What is making?

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Talking to people like @rangerridely  and @deir75 from the previous post (and over the years) we’ve wondered a lot about what making actually is, and how do we use these ideas in class.

As a digital literacy coach I’ve thought a lot about the idea of creation (and of course you need content to create) but the whole idea where students choose what they make.  Recently, especially during some of our more science based units, it seems like some teachers thing their students have to make something with “maker space parts”.  I’ve been trying to work this out for myself, but I think making something, regardless of the unit could be making anything.

A couple of years ago (or it seems like that anyway) I went to a workshop put on by The Nerdy Teacher. It was really interesting as he was an English teacher using the maker space idea.  He came from a place where he didn’t want twenty odd dioramas showing the same scene from a book. So he opened it up, and got submissions from street lamps to  boats.  He didn’t assess the product (or at least that’s what I remember him saying) he assessed the thinking behind the product and what that thing was important.

So I’ve been wondering if we take that point of view, how can we apply this to our new energy unit.  Do students really need to make something out of “maker space bits”? Could we make an art project about what we think this new energy world might look like? Could we make a movie about the perils of using non-renewable resources? Could we turn vegan and make ourselves new?

Any other ideas?

Note Taking and Random Thoughts on Repurposing.

Did a fun note taking class today with googledocs.  Learned all this from a coworker who learned it from Jeff Utecht. Using googledocs I had students work in threes (I will make only three students in the class do this later, I’m just practicing skills right now).  On your googledoc I had them create a table with two columns.  One column was for big ideas, and the other column was for facts.  One person would be responsible for one column, the another person would be responsible for the other.  The third person in the group was responsible for finding images.  I found the students way more engaged in the note taking activity when they were responsible for a single task, not trying to see the big picture and the small details.  While they were working away, I would add comments to their work to extend their learning.  By giving the students options in the future (especially in high school or university, this would’ve made my life way easier) they can choose now between working on their own or working collaboratively.  Student choice is important to me and this activity game me an opportunity to really embody that belief.

Today is also Remembrance Day so I got to thinking about my grandparents.  One day my grandma asked if I would be working outside, I affirmed this idea and she handed me a thin sponge tied to an elastic band (like we have in pants or shirts).  She told me it was a sweatband and it worked really well.  I try to go beyond just the three Rs and think about sustainable design.  My grandma was great at this, always repurposing things.  I try, but it’s almost always easier for me to find something that fits a specific need. With apps for the ipad I try to remind my teachers we are going for actual creativity. By repurposing apps and giving students fewer directions we can use specific apps for different ideas. The apps that are specifically for a function always seem limiting, but Showme, educreations, and most of iWork and iLife seem to work really well for getting students to push boundaries.  Although my grandma was never into tech, it is a great way for me to repurpose her ideas.

This week we are starting our tech/teaching group. We’re looking for a name and trying to blog more and tweet more.  Hopefully it will help us all integrate tech that leads directly towards student learning.  Building my community to keep me focused, thanks for the help with the forming good habits!