What is the pedagogy behind a maker space?What are the benefits to students?
“We might look back on this time as the golden age of hobbies, as we can invent almost anything imaginable. When we support kids in building, designing and making we ask them to think differently. We give them the chance to change the world by putting something new in it.” This is how Sam Patterson March 6, 2016 reflected on what the potential for a maker classroom has on a child’s learning.
Gary Stager in his article What Is The Maker Movement and Why Should I Care? makes a valid point about maker culture in the classroom. He says that making represents the perfect storm of new technological materials and expanded opportunities. He states “It (maker classrooms) offers the potential to make classrooms more child-centered: relevant and more sensitive to each child’s remarkable capacity for intensity.
But what is a maker space and how can I utilize it in my own classroom? A makerspace is a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build (ELI, April 2013). The collaborative learning environments are often found in libraries and college campuses. Students can get together to work on projects and find solutions for problems. But sometimes it is just an opportunity to be creative and to experiment. The maker space in a emerging technology because we are still discovering the impact that this type of learning can have on education.
As a pedagogy for learning maker spaces are best utilized when the students are the ones directing their learning and are able to follow their own interests and passions. Teachers are there to provide the raw tools and support when students get stumped but the their is enormous potential for growth when students are able to problem solve their own difficulties. These self-directed learning environments are the perfect learning space for children and adult learners who don’t fit into the traditional mold of academic learning.
Maker spaces also offer a huge benefit in the integration of academics, arts, technology and science. Projects can be integrated to fit across the domains of the school day and students begin to see knowledge as interconnected, what I do in one area of my school day can be learned, practiced and experimented with in other parts of my school day. Students also need to conduct to research to complete projects. Students are seen as the directors of their own learning while teachers are project guides. “The role of the teacher is to create and facilitate these powerful, productive contexts for learning (Garry Stager, 2014).”
Angela Watson at The Cornerstone was a great resource for me as I began to explore what a maker space might look like in my classroom. She along with her guest bloggers suggested several ways for all teachers to integrate maker spaces in their classrooms on a budget. Many if not all of these ways did not include fancy 3-d printers, ardunios or lego kits. In fact all of their suggestions included items that were available in the classroom, at home or through donations. They gave practical advice on how to store items, organize and set up the space. She even suggests task cards that can be provided for students who may have a hard time coming up with ideas. The main take away for creating a space like this in my classroom is that children want to have the chance to tinker. They enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together. Having the opportunity to direct their own learning by delving into topics they want to learn about is what using maker spaces as pedagogy is all about. n
ELI 7 Things You Should Know About … ™ April 2013
What’s the Maker Movement and Why Should I Care? by Gary Stager
Curious About Classroom Maker Spaces? Here’s how to get started.