Journal Entry #1: Discovery
I have a challenge. How do I approach it?
This upcoming school year, I am hoping to implement the Maker Movement into my classroom. I am lucky enough to work in a district that values and supports technology and makes this very possible for me. My challenge will be setting up an environment in my first grade classroom that uses “MAKER” tools and mindsets that allow my students to create something that facilitates learning. I am wondering how I will make student work relevant to their lives outside of school and our academic goals at school. I am wondering what resources will be made available to me and which ones will not. I am wondering if I will be able to sit back and let my kids fail over and over again until they reach a solution.
The Maker Movement is a community of people who problem solve and create new technology based resources. To be honest, I have heard SO much about the Maker Movement but have never had the chance to explore it. That is why I was so happy that during class today, our professors Chris and Alison let us tinker with Maker Kits so we could explore and experience what the Maker Movement is really about. I was able to experiment with six of the kits and it was incredible. Thinking about how engaged my classmates and I were makes me very excited to implement one of these it in my classroom.
1.) Paper Circuits We created paper circuits for our quick fire today. Simply put, it is a way to create a circuit…on paper. We used copper tape and surface mount LEDs to “illuminate” a concept/idea we have covered so far in our course. The two challenges we faced were getting the light bulb to actually light up, and also make it work with the concept we chose to highlight. Go to my Quickfire page to see some examples!
2.) Scibbler 3D pen This is a very cool way to bring your imagination to life! The pen will heat up and the filaments will come out of the nozzle and solidify almost immediately. After about 5 minutes of trial and error, I was able to easily use the pen and create my first 3D project. I think the possibilities for using this in the classroom are endless and I can totally see it being put to use in my first grade classroom.
3.) Makey Makey I have heard about, watched videos and read about the Makey Makey countless times…so you can imagine my excitement when I got to play with this today. The Makey Makey is an invention kit that allows you to turn everyday objects (that conduct electricity) into touch pads. A Makey Makey Kit contains alligator clips, a USB cable and a computer board. Make + Key = Makey Makey! Watch this video for a better understanding.
4.) Little Bits Easy to use, problem-solving electronic building blocks. I have to admit, I was terrified to try this kit and assumed I would not be able to figure it out. I was wrong! Although intimidating, the color coded, magnetic blocks easily clip together which promotes trial and error. I was able to create about 3 different circuits within 10 minutes. Amazing!
5.) Rasberry Pi This is a low-cost computer! I did not get to use this hands-on, but was able to watch my classmates experiment with it. From what I could see, it is a bit more difficult to operate and would require some research beforehand. I am not sure this is academically appropriate for my first graders.
6.) Squishy Circuits This kit is squishy because it involves the use of play dough. The play dough acts as a conductor to turn on the lights or sound the alarms included in the kit.
Aside from the tinkering we were able to do during class today, I really have not had much experience with the Maker Movement. I did try Genius Hour with my class last year but it did not involve the type of kits and Maker ideal we worked with today. Attending edCamps in Michigan is where I first heard about the Maker Movement–and then I knew of other educators implementing the movement in their classroom–and then I explored it online. All of these outlets are great, but I never experienced it hands on in my own classroom. I would like to attend more conferences and definitely a MakerFaire to further my knowledge about what my kids can do during our “maker” time. I am really looking forward to attending the Galway Maker Space here in Galway this week with our professors. From what I hear, it will expose me to many great ideas and ways to implement them into my classroom!.
The major idea that resonates with me from the readings in my class when considering the Maker Movement is TPACK (Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge). This framework finally became clear to me last week in class after we watched and discussed this video and this video. TPACK is essentially the framework we as teachers need to effectively integrate technology. Now that I understand what the TPACK model looks like (Koehler & Mishra, 2008) and how it works, I am ready for the Maker Movement in my classroom. I want to continue to research ways to implement the movement through other educators’ experiences. If I could find other lower elementary education classroom that are currently “MAKERS,” that would be ideal!
Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Eds.) Handbook of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) for educators (pp. 3-30) New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/presentations/AERA2008/MishraKoehler_AERA2008.pdf
Journal Entry #2: Interpretation
I learned something. How do I interpret it?
