With advancements in technology and innovation, ever-changing assessments and the constant shuffling of standards and expectations, it can be hard to pinpoint which educational trends will truly enhance your teaching and student learning. Every time I attend an education conference or even search Pinterest, I find myself souring on a breeze of excitement and motivation while, somehow, simultaneously drowning in a sea of ideas, strategies and tools.
Exploring the Maker Culture has been one of those experiences for me.The first time I really started getting to know what “making” and the Maker Culture were all about, I was at the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) 2016 conference in Grand Rapids, MI last March. I’d heard a lot of buzz about Maker Spaces and Maker Ed, but I hadn’t spent any time finding out exactly what it was. What I had gathered was that it was centered on creating and crafting products and that it seemed to be gaining a lot of traction in the world of education. On the last day of the conference, I attended a session on getting started with a Maker Space in the classroom.” From that moment on, I knew this was one of those trends that I wanted to follow.
Since then, I’ve dabbled in drafting up my own ideas about what making and a maker space might look like in my classroom. I’ve read articles and watched documentaries about the incredible ideas and products that are being created in maker spaces around the world. And, in true elementary teacher fashion, I’ve also spent a decent amount of time looking at Pinterest boards of classroom and library maker spaces and dreaming up the perfect floor plans, arrangements and even storage bins for the job. But what I hadn’t gotten a firm grip on yet, was how truly impactful making can be on teaching, learning, and the future.
currently taking graduate courses in an Educational Technology program (MAET) through Michigan State University. We focus everyday on educational practices that incorporate technologies to enhance the learning experience. One of our projects was to create a Special Interest Group (SIG) for a topic of interest and present information on it at our program’s Global Resources in Educational Technology (GREAT 16) conference. My curiosity for maker education inspired me to choose Maker Education for my topic and I soon had three other team members to explore this new concept with.
For this particular assignment, we spent a great deal of time researching the Maker Movement and its ties to education, as well as creating a wiki space to hold our information, and a poster that would display our key points and serve as a reference and talking point at the conference. Although we had only days to put this together, I was amazed at how well it fell into place and just how much we learned about making.
So, why blog about this? What were our findings? Through lots of research and exploration, I learned that the Maker Movement is more beneficial to education than I even imagined. The possibilities are endless and the engagement it offers to students can’t be beat. If that’s not enough, I learned a great deal about how the Maker Culture is affecting the job creation and the economy. The infographic above does a great job of summarizing this influence.
I’ve also included an image of our poster and an excerpt from our #MakeItSIG wiki page that explains a bit more about what making is and the benefits of it. Explore the page to learn more about our project, the movement and to find lots of helpful resources and ideas.
Making, the art of learning through creation and exploration, promotes innovation and innovation is the way of the future! In “The Promise of The Maker Movement for Education”, Martin argues that studies show making in the classroom is well aligned with the new critical thinking standards (Martin, 2015). These studies, and others like them, support the shift towards integrating Maker Education into the classroom curriculum.
The Maker Education Movement is not a new concept, but rather an extension of Seymour Papert’s theory of constructionism that educators and researchers have been attributing to the process of learning for decades (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). While “maker-specific” research is still in the early stages of execution, we know that practices based on constructionism promote inquiry and engagement.
How Do I Get Started?
Making refers to activities that are designed with various learning goals in mind. Your making activities can be whatever you want them to be. While innovative educators all over the world are incorporating making across the curriculum in amazing ways, it is important to remember that it is okay to start small. The three pillars that the Maker Movement in the classroom stand on are: tools, community infrastructure, and maker mindset.
Amy. (2014, August 13). The Maker Movement: Our Future Economy (An Infographic). Retrieved July 15, 2016, from https://www.thegrommet.com/blog/the-maker-movement-infographic/?utm_source=ig