A Journey Through Technology

Week 10 Reflection

This week really helped me to start putting all of my thoughts and resources about makerspaces together so I can start planning out my makerspace proposal. All of the resources we’ve collected throughout this course will be important in developing my proposal, and so many of them are full of reasons why makerspaces should be used in school.

This week I read and commented on Jule’s and Brian’s blogs. Jule shared the vision statement for her district and then explained how each part would be supported by the implementation of a makerspace. I found the community connection piece very helpful because connecting to the community can be a very hard thing for schools to do. Jule’s post also showed me that I need to look at my district’s mission/vision in addition to my school’s mission.

Brian summarized the NMC Horizon Report 2015, which detailed multiple reasons for why makerspaces are a good educational tool. Two aspects he summarized, real-world connection and preparing students for the future resonated with me because those are both parts of my school’s mission statement. The resources that Brian shared will be very useful to me when I write my proposal.

This week really helped me feel more comfortable with my abilities to argue in favor of a makerspace in my school and I feel confident that my proposal will be convincing enough to actually get a makerspace in my school.

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Week 10: Why does Palmer High School need a makerspace?

Throughout the previous nine weeks, we’ve looked at constructionism as a theory of learning, and how to provide students with this type of learning, mainly via makerspaces. So why does Palmer High School need a makerspace? Our mission statement is the first place to look for the need of a makerspace. “This mission of Palmer High School is to prepare life-long learners, community assets, and citizens of integrity.” (Palmer High School) Based on my research throughout this course, I think that getting students into makerspaces could help prepare them for life-long learning. But what are some of the other benefits of makerspaces?

“Students who complete maker-based projects create real-world things.” (O’Brien, 2016) There can be a real struggle to connect students’ learning to the real world, and makerspaces provide the perfect opportunity for real-world application. Makerspaces also provide students a chance to take charge of their learning, making it more meaningful to them. “Creating a classroom makerspace is an opportunity to give students ownership of their own learning as they explore their own passions.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 3968) Student-centered learning is the main focus of the constructivist learning theory, from which constructionism was developed. When students take charge of their learning, they get more engaged and tend to learn more than traditional teacher-centered instruction.

Another reason for a makerspace is to help a variety of students succeed. “Makerspace projects have the ability to help struggling students see the value of their classroom work — why it’s relevant and how it shakes out in real, tangible, ways.” (O’Brien, 2016) Students who don’t normal excel in the traditional school model may find themselves seeing greater success in a makerspace classroom because they can see how what they are doing connects to real life.

According to Carrie and Alton Barron (2016), there are seven benefits of makerspaces. to those who use them:

  1. They keep them in the present.
  2. They keep their blood flowing.
  3. They foster independence.
  4. They spark the brain boost that comes from using one’s hands.
  5. They improve people’s moods.
  6. They offer a sense of community.
  7. They break the habit of wastefulness.

“Making is crucial for happiness, health, and mind expansion.” (Barron & Barron, 2016) Based on my research and learning about makerspaces this summer, I really don’t see any reasons to not have a makerspace. If there are any negatives, I haven’t found them. I can’t even imagine how having a makerspace when I was in school could have changed how I learned and what I learned. I think that all students deserve a chance to try making, so why not give them that chance at Palmer High?

References

Barron, C. & Barron, A. (2016) Seven Surprising Benefits of Makerspaces. School Library Journal. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from http://www.slj.com/2016/08/technology/seven-surprising-benefits-of-maker-spaces/

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

O’Brien, C. (2016) Makerspaces Lead to School and Community Successes. Edutopia. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/makerspaces-school-and-community-successes-chris-obrien

Palmer High School. (n.d.) Retrieved July 20, 2017, from https://www.matsuk12.us/phs

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Week 9 Reflection

This week we looked at planning “Maker Day”, which I found to be a very intriguing idea. I almost feel as thought I could plan a “Maker Day” before trying to actually build a makerspace, to try and build support for funding and get students excited about the idea of a makerspace. A “Maker Day” seems a little less daunting that starting a full-on makerspace, especially if I can recruit volunteers from the community and the school.

I read and commented on Mariah’s and Douglas’s blogs this week. Douglas had an interesting comment about the purpose making a national event out of Maker Days. I can only imagine the extra support and funding that could follow if schools everywhere sponsored a Maker Day on the same day every year. I think I read somewhere this week that June 18th is National Maker Day, which isn’t very helpful for schools, since quite a few are either already done for the year, or just wrapping up. Maybe June 18th as National Maker Day would be a fun way to end the school year, and get the community and students excited for what’s to come the next year.

