Challenges to Progressing to Making in the Classroom

It’s March, and the project is blooming…in pieces and places.  The struggle I am still having is how can I bring the actual “making” out of the “makerspace” in the learning commons is the space in the classroom and the organization.  We made paper circuits to kick off our Grade 5/6 science inquiry into Electricity, Electrical Devices, and Conservation of Energy.  Those paper circuits have come back up into the classroom.  Other areas of this unit that students can explore to further their learning include planning, designing, and testing an electrical device.  It is a unit that can easily lend itself to making.

However, bringing this into the classroom.  What are my barriers?

In a 5/6 classroom, with fluctuating numbers from 26 to 30 at times, it is a small room with large bodies.  The space for containing materials is limited.  What is a work-around?  I have a lot of my own materials (books and teacher resources) that are on the shelves.  I also have so many novels and books for students.  Only a few of these are accessed at any one time since we still do book exchange through the learning commons and students access reading through apps on the iPads.  So, I could clear out my materials, and pack up most of those books, and move them out to open the space.

Another barrier is organization.  We have tables instead of desks.  These tables a shaped in a way that make them hard to position to open up space.  There is also no opportunity for holding student supplies and work other than our shelves, cupboards, and their lockers.  Workaround?  Teach better organization skills.  Secondly, perhaps begin to alter the pod space that we have and make it a holding space for student work and a work space.  It is often a space where students often work independently already.  The worry I have is that if students do keep their “making” in that space, other students have access to it.  There are some students lacking the empathy to leave others’ work alone.  That goes back to continuing to build a culture of respect.

The final barrier I have is exploding my creativity and encouraging the creativity of the students.  For inquiry presentations, the go-to means for sharing this year has been the poster.  Even having all these apps that allow for online or electronic creativity hasn’t inspired “outside-the-box” presentations.  I also worry enough about meeting the curriculum expectations, and that’s just my fear as an educator not having the esteem in my own practice, that sometimes it is easier to fall back on the “tried and true.”  Having access to sites such as instructables , DIY, and others is somewhat helpful, but I am busy enough to  want to spend comprehensive time finding ideas for my students.  In returning to one our our purchased resources, The Invent to Learn Guide to Fun by Josh Burker, I have found several possible electricity-related projects.  But then how do I connect Making to numeracy?  How can I connect it to the literacy?  I’ve rediscovered the resources at HackLearning, having been taken with the work of Mark Barnes and Starr Sackstein.  I found the text Make Writing by Angela Stockman.  I am intrigued to read this to see what ideas I might be able to come up with.

Ultimately, the barriers are space, organization, and my own creativity, plus ways of encouraging greater creativity of my students.  They can, and should be, workable.