skaealex

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates

CEP 811: Reflection

on August 10, 2014

After seven weeks of immersing myself in Maker Education, it it time to reflect on my experiences and what I’ve learned. Overall, I found the Maker Movement refreshing and exciting. I love that makers innovate, create, and collaborate with one another, with curiosity and passion at the forefront of their learning.

“Making” has positive and negative aspects, though. The maker kit with which I experimented was Squishy Circuits, a straight-forward and engaging tool that had LED lights, a buzzer, and a moving piece. While I can easily see how my students would be excited to use this kit to perhaps learn about electricity, positive and negative charges, and insulators and conductors, I do not think that I would ever use my fractions/decimals game board in the classroom. I am proud of my game, and I do think that my students would enjoy learning from it, however, putting play dough on the back of the game board simply isn’t practical. After only 5 days, the dough on my pilot board had dried up and crumbled off. Considering how long it took for me to construct the board, make the dough, and assemble the pieces, I cannot see myself remaking boards on a weekly basis. Additionally, my game had ME doing all of the “making” – the students were just the beneficiaries of my product. If I were to incorporate Squishy Circuits into my classroom, I would want to have students experimenting with the kits.

Squishy Circuits aside, the idea of allowing my students to become “makers” is an intriguing one. In science especially, I can easily see my students creating and innovating. One of our science kits in particular (Mixtures & Solutions) is already very hands-on and project-driven, so I would like to look into taking this unit a step further. Perhaps students could try to develop a process to determine a solution’s solubility, or come up with a ranking system for pH level (before being introduced to the pH scale). As Gee (2008) stated in the video provided here, science is learned by doing!

I can also see myself applying the ideas of Wiggins (2012) regarding assessing creativity in the classroom. As an educator, I spend hours every week drafting rubrics so I have a “fair” and “unbiased” way to score my students, but I have neglected to include a “creativity” component in fear that such a category was too subjective. As Wiggins suggests, though, being engaging and creative is part of the purpose of making something, so it is important that students are assessed on this aspect in order for growth to occur. Perhaps I need to consider having fewer specific components on my rubrics to keep expectations simple and to-the-point.

During the course of CEP 811, I grew tremendously both as a learner and as a educator. One quality that I developed over the past seven weeks was that of perseverance. Working with Squishy Circuits, it took several attempts, failures, and re-imaginings to get things right. I had to learn to take a deep breath and use my frustration as motivation to keep trying. I also noticed that as time goes on, my tech-savvyness continues to improve. At the beginning of CEP 810 in May, I had trouble simply posting a hyperlink to the ShareTracker. After a few weeks of practice though, I got the hang of the process. When CEP 811 began, I thought editing a video (with music AND videos AND pictures AND text?!) was the most daunting task that could have been set. Now, however, I am able to create and edit a three-minute video in an hour or two. The more I immerse myself in the MAET program, the more tweets I read, the more people I communicate with (EdCamp! Blogs!), and the more I practice using the technologies, the more of an “expert” I become.

I also enjoyed becoming more familiar with prevalent learning theories, like Universal Design and experience design. It is fascinating how theories that apply to other aspects of the world also align with educational principles. While sometimes these theories seem like common sense, it is nice to be reminded of the foundations on which our practices should be rooted.

Despite some of the challenges I faced during this course, I know that I am now a better-informed and more motivated educator. It is a great to feel so inspired by the Maker Movement as I am gearing up to head back into the classroom!

References

Gee, J. (2008). Grading with Games. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU3pwCD-ey0

Rose, D.H. & Gravel, J. (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines (V.2.0). Wakefield, MA: CAST.org.

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/

 

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