Monday, February 3, 2014

Invent to Learn Week 2: The History of Making

This chapter was jam-packed with wonderful information. What did you learn about the history of the maker movement? As you were reading this chapter, were you reminded of any making or tinkering that you did in your own K-12 education? For next week read chapters 2 and 3, "Learning" and "Thinking About Thinking."


  1. As I read this chapter, it was a stark contrast to many of the things that it seems we are encouraged to do in school in 2014. Step by step directions- explain everything in simple terms so a student can do it even if not there with you. Rubrics for everything. Assess everything, constantly. Use computers as tools to teach content, and as tools to create. It seems like we are supposed to do it all, though this chapter clearly says that one teacher or curriculum can't meet the needs of such a heterogeneous group of learners in a collaborative culture of makers. The pressures of standardized tests and grades and deadlines and classroom management. Students in 2014, at least in the middle school, seem to not want to take the "leap of faith" and jump in to making things- they have been programmed for the game of school. However, not to be a negative Nellie- I found myself saying "aha" a lot as I read this chapter on the history of making and tinkering. I don't remember a lot of tinkering in my own school background- but I did a lot of that sort of thing with 4-H projects. It does seem like we had more room in the curriculum to play with learning in various ways- my 5th grade class made our own TV shows, for example- about nothing from the curriculum, just for fun and the joy of creating and the "soft skills" that came from being on camera. I do see the desire to "fiddle" with things in my students- they are constantly "inventing" something to play with in class out of their pencils, paperclips, notebook paper, etc. 6th graders, I think, will be more willing to jump into the Maker Movement I think than older students. I love the idea of students learning as they need to learn, sharing with each other so that one teaches many, and the curriculum being driven by a real life situation. Easier said than done. Like I said in my introduction, rather than having students create a digital poster for the "Legacy of Rome" project, I'm going to give them tape and construction paper and straws and scissors and tell them to MAKE something that Rome added to the world. We'll see if they embrace our own little "Fab Lab" idea or fight against not having rules and guidelines as to how or what to make, step by step. I'm excited about the possibilities to add some "tinkering" to each unit to give my hands-on kids a chance to create.

  2. Chapter 1- Wow- well, I'm definitely intrigued... As a language arts teacher, the most frustrating aspect of teaching today, is the lack of creativity embedded into our curriculum. Gone are the days of creative, which is at the core of my heart.

    The past: I remember my third grade teacher allowing me to organize and produce a play in class. I typed the scripts at home, directed the play, designed costumes.. lots of fun- and I remember the experience in detail. I still remember one of the stories I wrote in 5th grade- "Boom, Boom, the Drum."... it was about a drum's perspective of being in a marching band. My teacher still reminds me about that story. I loved creative writing and was encouraged to write often. In fact, this same teacher taught us using her guitar. She would play her guitar and sing lessons- this was in social studies class!

    First chapter highlights:
    * "Reading and "remixing" another person's computer program is a sophisticated form of literacy our students need today."
    * "Technology is anything that wasn't there when you were born."
    * "Beyond fluency, personal fabrication, programming, and physical computing shift the emphasis from passive consumption to active creation and invention."
    * "Teachers hold the key to liberating the learner.

    History of movement: I love the idea of a tinkering revolution. Writing, thinking, designing, creating... everything students should be learning. This is the engagement piece we are missing in our schools. The historical aspect of this movement was an eye-opener- John Dewey advocated for students to be actively engaged in authentic interdisciplinary projects connected to the real world.... isn't that what we're supposed to be doing? My question- how have we moved so far away from what we preach that we're all about?

    Looking forward to the next two chapters..........

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  4. Loved the whole chapter setting the scene for where we are. It was good to review the educational philosophies that created our educational backgrounds - and then wonder where in the world did all this educational expertise go? Now teachers often feel they must instruct, practice, reteach, test, and then hold a data meeting. Little to no passion or purpose. Maker Spaces should naturally engage the curiosity of teachers and students. Letting go of the structure and assessment as we know it today will be less engaging for most. I'm excited to learn what's still ahead!

  5. I enjoyed this first chapter. It did a good job of outlining where many philosophies of education originated. It helped set the stage for where we are now and where we may be going.

    I cannot think of many true "making" experiences that I had as a student. I did participate in hands on activities, but they were all teacher directed and students all ended up with pretty much identical results. I made ice-scrapers, oven mitts, and other crafts and art projects in school. Even my programming classes were teacher directed and the programs written followed a book or assignment. My friends and I learned more when we had "down time" messing around on our own in the computer lab. Though I admittedly needed the background of programming that I got in my classes to be able to do these side projects.

    I feel like our students now have more freedom to tinker and create. At our school, through PBL and or engineering classes or robotics teams, students learn by doing and exploring mostly on their own with guidance from adults. It is more, "Sounds interesting, try that and see how it works." than the approach that I felt like I was part of as a student, "Everyone, attach part a to part b in the exact same way as I did in the example."

  6. I'm an excited mess about this whole concept! First and foremost, I'm excited about the direction of this movement. I wish my own education had incorporated more of these concepts, and I most certainly wish my children's education could look more like this. The "mess" part comes in because of obstacles that are in the way of this movement (at least as I see them having only read the first chapter of this book). Time constraints, standardized testing, "covering the standards" know the story.