Mariah had a wonderful idea in her post about the culminating project of her makerspace being the Maker Day where students use the expertise they have gained from using the makerspace to become presenters for the Maker Day. This really makes me think about the order of things, because I think this would provide students the opportunity to really take charge of the Maker Day. I think this could really be awesome if there was an actual makerspace class offered at my school.

This week got me thinking about so many ways that a Maker Day could work. I could do a Maker Day first, to get people excited about a potential makerspace, or, thanks to Mariah, could use the makerspace as a gateway to hosting a Maker Day, with students taking on a lot of the organizational and presentation duties as a final project for the makerspace. I definitely have a lot to think about as I start preparing my makerspace, or possibly Maker Day, proposal.

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Week 9: What would you need to coordinate a “Maker Day” for your school?

A “Maker Day” is an interesting concept. “A Maker Day is about creativity and collaboration.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 4046) Essentially a “Maker Day” is a chance to share the idea of a Makerspace with the community by providing a place and materials for those not familiar with makerspaces a chance to try making something themselves. There is quite a bit that would go into planning a “Maker Day”, though it would be a good precursor to developing a permanent makerspace.

According to the Maker Day 2014 toolkit, some of the first things you should in planning a “Maker Day” are to pick a date and find a venue. You also need to develop an agenda for the “Maker Day”, set a budget and find funding.  Another important piece of a “Maker Day” is finding volunteers and possible guest speakers, and also who you would like to invite to the event. (2014) Besides picking a date, each of these honestly fits right with building a makerspace, and would probably result in quite a few similarities between my makerspace plan and my “Maker Day” plan. For me, I think a good venue would be the high school where I teach, so that would be one part of the planning that would be easily established for me.

In terms of date, this could be tough. The school year is always so packed with extra-curricular activities that it might be hard to find time to host a “Maker Day” event, so a better choice might be National Maker Day, June 18, which occurs during summer break. I think regardless of the date that is chosen, people would have conflicts, so trying something in the summer might be a good way to start. It would probably limit the number of students that I could recruit to help, as well as other staff members from the school, but that is something that would only be revealed as the event is planned. Once a date is established, then an agenda could start to be developed.

I think one of the biggest pieces of this “Maker Day” would be the budget and funding sources. Ideally, we would be able to ask local businesses and the community for donations to our event, using the supply list from the Makerspace in a Box list by Hlubinka (2013). Summer is also garage sale season, so perhaps some good materials could be scrounged up by event volunteers using funds for the event. My hopes it that we could do a fundraiser or two for the event, maybe through a Maker club that could be started at the school. I think a decent budget for the event could be between $500-$1000, depending on the types of donations we can get from the local community.

In terms of trying to find volunteers for the event, I think students should be the main workforce. “Involve kids in as much of the planning, organizing, and running of the Maker Day as possible.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 4059) In order to get students involved, I think a Maker Club would need to be established at the school, if a makerspace were not already in place before the event. This could help introduce students to the idea of making and get them on board as hosts of the “Maker Day”.

Parents and community members could also make great volunteers for the event. “Ask parents who work in engineering, computing, construction, mechanics, or carpentry fields to share their expertise in hands-on activities.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Locatino 4132) It’s possible that parents or other community members might also be able to be guest speakers at the event, possibly giving an introduction speech as suggested by Maker Day 2014. (2014)

With most of the housekeeping out of the way, the last, and possibly most important piece of this “Maker Day” would be the projects that would be made. “Usually, 10-20 activities mixed between drop-in and longer workshops is the right amount.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 4086) Some ideas shared by Caleb Kraft (2015) are Papercraft Makey’s, No Carve Stamps, and Scribble Machines. Kraft shares a few other ideas as well, any of which could be utilized for a “Maker Day”.

While this isn’t an exhaustive preparation for a “Maker Day”, I believe most of the important issues are outlined here. A “Maker Day” sounds like a great way to introduce both students and the community to the idea of makerspaces, and might even be a way to secure funding for future maker events. This type of event almost seems like it would be easier to do for a first attempt at a makerspace-type endeavor, and might be a great way to get administrator buy-in for a permanent makerspace.

