So...we're making things in our makerspaces. And that's great ...but now what? How does or how can the act of making support our students in their learning journeys?
On his site "The Constuction Zone", Peter Skillen 's states that in a makerspace "it is not merely the act of constructing that is essential. Powerful things happen when that act of constructing mediates deep conversation with others."
It is in the process we go through as makers and the thoughts and conversations that emerge from this process where the rich learning lies: What is working? Why does it work? What is frustrating? What discoveries did you make? What aha moment did you have that led you to future learning?
As educators then, we must ask ourselves:
“How do we document learning to capitalize on the the richness of the making experience? How can we ensure that the process of making is shared, communicated and articulated in such a way that meaningful dialogue and conversation about learning transpires? How can we emphasize the process of making so meaningful assessment for and as learning can occur?
The Ontario Ministry's monograph on Pedagogical Documentation identifies how exactly educators can help facilitate this process.
I've been trying to document learning during our making activities over the last month or so.
I am getting very good at observing....but observing and remembering to document can be two different things! Or remembering where you put your iPad!
And there are so many things to document, not only photos, but remembering what is going on in the photos and the conversations and thoughts the students are having during the process. How can I capture snippets of conversation and remember them? I am hopeless when it comes to writing notes down on paper because I lose them.
I think what I may have to do is purchase an iPod that I can exclusively use for documentation in the makerspace. I think using images and recording snippets of conversation might work best. An iPod is small, it can fit in my pocket so I can easily access it when I need to. Certainly, this must become a habit, but I find now - even when I'm not taking photos I'm still "actively listening" and watching what the students are doing and saying. I'm always pondering now what their actions tell me about our future teaching and learning practices.
Another thing that might work is a daily reflection log - where I can just jot down my notes. I wonder how I can make this work on Google Docs. Or use a voice recording app....yes that might work even better.
This is going to have an impact on my teaching and learning practices. Documentation is going to be my new stance in learning : moving from a culture of teaching to a culture of learning.
It's not going to be easy....but I think it will be extremely worthwhile.
Next step: interpreting the documentation.
As I delve deeper into understanding the impact of pedagogical documentation on the collective learning of the students and teachers at our school, I wonder at how I've gotten it wrong for such a long time.
To truly make learning visible so that we can actively reflect on our strengths and next steps as learners, we need to be focusing on the process of learning , rather than the product.
One method of documentation I regularly use is my twitter feed.
Today I asked myself an essential question:
How many of my tweets focus on what we are PRODUCING in the makerspace rather than HOW we produce it?
Showing WHAT we produce is rather flat documentation - or the tip of the iceberg. Showcasing HOW it was created or produced, it the real gem as it uncovers thinking processes behind the creation.
What am I going to learn more from? What are our students going to benefit more from?
While documenting some learning today I asked one group "How does it work?"