In 2018, I attended a workshop on the Maker Movement. The facilitator, Professor Michelle Hagerman provided us with a blank sheet of paper, a coin battery cell, a small LED light, and a bit of copper tape. Our task was to draw an image of what teaching means to us and then to make the drawing "light up" with all of our other materials. Professor Hagerman did not provide any further instructions beforehand, allowing the class instead to collaborate, think, and work together to work on this activity. While she did carefully plan for the activity, we were able to create and design on our own, and that is how I came to learn about the Maker Movement.
Hagerman (2017) suggests, “The Modern Maker Movement champions the human need to craft, tinker, design, create, and invent” (p. 319). Similarly, Prince & Good (2018) define it as “exciting playground spaces in schools where educators can foster creativity, innovation, and design skills” (p. 1). According to Blikstein (2013), “[D]igital democratization and how it could be a unique tool in the hands of progressive educators” (p. 2). It allows for a space that makes all students feel that they are agents of their own learning. Furthermore, the Maker Movement invites curiosity, inspires wonder, encourages playfulness, and celebrates unique solutions (Kurti, Kurti, & Fleming, 2014). In many ways, it also creates a collaborative learning space as Dousay (2017) suggests, “The intersections between constructivism, constructionism, collaborative learning, and problem-based learning comprises the heart of the maker movement” (p. 69). As a result, it ensures that students learn from each other without the fear of failing (Strycker, 2015). Ultimately, the Maker Movement fulfills a learner-center approach.
Unfortunately, a lot of forums and spaces in education are often limited in nature, lacking diversity and inclusion. In her talk, Thinking About Making, Buechley (2014) points out how 34 out of the 40 issues of Make Magazine include people on the cover of the magazine. At that time, there were no people of colour and most happened to be white men or boys (about 85%). This is a telling narrative that is often true in a lot of forums and spaces, which happen to occur even in the field of education.
As a teacher, I would work around this by (1) creating a space where Maker Movement incorporates a variety of fields above and beyond STEM and (2) foster diversity and inclusion. By implementing the former, students would not simply focus on STEM, which is the major focus that most Maker Movements highlight. Instead, I suggest exploring facets of life such as cooking, drawing, knitting, sewing and all the other work that are traditionally viewed as “women’s work” in most societies. It can also be an opportunity to think about "making" through a cultural and social lens.
While there is a plethora of ideas and projects around the Maker Movement and different content areas, the focus on diversity and inclusion is still lacking. Here, I suggest using the Maker Movement or another form of the project-based learning process, where students are tasked with an essential question that allows them to learn about social education and diversity. Another way to build diversity is through using literature throughout the unit and year that include different kinds of characters. In the Maker Movement, Galimoto is an excellent place to start. Readers are intent to find out if Galimoto is able to make a car out of wires. Although the story is not about a social justice issue, the diversity of the book is helpful. It presents students with an alternative on what people look like around the world and how there are similarities between all of us.
After learning about the Maker Movement and researching how to make it relevant to the lived experiences of our students, I really feel that it is another useful learning and teaching opportunity. Hopefully, along the way, I will find the maker in me as well.
making through literacy
The exploration of work aligned to the curriculum can also be an exciting perspective for both students and the teacher. For example, the Maker Movement can be easily connected to literacy. According to Blakemore (2018), “Connecting making and literacy has the potential for inviting students to engage with the text in new and deeper ways” (p. 68). The book, If I Built A Car by Chris Van Dusen is a good starting point for linking reading with the Maker Movement. In the story, the character, Jack goes on a journey to build a car. He does not want to just make any old car, he wants to design and invent a car that is out of this world! Another helpful book to explore is Violet the Pilot by Steven Breen and there are many more that can be discovered online. In the end, books and texts are a useful starting point to launch the Maker Movement, bringing about agency and imagination in the classroom space.
Another example is one I observed during the Fall 2019 semester, which my Associate Teacher led with our Grade 3/4 classroom. She read the book, One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul, and discussed the ways plastic harms our environment. Then, students thought about ideas on how to recycle, reduce, and reuse plastic, coming up with several ideas. In groups, students had to design an item using a plastic bag. This process required students to brainstorm ideas with each other, select one idea, and then design it before creating the item itself.
Blikstein, P. (2013). Digital fabrication and ‘making’ in education: the democratization of invention. In J. Walter-Herrman & C. Buching (Eds.), FabLabs: Of Machines, Makers, and Inventors. Bielefeld: Transcript Publishers.
Buechley, L. (2014). Eyeo Festival. October 31, 2014. Thinking about making. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/110616469
Dousay, T.A. (2017). Defining and differentiating the makerspace. Educational Techonology, 57(2), 89-74. Retrieved on September 9, 2018 from the JSTOR database.
Hagerman, M.S. (2017). Les bricoscientifiques: exploring the intersections of disciplinary, digital, and maker literacies instruction in a Franco-Ontarian school. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 61(3), 319-325).
Kurti, R. S., Kurti, D. L., & Fleming, L. (201 4). The philosophy of educational makerspaces: Part 1 of making an educational makerspace. Teacher Librarian, 41(5), 8-1 1 .
Prince, J. & Good, K. (2018). Making makerspaces work for all students. Retrieved on September 14, 2018 from https://www.edutopia.org/article/making-makerspaces-work-all-students
Strycker, J. (2015). Makerpsaces: the next iteration for education technology in K-12 schools. Educational Technology, 55(3), 28-32. Retrieved on September 9, 2018 from the JSTOR database.