Maker Camp: Building a Maker Mindset

Collaboration, Growth Mindset, Maker Camp, Maker Mindset, Maker Movement, MakerEd, MakerSpace, Motivation

Everyone is a Maker.

At Maker Camp, we explicitly introduced something we called a “Maker Mindset”. We decided that it was important to highlight different parts of a Maker Mindset every week of Maker Camp. Maker Mindset introduced and reinforced qualities and the kind of growth mindset that our students needed to recognize in themselves while making and creating.

Our first Maker Mindset introduced the belief that everyone can be a maker. We knew many of the students came to Maker Camp because they had an interest in making, but we worked on projects that involved a wide variety of topics and skills that could easily have become overwhelming, frustrating and lead to feelings of defeat. We wanted students to understand that they all brought unique qualities with them that made them each unique makers. Creativity, problem solving, techy skills that students commonly see themselves lacking can all be practiced and developed- they are not a prerequisite to making.

Making and creating- along with the ownership and pride in that experience- is inherently part of being human. We have been doing it since the beginning.

As a result, we included our “Super Maker” project to kick off Maker Camp. This project prompted students to create a popsicle stick superhero of themselves, write their name and some of their making strengths. We posted them on the wall and asked students to use the wall for collaboration and support. If you wanted to make a movie, but you did not consider yourself a very good artist- go to the Super Maker wall and find someone who lists drawing or animation as one of their strengths. Ask that person for help or if they would like to collaborate on a project. This was a great way to connect our campers and reinforce the Maker Mindset belief that everyone is a Maker.

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.21.15 PM.png

Maker Camp: Diving In

Creativity, Failure, Innovation, Maker Camp, Maker Movement, MakerEd, MakerSpace, Motivation, STEM

So let’s begin this first post on Maker Camp with a camp tradition:

The spooky campfire ghost story.

One day, two crazy educators bravely decided to host something called Maker Camp with only two weeks notice. So they cautiously entered into the abandoned school (Ok, it was summertime. But if you’ve ever been in school after hours by yourself, you know what I mean- it’s enough to give you the goosebumps). They entered with no budget, a cry for volunteer help, over 100 students and families registered and the hopes and dreams of inspiring and encouraging creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking in students, staff and the greater community.

To see how this story ends, follow my posts about our Maker Camp experience. These posts are written reflectively quite a bit later than I would have preferred but better to reflect late than never.

Still fresh and new in my role as a Technology Integration Specialist with my district, I was looking for a way to use the summer to continue to build relationships and bring awareness to technology integration and instructional design to our staff, students and community. Cue my colleague, Beth, whose mutual interest and passion for the Maker movement and its impact on education became our initial bond. We began looking for ways to introduce making and the Maker movement to our students, staff and community. But of course this was about more than just the Maker Movement. Our district, as are many others, is working hard to shift towards more project based learning and active learning pedagogies along with technology integration. The 2016 Horizon report identifies accelerating trends in technology adoption in education and Maker Spaces, a shift to deeper learning approaches like project based learning, a shift from students as consumers to creators and a rise in STEAM learning as key trends and important developments in K-12 and higher education within the next 1-5 years.


In my
experience though, systematic change is often slow-moving and complex. Transformations in pedagogy like that don’t happen overnight. Which is frustrating for someone who is passionate about instructional design and technology. I just want to jump into classrooms and shout LET’S DO THIS!”. But it was important for me to pause and recognize that successful change is about feeling and not about thinking. I can tell teachers about the Maker Movement and get them thinking about how it could impact their classrooms, but that will never live up to them seeing that student that they have been struggling to engage all year suddenly engaged and enthusiastic and creating SOMETHING. That’s feeling and that is why we do what we do in the end. And that is what gives us the motivation to change.

