Making has defined human existence since the dawn of time; it's how we've survived as a species. The field of education, however, has historically relied on instructional methods dominated by lecturers at the front of a classroom, imparting knowledge. The maker movement in schools is changing that.
Schools seeking to embrace the maker movement must, among other things:
- define the desired learning experience,
- determine how that experience relates to standards of instruction,
- design a space and curriculum to support that activity, and
- designate where "in the schedule" maker-centered learning will take place.
DEFINE THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
What is the learning experience you are trying to create? Have you spoken with key stakeholders, especially students, about the program you are building? Have you considered the skills, dispositions and mindsets necessary for learners to have so they may thrive in an an environment featuring this type of learning? Have you developed a manifesto, unique to your school, that expresses the spirit and ethos of the program?
DETERMINE STANDARDS ALIGNMENT
Makerspaces don't operate in an instructional vacuum; the knowledge gained from experiences must support appropriate learning goals leading students on a progression towards what is acknowledged they must know and be able to do by grade and subject. The learning process in a makerspace looks very different from a traditional classroom; that is entirely the point. Effort must simply be undertaken to ensure that the scope and sequence of activities tie directly to core curricular concepts - but 'come to life' in ways that only a makerspace can achieve.
DESIGN THE SPACE & CURRICULUM
With the learning experience defined, and the desired standards identified, the physical space and curriculum can begin to take shape. They types of projects will determine the equipment, supplies and layout necessary. Curriculum can be developed, ideally, with a focus on human centered design, to give students a framework to address required topics while solving real-world problems and making the world a better place.
DESIGNATE TIME IN THE SCHEDULE
The school schedule is the "immovable object" that lies squarely in the path of the "irresistible force" known as the maker initiative at your school. Exactly when, and how, will your learners "make?" Will it be in a dedicated class? Part of a core course experience? During an elective? Before or after school? Where does making "fit"?
The answers to these questions, and many more, are required for maker-centered learning to reach its full potential in your school or district.
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