Unit 3: Teaching and Facilitation
This unit introduces future maker leaders to makerspace activities that cut across the school curricula including but not limited to STEM areas, best practices in assessing student work in makerspaces, tactics for facilitating learning in makerspace projects, and strategies for encouraging student collaboration. Many of professional development topics in Units 1 and 2 may indeed be best presented during traditional workshops or training sessions. In this unit, however, keep in mind the best way to learn about assessment techniques, facilitation models, and collaboration strategies is probably to try them out during authentic maker activities, then debrief with your fellow facilitators.
Curricular and Real-World Ties
Future maker leaders should understand how different processes supported by making and/or specific projects tie back into curricular areas (e.g., simple scribbling machines/robots illustrating the geometry of patterns/shapes/lines/diameter for math, circuity and automata illustrating electricity and mechanics for science, pop-up books with conductible ink promoting writing for English, fabricated objects representing some aspect of historical significance for social studies, most projects incorporating creative components in support of art, etc.). Maker leaders should also understand strategies for aligning out-of-school learning with in-school learning, and be able to discuss how making relates to real-world applications in business, industry, and the arts.
- Online Article, Capture the learning: Crafting the maker mindset, Edutopia. This article discusses tying maker projects to the curriculum by focusing on desired content and skills first, then looking at available materials, and designing a good question or problem. A design thinking process is recommended that starts with defining the problem, considering solutions, prototyping, and testing, while documenting the steps and lessons learned.
- Online Article, ReMaking education: Designing classroom makerspaces for transformative learning, Edutopia. This article relates making to the MacArthur "connected learning" framework focused on students exploring their interests and passions with the support of peers and digital tools. It recommends taking a student interest inventory and gives examples of teacher-planned activities in science and math that tap into student interests.
- Online Article, LEGO robotics: STEM sport of the mind, Learning & Leading with Technology. This article introduces the competitive FIRST Lego League (FLL) but focuses on integrating similar skills in regular classrooms beyond after-school clubs. Sample applications of lego robotics are given for science and math.
- Online Article, Can the maker movement infiltrate mainstream classrooms? KQED MindShift. This article notes the importance of play and discovery activity found in makerspaces but not in formal education settings. For making activity to infiltrate mainstream classrooms, not just those in affluent areas, the editor of Make Magazine suggests students, parents, and teachers will need to advocate for its place in the curriculum.
- Online Article, The 'maker movement' has a place in all disciplines, Literacy Daily. This article discusses making activities beyond STEM that support reading and writing literacies such as co-created digital stories and post cards and readings fused with made media (games, puzzles).
- Online Article, Maker education meets the writers' workshop, User Generated Education. This article describes a writing project that seamlessly integrated making/crafting (character development with art), programming (setting development with movable parts, lights, sounds), and media production (eBooks, theme song audio).
- Blog Entry, Design a monument 8th grade history project, Bourn Idea Lab. This blog entry describes an 8th grade history project with students researching American women, designing original monuments, and constructing monument models with the help of fab lab equipment (i.e., laser/foam cutters, 3d printer).
- PDF Article, Bridging the gap between formal and informal science learning, Studies in Science Education. This article points out that some of the assumed differences between formal and informal learning are false, and that informal learning can include formal aspects such as structured, sequenced, and assessed. After giving examples of informal science learning, the authors recommend "compulsory school contexts ... include informal learning experiences," but notes that integrating informal learning with regular curricula is a challenge.
- PDF Article, School and out-of-school science: A model for bridging the gap, Studies in Science Education. This article echoes the challenge of formal and informal educators effectively working together and presents a 4x4 model with 16 practical steps to bridge the gap, including designing common activities that cross the two contexts, engaging staff from two contexts in one another's work, and clarifying roles.
