In a previous blog entry, I reflected on the successes and next steps when using squishy circuits with class 1A.
One of the conclusions our "maker team" (Karen and I) have discovered is that we need to give our students more time to tinker, explore and play to create something unique and totally their own. (Not just the simple circuit that we modelled for them to demonstrate how squishy circuits work)
And as I continue to document making and makerspaces in our school I often wonder: are makerspaces and making valuable for our students? Why? What skills do they bring about in learning?
Late last week, Karen revisited squishy circuits with her class. She encouraged students to create something that was their very own "most magnificent thing".
She documented that there was a period of time where students had to tinker and play to remember how the circuit really worked and some critical thinking had to be employed. She also noted that many students who might not be regularly engaged in other classroom activities during the day were fully immersed in their creations and acted as the leaders in the class. Students' self-esteem in their own abilities shone through as they experimented and created new things that worked and lit up.
The big takeaways from this session for Karen's students were: the emergence of leadership from students who didn't normally step up to the plate, students' engagement and the ability to remain fully on task (especially those students who thrive on hands on activities)and the development of their self esteem as makers and creators.
At the end of their making, Karen took pictures of everyone's designs. We had had discussions before about creating a "makerspace" wall to showcase their squishy circuits (and other future makings). She used this experience as a purposeful writing activity - underneath their picture students wrote about what they made.
This board certainly helps to make learning visible for students and their parents who will come in later this week for Open House - but I wonder if we can do more. Is this display really making their learning visible? Or what they made visible? (Read more here )
It certainly serves its purpose to showcase how making can serve as a prompt for meaningful, relevant and engaging writing opportunities for our students. However, what if next time we took pictures of their creations and put speech bubbles beside their work that described their thinking processes?
Prompts to consider: How did you make your creation? What was the most difficult thing about making your item? Did you have to change your mind when you were making? What problems do you have to solve? How did you solve them?
Wouldn't that make the writing process even more valuable for students? And put the focus back on the process of learning rather than the product?
I wonder what other tools we could explore to help students document not ONLY their learning but their THINKING about their learning? I have ideas...I have ideas....I have ..... so much more learning to do.