I am fortunate to be working with some pretty awesome people. One of them is Ms. Wallace (Karen) of 1A who welcomed me into her class to begin our makerspace journey.
As we brainstormed some ideas - we thought we could start making in her classroom with some squishy circuits:
a) because I love squishy circuits (you might call it an obsession really)
b) because I'm getting really good at making play dough
At first I thought of some specific things we could help direct them make - but then I thought - no - making has to be open for exploration and discovery! Guide on the side!
We both thought to begin with a book for inspiration. As such, we began our journey into the maker world with a story by Ashley Spires. (Kudos to Karen for choosing it - it was absolutely PERFECT)
After Karen read the book and checked in with her students for comprehension and connections - (particularly focusing on the maker mindset illustrated in the book), we prompted the students with a question.
What magnificent thing could you make if you had some play dough?
Now that I think back, I'm wondering if this question was too direct and restrictive in nature, especially since this was our first foray into making in the classroom. I'm wondering if we should have prompted:
What kind of magnificent thing do you think you would like to create? What kinds of materials would you need to make it?
Hindsight is such a wonderful thing, isn't it? This would have REALLY opened up opportunities for exploration and given the students the driver's seat and ownership over their own learning and making. I still might have had to direct students back to eventually making a magnificent thing using play dough - simply because it's the only material we we had on hand. (Keep in mind we are a brand new school that opened for teachers two days before school began.)
Really, this prompt would have been a wonderful opportunity to really get to know our students and identify their passions and skills. After all, a makerspace should be driven by the students and their interests. I am also wondering, how do we make their skills and passions for making and creating visible in the classroom? In the school? To students? To teachers?
Ok, next time I need to remember this.
After the prompt, students brainstormed a list of things they could make with play dough . We gave each student their own ball of play dough to begin making; no one was surprised to see that everyone was engaged and motivated to create. As per the maker mindset illustrated in "The Most Magnificent Thing" , many creations were changed, re-formed and re-worked.
Due to time restraints, we ended with students sharing their most magnificent things with their table group and taking pictures before packing up the day.
Our next step is to introduce students to the concept of squishy circuits and ask them how their "most magnificent thing" design might change if they could put add a working light!