- PDF Article, The relationship between students' connections to out-of-school experiences and factors associated with science learning, International Journal of Science Education. This research study identified strong connections between students' out-of-school experiences and interest in science, and moderate connections to pursuing science careers, persevering, and giving effort. The study cautioned that teachers who know little about students' out-of-school experiences "may not be effective in helping students make connections between in-school and out-of-school science experiences," highlighting the importance of teacher involvement in makerspaces, not just the school librarian or technology facilitator.
- PDF Article, How robotics achieves outcomes, Carnegie Mellon. This document presents National Science Education Standards (NSES), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards, and International Technology Education Association (ITEA) standards, and aligns robotics technologies and skills with each to illustrate how robotics activities are supportive of various curricular standards.
- Web Site, Aligning with the school day, You for Youth. This comprehensive Web site provides strategies for aligning in-school and out-of-school programming, including designing complementary rather than replicated programs, sharing responsibilities, and partnering with schools.
- Web Site, Tinkerers, Exploratorium Tinkering Studio. This Web site lists more than 60 scientists, educators, artists, and tinkerers who have collaborated with the Exploratorium's Tinkering Studio and have applied making in their work. Links to tinkerer Web sites provide further inspiration and learning about varied crafts.
Professional Development Activities for this Section on Curriculum and Real-World Ties:
- Discuss: Break into content area (or interdisciplinary) groups and consistent with lesson planning in PLCs, discuss a set of curricular goals and how making activity could support attainment. Also, discuss how that making activity ties into authentic work or careers (see the list of "tinkerers" provided by the Exploratorium).
- Discuss: Drawing from the resources "school and out of school science" and "aligning with the school day," what strategies could you implement in your educational setting to better connect the formal school curriculum to informal making activities?
Watch: Sample Use of Voicethread to Document Process
- Online Article, Creating an authentic maker education rubric, Edutopia. This article introduces one author's take on what should be assessed from makerspace work, including the students' process, product, and their understanding of materials and tools. A sample rubric is provided emphasizing further skills such as questioning, trying different solution paths, and making purposeful decisions.
- Blog Entry, Open portfolios: Bay Area Video Coalition's media portfolios, Maker Education Initiative. This blog entry describes a digital video coalition of underrepresented youth who are required to develop a portfolio of their work and present their portfolio at a showcase event. The portfolio was praised for being not only an archive, but also a means for students to learn to represent their own identity.
- Web Site, Open portfolio project, Maker Education Initiative. At present, this project aims to develop practices and systems to support an open portfolio system for makers. It is under development by working groups.
- PDF Article, Makerspaces in the school library learning commons and the uTEC Maker Model, Teacher Librarian. This article proposes a four-stage development cycle for makers, beginning with simple using and following well prescribed steps, moving up to tinkering with more questioning and modifications from original designs, then experimenting with trial and error to build something entirely new, and finally creating something that makes a difference or is marketable. These stages would be quite useful to keep in mind during makerspace observations to determine where users fall on a developmental cycle and how they are progressing over time.
- PDF Handout, 50 Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) by Angelo and Cross, University of Oregon Teaching Effectiveness Program. This handout introduces useful and simple classroom assessment techniques that can be readily applied in makerspaces to assess student understanding (e.g., minute papers, muddiest point, what's the principle, directed paraphrasing). These techniques are also useful for facilitators to draw out student thinking.
- PDF Article, Natural pedagogical conversations in a high school students' internship, Journal of Research in Science Teaching. This research study transcribed scientist-intern conversations and applied conversation analysis to determine how learning was supported in internship activity. This method represents one approach to capturing and analyzing the critical student-facilitator conversations occurring in makerspaces.
Professional Development Activities for this Section on Assessment:
- Discuss: What "sources" or "evidence" can we capture and use for assessing student learning from making activities? What should be emphasized in maker assessment, the process, the product, or both?
- Discuss: What teacher-initiated tools can be designed or applied to assess student learning (e.g., rubrics, observation protocols, classroom assessment techniques)?
- Do: After trying out and/or facilitating a make project, discuss the skills and available products that could be assessed and design an original rubric or observation protocol. Can you design a general rubric or protocol that applies to all make projects, or to a center or type of make project (i.e., all soft circuit projects), or is more specificity required for individual projects?