References

Kraft, C. (2015) What Will You Create for the National Day of Making? Make: Retreieved July 13, 2017, from http://makezine.com/2015/06/18/will-create-national-day-making/

Faculty of Education. (2014) Maker Day 2014. The University of British Columbia. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from http://www.itabc.ca/sites/default/files/docs/discover/Final%20MakerDayToolKit.pdf

Hlubinka, M. (2013) Stocking up School MakerspacesMake: Retrieved June 22, 2017, from http://makezine.com/2013/08/21/stocking-up-school-makerspaces/

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

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Week 8 Reflection

This week we looked at if it is possible to teach something we don’t know, and I think that this is absolutely possible, especially as we move towards more student-centered classrooms and teaching styles. Teachers take on a facilitator role, providing students with the proper opportunities to learn, in their own way, possible learning things that I may not be as knowledgeable about. This requires me to give up some of the control in my classroom, which is uncomfortable, but may be just what my students need to get the most out of their education with me.

This week I read and commented on Jule’s and Brian’s blogs. Jule had some really good points about teachers being “guides and inspirers”, as well as being a lifelong learner. I think wanting to be a lifelong learner myself can help students in their journey to become lifelong learners by taking control of their education. Jule’s post this week made me think of how I taught something that I didn’t know everything about this past year in my Forensics class. Sometimes in class, I was learning right along with my students, but that isn’t necessarily bad. This next year I will have another opportunity for this as I prepare to teach Forensics II, and extension of the forensics class I taught last year.

Brian’ post was very interesting this week, because he started out by saying that teachers cannot teach what we don’t know, but finished his first paragraph by saying that “What a teacher can do is give each student the skills to teach themselves and others.” To me, this is what teaching is actually becoming. We aren’t as much needed to share our content knowledge with students as we are needed to help them learn how to learn on their own. Brian’s perspective really made me think more in depth about what it means to teach, in a traditional sense and also in a student-centered sense.

This week really got me thinking about what it means to teach, and what my goal as a teacher is for my students. I am starting to work on my plans for teaching this next school year, and this will definitely be something I think about as I work on those plans.

 

 

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Week 8: Can you teach more than you know?

The question this week really made me think about what it actually means to teach in schools today, and where that is headed in the future. When it comes to my content area, in most cases, I know more about chemistry than my students. I use my knowledge to help them learn and understand chemistry. But when it comes to technology, I often feel like my students know more than me, even though I feel very comfortable with most of the technology I use on a daily basis. So how can I hope to teach students how to utilize new technologies that I may not be as familiar with?

This is where I think the role of teacher as facilitator comes into play. In an ever-changing world, I think it would be unreasonable to expect teachers to know everything in their classrooms, but they should know how to help students learn things the teacher may not know everything about. “The challenge for educators is not to dismiss or keep up with students’ latest technological know-how, but to create meaningful learning experiences in which students are taught how to apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems.” (Daggett, 2010) Teaching isn’t as much about sharing information anymore as it is providing a sufficient learning environment for students to discover that information on their own. Makerspaces are perfect for providing this opportunity. I can not even imagine all of the possible creations that students could come up with in a makerspace, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t learning because I don’t now what they are making.

According to the constructivist learning theory, “people actively construct new knowledge by combining their experiences with what they already know.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 812) If I can, as a teacher, provide more opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning and construct new knowledge through experiences, learning can become more meaningful. “Creating a classroom makerspace is an opportunity to give students ownership of their own learning as they explore their own passions.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 3968)

According to Tina Barseghian (2011), there are three trends that will be key in the future of teaching and learning: collaboration, tech-powered, and blended. Each of these provides an opportunity for students to take the lead in their learning, given the right environment from me as the teacher. “Students are collaborating with each other through social media to learn more about specific subjects, to test out ideas and theories, to learn facts, and to gauge each others’ opinions.” (Barseghian, 2011) Using collaboration, students can learn a variety of things without the teacher being directly involved or “teaching” them. Technology offers multiple platforms for collaboration to occur, and blended learning, or “combining computers with traditional learning” (Barseghian, 2011) also provide students opportunities to learn in ways that were previously unheard of.

Can I teach a student something I don’t know? If “teach” means the same thing as providing students with opportunities to create their own understanding through making and collaboration, then yes, I think I can.

References

Barseghian, T. (2011) Three Trends That Define the Future of Teaching and Learning. KQED News. Retrieved July 5, 2017, from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/02/05/three-trends-that-define-the-future-of-teaching-and-learning/

Daggett, W.R. (2010) Preparing Students for Their Technological Future. Retrieved July 6, 2017, from http://www.leadered.com/pdf/Preparing%20Students%20for%20Tech%20Future%20white%20paper.pdf

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

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Week 7 Reflection

This week was a big week for me in terms of my vision of my makerspace. I initially intended for my makerspace to be something I create within my classroom, using some of the space in my already crowded classroom. For some reason, the idea of using a separate room never really occurred to me until this week. We will have two empty classrooms in the science hall starting this year, and while they might not always be empty, one of them could very easily be converted into a makerspace for the time being. With this new possible location becoming part of my vision, it was a little easier to come up with some basic starting rules for my makerspace.