The interpretation phase is turning out to be a bit of a challenge for me. Sometimes when my thoughts are all over the place, it is best for me to go old school with a pen and paper. So, that is exactly what I did! Below is a picture of what my thoughts turned into. I am so glad my TPACK light bulb went off last week because it is going to be great guidance throughout this process. My goal is to plan a Maker Movement lesson that hits the TPACK “sweet spot” (as seen in step 3 in my picture: when technology, pedagogy and content work perfectly together). That means, I need to accomplish step 2 as seen in the picture (blending technology and pedagogy, blending content and pedagogy, and blending content and technology). However, I am not quite ready for those steps! So I separated each circle of the TPACK venn diagram and included a circle that sums of my discovery phase. Let me break down my circles for you.
Technology: Here is where I included all of the new Maker Kits I was introduced to. Now that I am reflecting on my picture, I think I should include other technologies that will (potentially) be used along with these Maker Kits. For example, I want to include the use of the iPads, Macbooks, Apple TVs, and projectors that I have access to in my classroom. I should also be considering other presentation programs that my students could use to present their projects.
Content: This is something I have to decide as I work into the next phase (ideation). Ideally, I will be able to somehow integrate multiple subjects over the course of one project. I also want to be sure that my content relates to my students’ lives outside of school. I want to make sure that whatever the content is, it is engaging, creative and fun for my students.
Pedagogy: Here I know that I need to have proper management, organization, time and materials. I wrote down reflection and now I am thinking that I want my kids and myself to be documenting their progress. At this time, this is the part of my TPACK that needs to most work. I want to do some research to find the best ways and practices to implement it into my classroom.
My biggest challenge right now is trying to decide what I need to focus on. Part of me is trying to set aside all of the technology I learned about yesterday (not completely) and try to focus on my pedagogy and content. Moving forward, I am setting a goal for myself to narrow in on the content and then go from there.
Journal Entry # 3: Ideation
I see an opportunity. What do I create?
We had roughly five minutes to get together in a group and design a brian storming space. Our group decided to assign each person a large piece of paper that we could quickly jot ideas down on for our maker space projects. It was really insightful to hear peers thoughts and ideas. It is a reason why I think collaborating with others is so crucial…especially in the education field.
As you can see, my poster is a bit of a mess and probably quite confusing to someone who was not there brainstorming with us. My question started as this: What content am I going to focus on and how will it relate to my students’ lives inside and outside of school? We struggled for a minute or two. Even I was a little confused with the questions I was asking! I told my group members, Kelci and Kelly, that the Makey Makey has really interested me for some time and that I would have access to them this upcoming school year. (Side note: I am really determined to have a maker space in my classroom–so I am fully determined to make this maker space project come to life come September). The two of them together had so many fantastic ideas that I had not and probably would not have ever thought of. We all agreed that I had to think of the content first. We discussed creating reading or writing stories with Scratch, mapping for social studies or letting the kids create their favorite game. They also helped me to think about doing a lesson that did not involve the Makey Makey. All in all, the brainstorming session was eye opening…and may have even left me with a more difficult decision: narrowing my focus to one content idea.
The toughest part of the brainstorming process was the time constraint (I could have discussed ideas with my group all day) and also the fact that I am not entirely sure what content I am focusing on. It kind of makes it hard to find the direction I am going in, when I am not even really sure where I am ending up. Below, I posted the pictures of the two most promising sketches post brainstorm.
At this time, I think I am leaning towards the Makey Makey sketch mainly because it is the most interesting to me and also the most realistic for the upcoming school year. It seems like a great way to integrate multiple subjects at once while also relating to their lives outside of school. I can only imagine how excited my students would be if they got the chance to work with a Makey Makey–similar to how I was!
Journal Entry #4: Experimentation
I have an idea. How do I build it?