- Do: During a make session with students, try out some of Angelo and Cross' Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs). During professional development, synthesize and discuss the results. Are these helpful to understand student thinking?
- Discuss: What student-initiated tools can be applied to document and share their design or thinking "processes" during making (e.g., Voicethread, YouTube, portfolio)?
- Do: While trying out a make project, capture media of yourself going through the steps/process. Compile your media and reflections with a tool like Voicethread (sample shown here) or these iPad apps that combine your photos and audio narrative (Shadow Puppet EDU, 30 Hands, PixnTell). How challenging was it to document your process? Did you forget to capture anything meaningful? How could you promote or scaffold this documentation of process among your students?
- Discuss: As a larger issue, do you think we should be assessing students in makerspaces, why or why not?
Future maker leaders should understand inquiry and design processes recommended for maker environments (e.g., ideation-prototyping-testing), related templates or scaffolds (e.g., design notebooks, concept maps, vee diagrams), and facilitative strategies (e.g., questioning, encouraging observations and theorizing, inviting participation, holding debriefing and plussing sessions, avoiding over-teaching in lieu of questioning) to guide students through making activities. Leaders should also be able to plan scaffolded spaces and projects that can work autonomously without a full staff of facilitators.
- Online Article, Design, Make, Share Process and PDF Notebook, Design, Make, Teach. This article introduces a simple, design-make-share process recommended for makers exploring authentic problems, with a downloadable notebook for students to fill in as they work through problems.
- PDF Article, Teach your students to fail better with design thinking, Learning & Leading with Technology. While not specifically focused on makerspaces, this article introduces a design thinking process that facilitators can encourage students to follow with four stages--empathy to derive a meaningful problem worth solving, ideation, prototyping, and testing. Sample problems students chose to address are highlighted.
- PDF Toolkit, Design thinking for educators, Riverdale Country School + IDEO. While not specifically focused on makerspaces, this toolkit introduces a five-phase design thinking process that facilitators can encourage students to follow with five stages--discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation, and evolution. Even if the full process is not followed, individual phases have some useful strategies such as creating and learning from documentation and using visualizations to frame complex information.
- Online Article: Inquiry learning plan (ILP) and guided inquiry, Letting Go. This blog entry introduces the guided inquiry learning model which resonates with makerspaces as it focuses on a "third space" that operates between the student's own interests and the school's curricular interests, along with the focus on inquiring into problems.
- PDF Article: Guided inquiry: School libraries in the 21st century, School Libraries Worldwide. This article summarizes inquiry based learning, the guided inquiry process, and the roles of the media specialist and teacher in co-planning guided inquiry activities.
- PDF Article: The virtual vee map: A template for Internet inquiry, Journal of College Science Teaching. Summarizes the vee mapping process that students can use during inquiry processes to guide their thinking.
- Online Article, Project-based learning through a maker's lens, Edutopia. This article from a maker-educator notes the importance of teachers designing essential questions as a way to frame student makes. Over time, it was noted that students can learn to develop their own essential questions.
- Online Article, Trees of knowledge, Edutopia. This article and 6-minute video advocates for students constructing their own internal tree of knowledge rather than growing a fake tree of regurgitated information, and provides examples of questioning that can push students to think and pursue.
- PDF Article, Acquisition of physics content knowledge and scientific inquiry skills in a robotics summer camp, Journal of Research on Technology in Education. This research article found students participating in a two-week summer robotics camp increased their physics content knowledge but did not improve their inquiry skills, highlighting the tendency for students to jump into building with trial and error rather than following a design process. It was recommended that facilitators actively ask students to explain their designs and hold group debriefings, and provide multiple opportunities to develop inquiry skill over time, as it takes time.
