As an Instructional Technologist and ex-classroom teacher, I have had the wonderful opportunity to attend many technology based conferences. In particular, I have attended TCEA for numerous years. Each year I would attend and come back to the classroom with a few new websites or apps that I would incorporate into my lesson plans. This year was different…. I scheduled myself for a 3 hour workshop based on the Maker’s Movement. I thought to myself, I’m a DIYer at home and commonly refer to myself as a Junker, I wonder what making looks like in the classroom.
As I sit down in the workshop I see boxes, tape, gadgets and immediately know that I am going to love this workshop! My coworker even looked at me and said “This has Cari written all over it!”
Our first task was to create a chair using cardboard boxes, tape, and these cool plastic fasteners. I’m silently thinking that this task is cool, but how am I going to convince teachers to do this in their classrooms. The instructor then informs us that the chair must hold an adult, have a functional design, and look nice. (He may have said other stuff, but I was lost in design mode) More importantly, those three criteria helped me make the connection with a regular Ed classroom. I started imagining the buy in from students and the cross curricular connections.
We start building our masterpiece using problem solving, collaboration, math, design, and so many other important skills that students usually don’t have the chance to use in a classroom. Our chair was awesome and of course I was designated as the official tester!
Of course our chair was a success because we worked as a team and we cared about our end product!
As we wrapped up our chair I started to understand the importance of the Makers Movement and knew this was a direction education needed to go and go quickly!
I knew the most difficult part of the Makers Movement would to be to get buy in from teachers and admins I was in luck….. 2 weeks after attending TCEA I had a tech showcase scheduled at one of my campuses. I immediately added a Makers Station to the schedule, gathered some supplies and then had a few students create a few sample products.
I had a small group of 2nd graders, yes 2nd graders, create a furniture item for the classroom. I used the same guidelines from my workshop and let the kids go at it. Guess what???? They were problem solving, collaborating, doing math, making design/engineering decisions all while thinking I was letting them play with cardboard.
This group came up with a cardboard reading couch complete with a footrest and a slide that connected to their book drop. The couch also has a book holder in case you need to store more books. Did it function, yes. Did it serve a purpose in a classroom, yes. Did it make kids think, YES!!!
Thank you to my creative and crazy daughter for letting me use her picture on my blog!