This upcoming school year, I have decided that I want to provide my students with the opportunity to become inventors. Using the Makey Makey Kit, students will work in pairs or groups of three (depending on how many resources I have available) to create a video game controller. I want the project to engage the students through exploration and trial and error. This made me think: how can I relate this to school content? I thought about all of our first grade standards and what my students could use some work on…informational writing. Last year, it was very difficult for my kids to not use opinions in their informational writing. I thought this project would be a great opportunity to work on that standard. That being said, my goal is for my students to create a working video game controller (using any objects of their choice) and create a “How-to Use a Makey Makey” informational guide (digital if they choose) for other students/classes to learn from.
I know that sounds incredibly complicated for six/seven year olds in a first grade environment. However, I hold my students to very high standards and I want them to know that. This project seems like a great opportunity to push them to be the best they can be and to do something amazing that they will take pride in.
So, here is my prototype:
Students will be provided with materials that may or may not conduct electricity–they will also have the opportunity to bring in objects from home if they please. They will have to go through trial and error to figure out what objects will work with the Makey Makey board.
Students will then pick a video game (potential website to pick from) and create a video game controller using objects of their choice.
Throughout the Makey Makey learning process, students will collaboratively create a “How to” guide for their Makey Makey Kit (digital or not–again, I want it to be their choice and I also want to see what resources I will have). Ideally, they will share this with other students/classes within the district and potentially beyond that (that would be really cool)!
During class today we worked with peers to dissect our Maker prototypes. I always enjoy collaborating and hearing feedback from others because it allows you to view your ideas from a different lens. Sometimes and idea sounds amazing, and you get so caught up in that amazing idea that you fail to consider the possible set backs.
The Google Presentation slide above is what we used as a group to discuss my Maker prototype. My group could refer to to slide throughout our feedback session and add any information as they saw necessary. They pointed out good things, questions they had, and things they thought I should change. The feedback session was extremely valuable in my process. Here is what my group contributed to my idea:
- The Maker project has a direct content focus for first grade (Informational Writing) (I am glad my group commented on this because I was a bit worried. I knew I wanted to use the Makey Makey but I was having a hard time relating it to some content we covered in first grade. I think it will be an awesome way to motivate them to write.)
- It is a collaborative project (Majorly. Students are going to have to find a way to work well together and respect each others ideas with this project.)
- Parents will love it (I sure hope so–I want to be fully prepared to respond to any parents that might have concerns.)
- Kids will love it (I REALLY hope so 🙂 I created this idea with my future students in mind. I want to make school fun and challenging for them.)
- Will there be supplemental texts to support students when writing an informational text? (Hmm..good question. I had not considered this before our feedback session. Originally, I wanted to start this project in the beginning of the year. This question made me realize that at that time of the year, we are working on narrative writing…that might cause some confusion. Ideally, we could work on this project during our Informational Writing Unit or soon after. It would also be beneficial to provide examples of how-to guides in a section of our library for extra exposure.)
- What is the sequence of events for creating the project (i.e. is there a journal?)? (As a group we discussed this question for quite a bit. Should I present informational writing first? Should I tell them they are going to write informational how-to books before they play with the Makey Makey’s? It is a little overwhelming to think about the best way to sequence this project that will probably take a few months to complete. After reflecting on our feedback time, I am thinking this is the best way the execute this project: begin informational writing unit, introduce makey makey and allow for exploration, introduce the Makey Makey challenge (create a video game controller) and tell students they will be creating a how-to guide to share with the other classes at our schools.)
Things to Change
- Have an audience for students to present how-to guides to (i.e. parents, others grades, etc.) (This great idea did not even cross my mind…it would be so awesome for my class to present their how-to guides to other classes even outside of our grade level. They will create the how-to guides for an audience and maybe I can motivate other teachers at our school to join the Maker Movement!)
- Let kids get comfortable with informational writing before creating how-to guide (i.e. how to make a PB & J sandwich) (One of my feedback group members suggested that before I let my students write their how-to guides, I should have them write a how-to guide for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This would be a great way show them how detailed they need to be–especially because using the Makey Makey is complicated!)
I am very thankful for the feedback time provided and for my group members who offered a ton of suggestions that will better my lesson. As I think about writing my final lesson plan, I feel excited and relieved to have worked out some of the potential kinks!