For the past few weeks, Mr. Maharajh and I have been working to establish a maker culture and mindset with his class. In some ways, we have been successful beginning our journey. Other ideas.... need a little more fine tuning.
Our journey began when I visited the class and introduced myself, and the concept of makerspaces. We asked them if they liked to make and asked them for some examples of things they had "made" - it was a rather lackluster response. When we asked about more specific examples of making - if anyone had heard of 3D printing and were interested in it - heads started perking up. Good to know.
Our next step was to create a virtual space using Google Sites for them to explore potential maker tools. The site was shared with students via their board gmail accounts - all were given editing rights so that they could add content at a later date. Students were given one class to explore the site and the tools.
Students seemed open to the concept and began exploring the site....but that's where it really ended. I think they were humouring me - I think it was too much to introduce at once. I wonder if my enthusiasm for making is too much (do you think?). I wonder if students thought I was going to force them to "make" and "make" a decision they weren't comfortable with? I wonder if students need some more time to have hands on experience with a few tools in order to decide? Is it a case of when "you don't know what you don't know"?
Ok, so I admit I went overboard - I introduced students to over 20 tools :), embedded a google form and sheet to get to know them and what they wanted to learn. Ok - so maybe I get it. Too much, too fast - system overload. I can't force students to make - and I think this is what it might have felt like? Making has to grow organically .... (However, I still wonder when I could introduce the concept of a shared virtual space again.)
Licking my wounds, we decided to try another approach - introduce some making activities one by one.
On Monday, we tried finger knitting with the whole class with the mindset that they didn't have to do this again if they didn't want to - but they had to be open to try the experience. We stressed the importance that we are all teachers and learners in this space and we were here to mentor each other.
And everyone DID try the experience and were engaged....even Mr. Maharajh. :)
Some students struggled and did not get it by the end of the class, but the important note is that no one gave up. Students helped each other through the process. Other comments I heard were:
"I finally got this and I am so happy!"
"Can I have more yarn? I need to make this longer!"
"I'm going to try this at home"
Some did not want to stop - and were rushing to finish before math class.
During the process I was snapping photos. I also took photos of finger knitting on various devices .... some photos were of finger knitting experiments that weren't quite there... yet. Before I could download all them to my computer, some were deleted. I wonder about this - should we only document our successes? I believe we should also document our failures....and show growth and resilience. How valuable might a photo be for students to reflect on their failure as a pathway to success? As a means to acquiring the knowledge to solving problems they might still encounter?
I wonder how can we make learning through failure visible, valuable and meaningful for our students?
Since Monday, I have seen students wearing their finger knitted items as headbands and necklaces. I see finger knitted scraps of different coloured yarn on desks.
We have also since taught some of them how to make their own pom poms to add to their knitted creations.
One of the students immediately proclaimed "I can use it as a cat toy!"
Some students have shared that they have since tried finger knitting at home. I have also seen new student designs: bracelets and pom pom decorating zipper pull up sweatshirts.
Sometimes, I wonder when you slow things down, can you speed things up? Finger knitting may not be for everyone, but at least they've had the chance to experience it and decide whether it's right for them.
Today left the eights with a little gift this morning ... only time will tell what will happen next.
(Well one thing that I know will happen - based on student interest and engagement with this activity, (and conferencing with each other about its' success/failures/next steps Mr. M is going to use finger knitting as a provocation for his next math lesson. Students will be given 1 m of yarn - how much will they need to knit a piece measuring 30 cm?)
Is this a prime example of how documentation can drive meaningful and relevant student learning opportunties in the class? I think it might be.
I'm going to bring in the 3D printer tomorrow.