Saturday, June 21, 2014

Confessing Making

I've spent the past week working with the teachers from our Partnership Schools on an intense focus of Making STEAM.  The maker movement has been alive and thriving in our group.  Currently the daybook I'm drafting this post in is flashing red, blue and green through the pages as a result of a paper circuitry make using copper tape and LED's to remind me of my new found comfort with play.

You see, even though I've been messing around with make for the past year, I've had this nagging feeling somewhere way in the back of my head about its curricular connections.  On Tuesday in Lacy's workshop I read a piece from Tinkering:Kids Learn by Making Stuff that really did a great job of connecting up the power of make for nontraditional students.

We work with a lot of "at-risk" kids, rough kids who are falling through the cracks of the system.  We actually seek out these kids because we see that they are often quite successful at tinkering, using tools, making a project work, and adding new ideas.  It is clear that often this success is new to them and that it builds confidence.  This sort of confidence is solid-not the ephemeral sort that comes and goes with an authority figure's praise - for after a successful tinkering experience, there is no question of the student's capabilities.

This confidence, this lack of doubt about a student's capabilities is what's missing for so many of our school children who are shown daily that they aren't smart by the testing industry.  In this context Make seems like not only a cool way of learning and connecting up curriculum in ways that grab student interests, but an essential way of teaching and learning if we mean develop student identities in each and every one of our students.

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