    I'm preparing for a one hour presentation on "Integrating Technology for 21st Century Learners" for our 1st and 2nd year teachers. Ideally I would give them a task and ask them to find resources online to aide in and/or represent their learning. I would hope that experience would open their eyes to the possibilities that are readily available to them with a simple Google search, and I would hope they would realize that their students could also come up with their own ways to learn. While I want them to have this experience, I feel pressure to use my hour with them to show them all of the resources out there. It seems hypocritical to preach that their students should be given freedom and the time necessary to find and use technological resources that fit their own needs when I'm not doing that with them because of the same obstacles they face. If I can't model this way of teaching with adults and without the pressures that a classroom teacher faces, how can I expect them to do it "in the trenches." I would love any ideas/thoughts/suggestions as to how you would approach this presentation!

  7. Lego movie anyone? No Krazy Glue!

    I enjoyed reading the chapter. I enjoy creating things and even more watching my children when they were younger creating things and even now. : ) ( My youngest, a high school senior, is trying to make his own underwater speakers because he saw another pool had them) I find it sad that many people do not want their children to create because they do not want to deal with the mess.

    I do not remember making much in school when I was younger, but at home we were given the freedom to bake and cook. ( I grew up with sisters. My mom thought legos were for boys. I am glad I was able to share legos with my own kids. )

    Looking forward to the rest of the book.

  8. Wow! I loved having a summary of so many who have contirbuted to learning and education. It was nice to have it all within a very long chapter. I don't remember the creativity at school but my parents fostered hands on activites and learning to fix things yourself rather than buy, brak and toss.
    Right now we have two Industrial tech teachers who are using the LEGGO system and because of closeness with Purdue the teachers are working with problem solving designs.

  9. This chapter made me think about the teachers I was fortunate to have while attending school in Jay County, Indiana. In elementary school, my 3rd grade teacher was the standout. She let the more capable students work independently, while still challenging us, so she could work with students who needed more help. She created a huge map of Indiana with different towns and cities labeled. Students had to read a book and write some information about the book to move their marker to each new place on the map. This encouraged me to read; I wanted to be the first one to cover the state. It also familiarized me me with new locations across the state. I remember lots of square dancing in music class, and dancing on the stage for the PTA in the 4th grade. My piano teacher, Katherine Beard, was the person who inspired me to teach. She had her students present musicals and write our own music. She was a constant whirlwind of activity, and I was impressed that she always gave her students handmade ornaments for Christmas. In high school, the teachers who made an effort to show creativity and passion for their subjects were the teachers who have made a lasting impression. I realize now that they granted more academic freedom to work ahead or to provide options which is what I was responding to. The four teachers I am thinking of taught French, English, history, and chemistry, so they weren't always teachers of my favorite subjects, but they were my favorite teachers because they let us tinker and explore. I also think of the life lessons provided by my parents. My sister and I were encouraged to play outdoors, take care of our farm animals and pets, and help out in my parents' work when they brought us along. We learned a lot by doing. This chapter made me reflect on life lessons and how they appear in my students' lives.

  10. This chapter was a good review of some of the material taught in my history of education class that was required for my undergraduate degree in education. As an English/Language arts teacher it is often frustrating that "hands on" lessons are difficult for us to work into our curriculum. For one, the state standard based course work focuses on reading comprehension, speaking and listening, and writing skills. We can add required projects in which students have to use these skills to produce a product but there is very little time for "tinkering" within the constraints of standardized testing and a packed-full set of required standards. My own experience in school illustrates this point. It was the extra-curricular and content-based classes that had the hands-on experiences as part of the class curriculum. For example, science let us postulate an idea and then create an experiment to prove our theory.

  11. It was interesting to read about the foundation in which the Maker Movement was developed. The whole idea of being a maker just makes sense! It was also intriguing to learn about the toys such as Lincoln Logs, LEGO and Tinker Toys that came out of the movement giving children tools to create.

    As a student, I had limited learning opportunities that allowed me to make or tinker. It is also unfortunate that I must admit that as a student I was in pursuit of the grade not the learning and now as a teacher I understand that learning not so much the grade is crucial and that if you learn, the grade will eventually come. I find myself trying to explain this concept to students constantly, an idea that took me until adulthood to grasp. However through tinkering, creating and making, I think learning really becomes the forefront and this idea can be driven home to students.

  12. This was an interesting chapter. I almost feel like in some cases education may be more full circle than we might have thought. In my elementary days, we often changed stories into plays. For many years I have taken my Advanced Child Development (cadets) to the elementary. I have seen recent changes in education, forced by "no child left behind" and many standardized test requirements. With these strict changes it has tied the hands of teachers and stifled creativity. In many cases it has taken the joy out education. In teaching Family & Consumer Science, we have always done a lot of tinkering with many hands on projects. I am looking forward to learning more.

  13. I don't remember much "making" in school except for the occasional diorama. As a child we had Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys we played with all the time. We made up our own board games out of junk we had around the house. Today's kids don't seem to have as much opportunity to tinker with stuff. Most parents don't like keeping junk around to invent with. I look forward to the rest of the book. I am a little behind so I will try to catch up.

  14. I was already late in joining this blog, but having the book I ordered delivered to the wrong address has really slowed me down. Geez..... I did however read 3 chapters last night and will continue to make this my priority until I get caught up.

    The 1st chapter includes a good history of inspiring "makers and tinkerers". It's such a great reminder of how important exploration and creativity are. I'm overwhelmed and dismayed when I think of elementary students who are only getting music and art for 30 minutes a week. I am currently teaching music in 6, 7, and 8 but have also taught 3rd grade and art for a number of years so I come to this discussion from a number of viewpoints. Is this idea of making in the classroom just a romantic one or will we really see a shift back to doing things the right way? I'm intrigued (and if I'm honest-just a little skeptical) as I read on.....