My learning this week was impacted by the readings for this week, as well as reading Mariah’s and Douglas’s blogs. Mariah shared her school rules of “Responsible, Respectful, and Safe”, which I really think cover any rules you would need in a makerspace. She also went into detail on each of those, giving you a better idea of what it means to be “Responsible, Respectful, and Safe” in a makerspace specifically. She also shared her “Big, Basic Rules” which would be very useful in a makerspace, one of which is having students get a signed permission slip to take part in the makerspace. I would imagine this is similar to the safety contracts I have my chemistry students sign, and makes complete sense for a makespace where some of the same hazards, and even more dangerous ones, can arise.

Douglas shared a list of rules from the Dallas Makerspace that made me think about whether or not my makerspace would be open to the public. Being open to the public would require quite a few more rules to be in place, and also having the makerspace better established, so I think to start my makerspace would only be open to students and staff at the school.

I impacted the learning of others through my blog post. Mariah read and commented on my post this week.

All in all this was a productive week. I am much more comfortable with the idea of starting a makerspace, especially because now that I think I have a location outside of my classroom where I could start one. I think the rules for my makerspace will evolve more over time, but I really like the idea of having kids get signed permission slips before they use the makerspace and potentially opening the makerspace to the public in the future.

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Week 7: What are the rules for your makerspace?

My makerspace is shaping up to be a chemistry-themed makerspace, that also has aspects of traditional makerspaces. Because of this, my rules are going to be a bit different than others’ because I have chemicals to worry about! I was also originally intending to use my classroom for makerspace activities, but now I’m thinking that I could use a separate room for the makerspace. We have a couple of empty classrooms in my hallway, so I think one of those could be used as a makerspace. The location definitely has an impact on my rules, because if there is a dedicated making space that doesn’t have to change, the rules will be very different than if we have to constantly go back and forth between a makerspace and my regular classroom.

When thinking about the rules, as a science teacher my first rule is always “Safety First”! In chemistry students where goggles in the lab anytime we are using chemicals, heat, or glassware, which is pretty much every lab that we do (water is a chemical!). Students will need to wear proper safety gear when necessary. Goggles probably won’t be needed in most cases, but if students are doing a chemical lab-based activity in the makerspace, they will definitely need to wear goggles.

According to Michelle “Bianka” Hlubinka (2013), some common safety rules include: the emergency number 9-1-1, report all injuries, use protective gear and dress right, prepare, use tools right, and clean up. Each of these is explained in more detail on the website and there is a printable safety list available on the site if you want more something to post in your classroom. This would be a good starting place for my makerspace until its gotten enough use to know if I need to adapt or add to the safety rules list.

“Materials, tools, and resources are crucial, but the teacher’s job is to keep the spirit and mood of the space conducive to creativity.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 3547) The rules that I come up with for the makerspace need to help students stay creative and productive in the makerspace. The Dallas Makerpace has a Rules and Policies section on their webpage and I love their Code of Conduct #4.

4. Don’t merely respect each other; be excellent to each other.

  • We are all here to make things and learn. Collaboration is important.
  • When you break something, own up to it. If you have any doubt about fixing it, ask for help. Don’t make someone feel bad for breaking things, help them understand what went wrong.
  • Clean, Maintain, Organize, Improve. Always leave the space better than you found it.
  • Tools/resources must stay on the premises so that other members may use them. (https://dallasmakerspace.org/wiki/Rules_and_Policies)

Honestly, these would be good guidelines for any classroom, not just a makerspace. I also thought #6 was good: “Sleeping is not cool, but naps are ok. We are not a hotel.” https://dallasmakerspace.org/wiki/Rules_and_Policies) I would have to say that in school, students really shouldn’t be napping either, especially during class, and I would hope that they would be so engaged using the makerspace that they wouldn’t want to sleep.

Looking at the resources for this week, I think I can come up with a tentative first draft of rules. I would expect these rules would change over time as the makerspace becomes more established and I get to see how students work in it.

  1. Safety first! Follow all safety rules while in the makerspace (safety list)
  2. Don’t merely respect each other; be excellent to each other. (https://dallasmakerspace.org/wiki/Rules_and_Policies)
  3. No giving up! If you get stuck, ask for help. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
  4. Collaborate with each other often.
  5. Clean up after yourself! Leave your space cleaner than it was when you got there.

This is definitely just a start for my rules and I’m sure things will come up as students are making, but I feel like this is a good start for my makerspace rules.