“The deepest problem for us is not technology, not teaching, nor school bureaucracies, it’s the limits of our own thinking.” – Sylvia Libow Martinez

 

Stimulating Creativity in a Maker Space

Collaboration, Creativity, Innovation, Maker Movement, MakerEd, MakerSpace, STEM

IMG_1502

Our first Next Generation Classrooms teacher professional development of the year was focused on creativity. These teachers have one to one iPads in their classrooms, flexible learning spaces including multiple collaborative work spaces and focus on including 21st century skills as part of their curriculum.

Through my work in the MAET program at MSU, I have grown an interest in the Maker Movement and its implications in education. We were offered an opportunity to work on a 20% time project as part of our work in Saline so I have chosen to work on creating a Maker Space in our fourth and fifth grade building. In order to prepare for that project, I toured a Maker Space operating in Ann Arbor called Maker Works. I thought it was an inspiring space with tools that made you really think about all of the elements that go into creating a product.

Our director of tech toured the space shortly after and loved the idea of holding our Next Gen training there! The rest of the design was up to the Maker Works team and they did a fantastic job designing a fun, engaging and out of the box creative experience for our teachers.

IMG_1498The teachers first got a tour of the facility which is much bigger than it appears! They toured the circuitry room, the collaboration room, the woodworking shop, the metalworking shop and the crafting room. The group learned a little about the company and the space and its emphasis on providing a space for anyone to come and make. They talked a lot about the awesome collaboration amongst all ages that they see there as people learn and help each other with creative projects.

Then, the teachers were introduced to their creative challenge. The teachers had to save the world by creating a superhero identity. They designed a superpower and superhero name. They designed an emblem to go with that superhero and gave the superhero a back story.

IMG_1513IMG_1511

Assisted by a Maker Works helper, the teachers transformed their sketched emblem designs into CorelDraw on the computer. The designs then were sent to a vinyl cutter which our superintendent and assistant superintendent of curriculum helped to set up! The teachers printed and then cut out their vinyl design, placed them on a t-shirt and then heat pressed them onto the t-shirt. Pretty awesome!

IMG_1519

From there, teachers used the laser cutter to cut superhero masks and then decorate using an assortment of materials. The teachers could then cut and sew a cape to attach to their t-shirt.

IMG_1520IMG_1517IMG_1518

Our tech director also put together an awesome creativity stimulator for these teachers that they were given the night before the training. What a great way to get them in the mood for some training! She included some purposeful items like vanilla coffee as vanilla is a proven creativity booster. She included Sir Ken Robinson’s book Out of Our Minds– which I am now currently reading!IMG_1470IMG_1473We ran out of time to reflect as a group on our experience but followed up with an e-mail with some ideas to self-reflect on their creative experience. We also included the K-2, 3-6 and 7-12 creativity rubrics that we want teachers to start incorporating with their students to better evaluate the creativity skills that their students are gaining in their experience as a Next Generation student.

Creating a Student Maker Space

Maker Movement, MakerEd, MakerSpace, STEM

As part of a 20% time project, I decided to pursue my interest in developing student Maker Spaces. It just so happened that our main tech offices are moving to a new space and small space then has opened up attached to the library that I could create a student Maker Space. I have been doing some research and had an awesome visit and tour through Ann Arbor Maker Works. Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 8.08.07 PM

 

Obviously, there are tools that are not cleared for use with fourth and fifth grade student use but it was great to get an idea of how a true MakerSpace functions. A MAET alum and MSU Urban STEM professor Candace Marcotte

took some time out to do a Google Hangout with me and discuss how she has been transforming her Tech Club into an after school MakerSpace. She shared some really great ideas about what materials to start off with and how to structure the meetings. I was excited to hear that her work with the program stemmed interest from teachers who are now using the space with their students. That would be my end goal- to create an engaging and inviting space that could be used for interdisciplinary projects and fosters 21st century skills.

As the tech team transitions into their new space, I am looking forward to finding supplies to get our Maker Space up and running! Pictures to follow of what we end up with and how we shape our space!