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Fostering a Constructionist Environment

What are the qualities of a maker educator?  What are the steps to achieve this goal?

  • Keep it brief – Use prompts instead of teacher led-cookie cutter curricula
  • Reward curiosity – Take progress and insert learning.  It is ok to fail and start over!
  • Keep it safe – foster a welcoming space that value new ideas and creativity
  • Model the maker mindset – be willing to co-learn and take risks
  • Act like a scientist – use images, self reflections and portfolios to document the learning that is taking place.  Ask for feedback from your colleagues

https://sites.google.com/view/tlt-makerspace/

Assessing Creativity and Designing for Creativity

If you need to assess a project-based learning activity for your class – how would you do so?

  • Knowledge – how has the student used previous knowledge into the design
  • Comprehension – Can they demonstrate the facts
  • Application – Apply their knowledge to actual situations
  • Analysis – break down ideas and use simpler parts to support generalizations
  • Synthesis – Can your ideas be broken down into alternative solutions
  • Evaluation – Make judgments based on external criteria

These steps may not be relevant to all age groups – you must decide what criteria you need to properly assess the student’s knowledge of a particular subject.

 

 

 

How a Makerspace Mindset is Essential for Play-Based Learning. (2019, July 05). Retrieved from https://educationcloset.com/2018/09/01/how-a-makerspace-mindset-is-essential-for-play-based-learning/

The Importance of Play

Don’t wait for a visit to a maker space to start thinking like a maker.  A makerspace isn’t really about the materials in the space, it is the mindset of the person making.  We don’t often have time to look around our world and think hmmm….what can I make with that leaf and those sticks!

Playing provides time for unstructured and creative time that will bring out your creativity.  You want your makers to see different types of materials. By doing so, you will create more:

  •  innovation
  • inventing
  • connection with others!
  • A sense of community

How a Makerspace Mindset is Essential for Play-Based Learning. (2019, July 05). Retrieved from https://educationcloset.com/2018/09/01/how-a-makerspace-mindset-is-essential-for-play-based-learning/

Tools and Tech

The tools and technology in your space are critical to your audience.  Because you already established this in the planning stages, you already have a good idea of what you need for a great space.

  • How does authentic training impact learners of all ages?
    • When someone is learning a new tool or technology, it is important to be guided by an expert.                                                                                   
  • What makes learning these tools important for students?
    • Learning new skills or technologies can give learners a sense  of accomplishment – the “I did it” moment!
    • This may create a community of teachers and learners.  Once you empower another, they will pass it on.  This is how you create a maker community
  • What tools do you think are essential for your space
    • This will obviously depend on the type of environment your want to create
    • You can always add new tools as your space develops.  Encourage the input of your audience.  What would they like to learn?

Learning Through Making and Creativity

How should you decide your space with learning and creativity at the forefront?  It is important on focusing on the 4C Skills:

  • Creativity – encourage exploring by using a variety of tools, techniques and ideas
  • Collaboration – encourage team work, provide input and feedback
  • Communication – explain and encourage proper techniques, keep your Website or other marketing materials up-to-date
  • Critical Thinking – offer suggestions on how to alter a project, how to tinker with  other parts for your final outcome

There should always be an expert on site to assist with questions, to offer guidance and suggestions and to encourage the audience to keep on trying different things.

REMEMBER – this space should be a creative and helpful environment.  You don’t want your audience to become discouraged and not want to come back.  Encourage persistence and offer constructive feedback.  It is ok to re-do your project over and over.  That’s how we learn!

Space Development

What type of space do you have or want?  Is the location school-based (in a room or cafeteria), mobile based (do you keep all of your equipment in bins on a cart) or is it for the community and open to everyone?

We spoke earlier on the type of functionality of your space.  This obviously depends on the audience, budget and what you’re hoping to achieve in your space.  There are pros and cons to the fidelity of your space:

Low Fidelity

  • easy to use and cost effective
  • easily altered
  • helps to focus on the design
  • not a lot of detail

High Fidelity –

  • Greater detail
  • effective design guidance
  • consuming and costly
  • often requires extensive training
  • may be dangerous (be careful who your audience is)

Designing for Tinkering

Tinkering is the idea of exploring, experimenting, and trying new things.  Decide what your audience would want to tinker with.  What are their ages and backgrounds?  You must account for their strengths and limitations.  Remember to be EMPATHETIC and use encouragement while explaining a new idea or tool.

Why is it important to tinker in a maker space?                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

  • explore new paths
  • imagine new possibilities
  • Tinkerers learn how to improvise, create and adapt to change

 

Planning Your Space

All three of the people I interviewed had various ideas of what a Maker Space might look like.  Even Joel – who thought it was something you do when you’re cleaning out your house!  You can actually use anything to be a maker – what is someone’s junk can be someone else’s treasure!

One of the first steps to consider is the space – where will your makers do their thing?

  • Choose your team – Everyone and anyone you need to create a working environment (electricians, plumbers, designers, technologists)
  • Find inspiration from others – visit maker spaces in your area (yes…they do exist).  Ask them questions and learn from their mistakes
  • Prioritize the purpose, goals, and outcomes
    • What is the purpose of your space?  What do you envision people doing in it?  Is it for learning, playing, tinkering or demonstrating?
  • Identify your resources
    • What is your startup funding, costs and budget?  Perhaps you can look into grant funding.
    • How will you sustain the space?  Will you charge a lab fee or ask for donations?
    • Think about the fidelity of your space.  Will it have expensive high tech and very expensive equipment (high fidelity), medium fidelity (some technology – but not as expensive, or low fidelity (things around your house, markers, paper, cotton balls or sticks and leaves?
  • Create standards for your space, certification for use of high tech equipment, a team who will know how to run, fix and troubleshoot all of the equipment in your space
  • Build the space and secure the tools, technology and supplies
  • Design assessments for activities, program review and evaluation schedules if necessary


What is the common perception of a maker space?

I’ve  been hearing a lot these days about a new concept called “Maker Space for Learning? To be honest, I really wasn’t sure what this actually was. When I told some people I had registered for a class on this, the majority of them stared at me with a  blank look on their face. Is this environment in a classroom with a teacher explaining scientific methods, mathematical problem solving or something else?  How might this be different than a traditional classroom that we are all accustomed to?

I decided to ask some random people what they actually a Maker Space actually was and here are some responses.

What is a Maker Space?