References

Dallas Makerspace (n.d.) Rules and Policies. Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://dallasmakerspace.org/wiki/Rules_and_Policies

Hlubinka, M. (2013). Safety in School Makerspaces. Make: Retrieved June 29, 2017, from http://makezine.com/2013/09/02/safety-in-school-makerspaces/

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

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Week 6 Reflection

This week we looked at how we would stock and fund our makerspace. I’ve really been struggling with the idea of a makerspace in my classroom because I want it to be connected to chemistry so my students can utilize it in class, and a lot of makerspaces seem to be better suited for physics or other classes. I think I could stock and create a makerspace that could be used in chemistry, but could also evolve into an all-around makerspace. I am definitely feeling more open to creating and using a makerspace in my class after this week’s question and blog posts.

This week I contributed to the learning of others through my blog post, which Brian commented on. He thought it was interesting that I was trying to create a chemistry makerspace, which I don’t think is actually that much different than a regular, except lab activities could utilize a different version of a makerspace for student-designed labs, another form of creating. I also commented on Brian’s and Jule’s blogs this week.

Brian gave a breakdown of how the money should be spent by category with 40% of the budget being devoted to the major tools. I like this breakdown and will definitely keep it in mind as I work on my makespace plans. Jule’s starting budget of $500 is the same as mine, so I really feel confident that would be enough money to get started. I really liked Jule’s last though in her post, “All that really matters is that students are tinkering and playing in order to develop and create their own projects.” I really need to remember this as I plan my makespace because I really need to make sure that the students are the main focus of this makerspace and that they will be able to create and learn.

My learning was impacted through the readings and resources this week, as well as by reading Brian’s and Jule’s blogs. I am definitely more confident that I can design and implement a makerspace that I could use in my classroom, and that students might actually enjoy creating something tangible in class.

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Week 6: What stuff will you stock your making space with, what’s the cost, and how will you fund it?

I have been contemplating how a chemistry maker space would look since the concept was first introduced to me last year. The idea of a tech maker space is very appealing to me, but I don’t know how it would apply to chemistry, so the first thing I need to decide is what kind of making space would be a good fit in my classroom. “The best way to activate your classroom is for your students to make something. This…might take the form of costumes for a historical reenactment, homemade math manipulatives, a new curtain for the local auditorium, toys, a pet habitat, a messy science experiment, or a zillion other things.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 1935) The passage got me thinking that maybe I don’t have to have a high-tech maker space in my classroom.

We do labs in chemistry often, but I would have to redesign them to fit more of a maker space model, and the supplies wouldn’t be much different than what I normal provide students with. The maker project that was inspired through week 4 might just be a good starting place. The idea from week 4 was to have students design and create, using a maker space, their interpretation of an element. This goes well with a project I’ve assigned in the past called Adopt-an-Element, where students pick an element and research a variety of properties and then present it. Adding a maker space to this would give students many more options in how the present their project to the class. So, what kinds of materials would students need to have available for their element interpretation?

According to a “Makerspace in a Box” List by Hlubinka (2013) there are two main categories for maker space materials: reusable tools and consumable materials. I think the goal would be to have as many materials as possible for students to use, but realistically a decent maker space will probably take many years to get to that point. I think the best plan would be to start gathering things as I can get for free. “You can begin with found materials…” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle Location 1941) Students always have unused school supplies left at the end of the year that could be used in a maker space. I also probably have things already in my classroom that I can use in my maker space as well. My ultimate goal for supplies will be to try and complete the “Makerspace in a Box” list, also taking suggestions from students to see what they might actually need or want to use.

So the last question is what will it cost to buy the materials and how am I going to afford them? Since I’m starting small, I won’t need a lot of money up front because I want to focus on finding things for free, but eventually I will need to spend some money to purchase better tools, such as a 3D printer or electronics equipment. The actual amount would vary from year to year, but I would say that a good starting amount would be $500, and then go up from there after the first year. In 6 Strategies for Funding a Makerspace (2013), Paloma Garcia-Lopez shares six different ideas for funding a maker space. A few of them really appeal to me, such as applying for scholarships through companies like Lowe’s, and using DonorsChoose.org to request funds. Depending on the financial climate in our state, it might be possible to get funding through the school for my maker space as well.

References

Garcia-Lopez, P. (2013) 6 Strategies for Funding Makerspaces. edutopia. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/6-strategies-funding-makerspace-paloma-garcia-lopez

Hlubinka, M. (2013) Stocking up School MakerspacesMake: Retrieved June 22, 2017, from http://makezine.com/2013/08/21/stocking-up-school-makerspaces/

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

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