos of students building a camera obscura. Do you’re best to show steps.

3. And for the final maker post 6/25, you will demonstrate the tool’s use. You’ll need to make a video for this as well or we can use it with you in the final classroom.

3 thoughts on “Be a Maker!!!!

  1. Grant Potters talk is very interesting to me. I feel that it is important that he creates this sort of confidence in his students and doesn’t put emphasis on assessment but rather he creates a free space for creativity and consciousness. He states that students should appreciate screw-ups and learn how to leverage them, which is something I entirely can agree with. I do feel that there is always a negative stigma to failure which in most cases there can be, but at the same time trying again or fixing mistakes is what life is all about. I feel that grant is preparing students for reality and this is a lesson you couldn’t often get anywhere else. Grants radio project, is an amazing way to have students participate as well as build confidence by encouraging them to take risks. Grant creates an open space to share thoughts, ideas, criticisms and this is special in the learning environment. It is okay to fail, you can fall it is important. I think Grants opinion about assessment is true as he feels that projects don’t need to be assignments but rather an expectation. “It is a journey, there will be struggles, states Grant.” Grant approaches things in a more holistic way which can make for positive changes in our students. I really loved when Grant says that we have to make it part of the culture that failure is part of learning process in a classroom. A few important issues that someone brought up in the question and answer is that Girls are not geared towards building, and he stated that it isn’t as true today. I feel that Grant is correct at the same time most families are still structured in old ways and these students are still and may possibly still be affected by gearing. Males still are possibly more geared towards building then girls. Another great question from the Q and A stage was about special needs students and building, how it can help them as learners. I don’t feel that Grant posed a very good answer because he may not have have had a good answer about that issue, I feel that he almost couldn’t answer it. As amazing as maker culture is, how can we include students of special needs? This is the only hindrance for me to absolutely loving his methods of teaching.

    I suppose I may make a space craft, but am likely to change my mind – Teachers can introduce to students the concept of frictionless motion by building a hovercraft themselves. I figure students can always modify their hovercraft by using other things that float in the air, maybe electric powered airplanes. Honestly this idea is dry and when its dipped in the water I may change it.

  2. Can’t wait to see what you build for your students in the classroom. I hope whatever you make ‘fails’ terrifically in a massive learning explosion.

  3. Pingback: AC230 Maker Faire! | Why Believe in Educational Oblivion?

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