User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Practicing the Educator as a Maker Educator Mindset

with 4 comments

I’ve written about the Educator as a Maker Educator.

educator as maker educator 1

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/529031635128025090 

In order to practice and reinforce my maker skills as well as these “mindsets”, I enrolled in the online course, Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning.  What attracted me to this course was not only the focus on tinkering and maker education but also that the participants are asked to engage in hands-on activities.  Their course introduction follows – worth a view by anyone interested in making and tinkering:

The activity for this week, week 2, we were asked to create  circuit_boards (downloadable PDF).

The following materials were recommended

2014-06-29_1642

(plus some general others – tape, Stainless steel or copper nails, Philips head screws, Flat head screws, Coated wire, Zip ties, Soldering irons, Solder, Power drill screwdriver, Hammer, Saw, Sand paper, Wire cutter, Wire stripper).

Maker Educator as a Resource Suggester and Provider

I am a teacher educator of mostly public school teachers and am attempting to get in the back into the classroom as a public school gifted educator.  This material list would be fine for a maker space in, possibly, a museum or library, but not feasible in terms of costs in a public school classroom with up to 30 students.  So I sought other ways to complete this week’s activity with my goal of learning circuit boards but on a budget.  A characteristic of a Maker Educator is a resource provider that is feasible given the environment, the facilitators, and the learners.

I found a few circuit building learning activities from the Museum of Science and Industry – Make a Circuit Board Quiz Board and Instructables -Build a Simple Circuit from a Pizza Box.

2014-06-29_1725

Maker Educator as Lead (or LED – maker humor) Learner

I already had the LED lights, the 3v battery and the metal brads; went out to purchase the paper clips, electrical tape, and decided to use foam core board instead of a pizza box (I don’t eat pizza); and set out to construct the circuit board as explained by the author of this activity.  (FYI – the cost of this project would be less than $3.00 per student – the major costs being the LED lights and the battery).

Quickly, I ran into problems.  The paper clips didn’t have the conductivity needed for electrical current and I couldn’t make them “fit” as described in the directions.  So that meant I needed to change my ideas and plans.

Maker Educator as Normalizer of Problem Solving and Failure as Iterative

I was failing at creating this circuit board, but understand that “Failure and iteration make everything better. In DIY and Maker culture, failure is expected and part of the fun” (http://www.gradhacker.org/2014/02/07/lessons-from-the-maker-movement).  Based on this mindset, I made changes.  I used craft wire instead of paper clips.  I used a second LED instead of a buzzer (which I did not have), and cut out the sensor (which I also did not have).  The result was a circuit board with two working LEDs and a switch to alternate which LED is lit – not pretty, looks quite different than the original but it works – not bad for someone who has never made or played with circuit boards.

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Maker Educator as Process Facilitator

I got to experience the processes of creating, assessing, revising throughout this process.  It was definitely about about the processes.  Once I succeeded and took the pictures, I put the project in a closet as an example for my future students.  The satisfaction came from the processes of creating, re-creating, assessing, reassessing, revising, and revising yet again.  I have a belief that educators, me included, need to experience these processes personally in order to facilitate, model, and demonstrate them to their students.

Maker Educator as Technology Tutor and Scaffolder of Experiences

I used the directions I found on the Internet as a guide.  I didn’t have any experience with creating a circuit board and needed to use some directions or tutorial as a form of scaffolding; to give me a foundation of skills to successfully complete the activity.  This reinforces that some form of instruction is often required when introducing learners to new maker activities.  The educator can provide direct instruction, video tutorials, or other learners as a means to give learners some basic foundational skills for the activities.  Some learners have enough self-direction to seek out the resources on their own, but other learners, without the background experiences or scaffolding, may give up with frustration.

Sidebar:  I am a proponent of educators blogging, and have been promoting it even stronger than ever to other educators.  This is my attempt to blog not only about my thoughts, resources, and philosophy, as I typically do, but also blog about my processes as an forever developing educator in order to share with and model this process for other educators.

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 30, 2014 at 9:20 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Hey Jackie,
    Having not yet tried the assignment for the week, I was very interested in what you had to say. We too had thought the cost of materials would be too great, but hadn’t yet tried some other approaches.
    So glad to see that you took the path of figuring out a workaround that works for you. I agree in party to your final comments about needing directions, and would rather to see it work the way it did for you that kids would begin experimenting and adding on content when they needed it so it might be different for each maker. Betsye. The Phoenix School

    bpsargent

    June 30, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    • Thanks, Betsye – I believe in doing show and tell with my students. When I taught gifted kids, I asked them to use Web 2.0 tools to display their learnings about a topic of their choice. They were never forced to use the tool – but with some tools (like Voki), tney didn’t see the power of the tool until I showed it to them.

      Happy you found my post of value – I figured with the LED lights – the cost would be less than $3 per student.

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      June 30, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      • I think we are both on the same page, Jackie. I too have taught gifted and now run/teach in a very small independent school I founded 33 years ago. Love reading your posts. Betsye

        bpsargent

        June 30, 2014 at 10:39 pm

  2. Reblogged this on limfablog and commented:
    Thanks for sharing!

    fbartoli

    July 7, 2014 at 9:53 am


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