Yesterday we began the process of generating maker stations for some of our classes to explore in the library learning commons.
I learned a few things about our students in the process.
I began listing a bunch of activities that I knew we had in the library learning commons as possibilities for students to explore and that they could choose from. One student immediately proclaimed "There is nothing on that list I want to do!!".
This made me stop and reflect in the moment - and I can do so more now. In the moment - I replied that I accepted her statement, but she also had to give some of the other stations a shot. How do students know what they don't know? How does she know that she won't like anything if she hasn't given it a shot?
I wonder how do we find the balance between getting students to identify and pursue their interests, but still be open enough to explore new venues for discovery? How do we guide students to help facilitate their journey? I find it sometimes to be a blurry line between encouraging a student to try something new and directing them down a certain path.
I'm wondering now at the wisdom of my response. Would have it been better had I asked her what did she want to make? Or have students identify on a sheet their passions and take the maker stations from there? Was I trying to guide their making too much?
It turns out that I ripped up our first brainstorming guide up anyways - because the students DID have more ideas about what they could make that interested them. One student with whom I had a discussion about the book he was reading (one of those "Can You See?" books where there is a picture of a bunch of objects, then a poem of things you need to find in the picture) suggested that he wanted to make his own "Can You See" book. He was quite proud of his decision.
Looking through the eyes of our students I can see how making gives students a voice and a choice in their learning. Making gives students opportunities to take the reigns so to speak and gives them chances to explore their passions and interests so learning is relevant and meaningful.
I made it clear to students their maker stations might be entirely different than another class's because they are different students and their maker stations reflect THEIR interests and skills. One class's maker stations are unique and special to them. (and that's how it should be!)
In the end, students chose 3 activities they'd like to try and placed their top three choices on a piece of paper with their names on it. From their interests, we generated "maker stations" for us to explore in future classes with the idea that students will rotate through these stations as the weeks progress.
To help the exploration process (and because we can't possibly lead 9 stations at once) we created a Google Site to help support our learners - keeping with the mindset that we all have a responsibility to be teachers and learners in this environment, not just the adult in the classroom.
We have created a page for each station. Each page has a series of videos that students will watch before they are given the materials to work with. Maybe I can embed a Google Form where students answer a question about how they think how their learning will evolve? What might be a difficulty you might encounter? What skills are you going to be using in this activity? What do you think might challenge you?
Can we help students document their learning and make their learning visible this way?
Other questions I mean to explore:
I smell a future blog post ahead.