- PDF Article, Teaching for transfer of learning in computer science education, Journal for Computing Teachers. This article describes five strategies associated with transferring learning from one context/problem to another (i.e., diverse practice, explicit abstraction, active self-monitoring, arousing mindfulness, using metaphor and analogy), with opportunities for instructors to teach for transfer in different types of learning environments.
- PDF Toolkit, Visible thinking resource guide, Harvard WIDE World Initiative. This toolkit offers several excellent routines for facilitators to prompt student questioning and thinking, such as see-think-wonder, capturing the essence of an event as headlines, think-puzzle-explore, and many more. See also the "classroom assessment techniques" reading in the previous section on "assessment."
Professional Development Activities for this Section on Facilitation:
- Discuss and Do: Select an inquiry or design process to model for a specified make project and create or select scaffolds for students, including both templates (e.g., concept map) and facilitative strategies (e.g., ask students to abstract the meaning of their work, to compare their work to related activities, to write a headline capturing the main point of the day's activities). Apply these scaffolds during a make session and debrief with your fellow facilitators after trying them out. How effective were the templates? Was there a question you asked or an extension you suggested that elicited further ideation and design among students?
While the maker movement takes a do it yourself (DIY) stance, its constructionist roots emphasize the social value in doing it with others (DIWO). Future maker leaders should be able to apply collaboration models that encourage students to work together effectively and constructively build on one another’s ideas and understandings (e.g., short debriefs/reporting conferences/plussing sessions to share work and elicit constructive feedback from peers on ways to do something better, musical chairs where everyone is assigned a 1 or 2 and after some time is prompted to sit with someone holding their alternate number to learn what they are doing, relay fun where students move to work on their neighbor's project after 10-15 minutes then swap again, etc.).
- Online Article, Dissecting the un-makerspace: Recycled learning, Edutopia. This article discusses a makerspace where students take apart electronics and links to a document that specifies different team roles during deconstruction activity (i.e., a team lead to guide and keep time, a researcher to identify pertinent background material on the electronics, a student to inventory tools used, students to document the process in writing and with captured media, and a student to actually perform the deconstruction).
- Online Article, Plussing: How Pixar transforms critiquing into creating, Think Like an Innovator. This article describes "plussing" sessions in which peers share their work with one another to make refinements. A peer may offer a critique, but only when they can also add (plus) a constructive suggestion for improvement.
- PDF Chapter, Chapter 5: Roles, and page 24 on "Plussing," Makerspace Playbook. This page advocates for "plussing" sessions to build a collaborative community, suggests a structure for these sessions with half of the students in a makerspace sharing their work and the other half circulating to ask questions, and provides examples of the types of questions students might ask each other during these sessions.
- PDF Chapter, Learning communities in classrooms: A reconceptualization of educational practice, Instructional Design Theories and Models. This chapter describes characteristics of learning communities in classrooms and compares three models/cases of learning communities across those characteristics (i.e., goals, learning activities, teacher roles, student roles and identity, resources, discourse, knowledge, and products). The article concludes with fourteen general principles for building and sustaining learning communities.
- PDF Article, Pair programming in middle school classrooms: What does it look like? Journal of Research on Technology in Education. This research study audiotaped the interactions of middle schools girls programming Flash-based games in pairs which illustrated productive exploratory and metacognitive peer support and counter-productive disputational assertions. It was recommended that pairs be introduced to appropriate techniques, perhaps with modeling, to derive the benefits of cumulative and constructive talk.
- Web Site, Peer Learning, MIT's Learning Creative Learning. This Web site embeds several videos with educators talking about the benefits of peer learning. One video discusses peer learning in the Scratch programming community with opportunities to mashup others' work and comment. Related articles are referenced.
Professional Development Activities for this Section on Collaboration:
- Do: With a specific project in mind, draft a plan to encourage student collaboration. Are there complementary roles your students could play? What strategies could you employ (e.g., plussing sessions, relay projects, peer mashup)?
- Discuss: How can your makerspace apply some of the fourteen principles for building and sustaining community in the "learning communities in classrooms" chapter? What steps/strategies can you employ?