Maker Blog Post Reflection

https://maetymakers2018.weebly.com

     At the onset of this assignment, the concept of a “Maker movement” was completely new to me. Perhaps the bones of this movement are not so new, but the movement to revisit how students can enjoy and learn by creating a product in a less structured environment is certainly exciting! Preparation for our Maker project began with learning about the Maker movement. Each member of our website team sought out resources to share with each other via Twitter posts. While this information by no means qualified our website team members as experts in this domain, at least a foundation was set on which to build our common website and our individual team projects. The initial steps required many questions that were organized into a planning template. For this process, the website team broke into small groups then re-convened to build one common planning guide. Many of the questions could not be answered at first, and some are still remaining unanswered. The entire website team shared the task of sharing answers posted on the planning guide as the date for our journey to the Maker space approached.

     The next step in our process was to play with a set of pre-fabricated kits that are specifically designed for Makers. There was a unity in the diversity of the kits. In each kit, the basic tools to support a Maker activity were included. The emphasis in the varied kits was the potential to inspire creative student play and interaction. Three subunit teams were formed from the website team. Three separate Maker kits were selected by the teams including: a programmable mouse kit, an electric guitar building kit, and a programmable robot kit.

    Our teams began to formulate our plans for the use of the selected kits in a real learning environment. Meanwhile, the plans for the Maker website were taking form. After a brief detour to one website building site that was deemed to be limited, the team decided to use Weebly as our website building site. Once a prototype of the site was developed, a group discussion allowed for open suggestions for design change.  The consensus was that the original design needed to be re-worked to look more user-friendly to our target audience. The layout of the website was planned with specific reference to the index for the site. Members of the team volunteered to take on the development of specific web pages. For some members of the website team, Weebly was a new and unfamiliar space, but web building skills were generally transferable from other website building sites.

    The individual teams met to plan an activity that would feature one of the chosen Maker kits. The team planning was similar to the planning for the entire website team. There were many questions and unknowns! So, the process of planning required great flexibility. In the case of the Ozobot group, the task was initially to read about and understand how the robots could be used to support and grow learning about programming, logic and sequence. The Ozobot team determined how the provided materials could be presented to students so that specific learning goals might be attained. The three teams next traveled to the Maker site and immediately began to consider how to adjust plans for the environment. Two playful learning sessions at the space passed by quickly as the teachers interacted with the young Makers. The main goal in this step of the sequence was to consider how the prototype lesson would be received by the students.

Photo Credit: Missy Cosby
Photo Credit: Missi Cosby
Photo Credit Missy Cosby
Photo Credit Missy Cosby
 Photo Credit Missy Cosby
Photo Credit Missy Cosby

       An “afterglow” followed the teaching event, where the team members freely discussed what had been learned in the team teaching event. Members of each team provided feedback on how the lesson might be revamped and upgraded before sharing a final product on the Maker website. 

     Productive team discussion lead to the next step, assigning portions of the lesson to write and post on the team’s page of the website. The goal for the writing was to create a clear and concise page that would be inviting and informative for any perspective teacher. The overarching goal for the completed website was to produce a product that would inform about the Maker movement, to provide some examples of Maker activities, and to encourage teachers to consider how Maker activities could meaningfully fit into a sequence of instruction, stressing the importance of creative student engagement in a fun environment.

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     For the Ozobot team, a video was created to support a much truncated lesson plan. The video was divided into segments to make the viewing and connection to specific aspects of the lesson plan more accessible. The layout of the page was driven by shared decision making. In the final iteration of our page, the goal is stated near the top of the page after a brief orientation:

  • Students will understand the programming is a message, a code, like a language where specific coded messages can be interpreted  by a robot and result in specific actions.

  • The process of implementing a pattern of action based on sequences of color will require the students to participate in building a basic understanding of logic. Students will recognize that varied patterns of colors cause the robot to respond with specific actions.

  • Students will select a series of codes that act as an algorithm, a series of instruction of process that will be predictive of the motion of the Ozobot.

  •  Students will learn to think sequentially as specific color codes follow in order on a designed pathway.

  • Students will recognize that the  programing of Ozobot follows the same process that engineers use in planning for developing new software, or for planning for  a new building or structure

     While this entire sequence felt at times to be in free fall, the final process lead to significant learning and an elegant web page. The final product demonstrates the success of the process. In terms of what I learned in the process of developing the website, I learned to feel at ease when the project was in the formative phase. I learned to trust my teammates and to be patient with process.

     My classroom teaching methods roughly follow a Maker format. Lesson planning begins with assessing what students already know. A demonstration is usually a “hook” that leads to questions, and then students become the Makers. They construct meaning by observing and qualifying potential relationships. I believe that the Maker lesson planning activity will help me to continue to focus on how meaning and learning must be driven by the student’s active participation in creative play.

         

    The value of the maker movement and its connection to our MAET course concepts is succinctly suggested in an on-line book, “Maker Space, School Edition Playbook.” 

          (Hubrinka et al. 2013)

                        The model of 21st described in this plan calls for engaging and empowering

                        learning experiences for all learners. The model asks that we focus what and

                        how we teach to match what people need to know, how they learn, where

                        and when they will learn, and who needs to learn. It brings state-of-the-art

                        technology into learning to enable, motivate, and inspire all students,

                        regardless of background, language, or disabilities, to achieve. It leverages

                        the power of technology to provide personalized learning instead of a

                        one-size-fits-all curriculum, pace of teaching, and instructional practices.

 

    The Maker activity is rewarding, worthy of the time required to plan and to implement the learning strategy. The creation of a website presents a unique opportunity to share in the growth of the Maker movement. The process of implementation may cause some trepidation, but the rewards for our learners are worthy of the upfront costs.

Resources

Michelle Hubrinka et al. Writing New Media: Makerspace Playbook School Edition, Makerspace 2004.

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