User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Stages of Being a Maker Learner

with 9 comments

So what is making? I’ve proposed that the heart of making is creating new and unique things. I also realize that in order for this type of making to occur, there needs to be some scaffolding so that maker learners can develop a foundation of knowledge and skills. The end result, though should be maker learners creating new things by and for themselves. The ideas in this post have been sparked by the SAMR model. I see a similar pattern or progression with maker education:

  • Copy – make something almost exactly as someone else has done.

In this age of information abundance, there really is an unlimited number of DIY resources, tutorials, Youtube videos, online instructors and instructions on making all kind of things. These resources provide a good beginning for acquiring some solid foundational skills and knowledge for learning how a make something one has never made before.

  • Advance – gain more advance knowledge and skills by doing similar projects

During this stage, the maker learner, who desires to learn more about a given skill, project, or product, gains more advanced skills and knowledge by exploring additional and more advanced resources and by using these resources to create more advanced makes.

  • Embellish – add something that has been done; add a little of one’s self to it.

When embellishing, maker learners extend their copied projects to include their own ideas. They tailor the copied projects to include their own ideas or embellishments. Example embellishments can be found with 3D printing, Makey-Makey, and littleBits adaptations.

  • Modify – take what others have done and modify or morph it into something new.

When modifying, maker learners take something that has been created before and tweak it to make something new. An example is the cardboard challenge where kids who were inspired by Caine’s Arcade build their own cardboard creations.

  • Create – make or create some new, unique, different than what has been created before

When creating, maker learners create some unique or new. A simple example is when kids (and adults) take apart toys and use those parts to create new kinds of toys. A more complex example was the first folks who created prosthetic arms for 3-D printers.

Getting to Create stage will not occur for everyone but the Create doesn’t have to be that unique or earth shattering. It just means making something – anything more different or unique than what has been made before. I do believe, though, that maker learners need to get beyond the Copy and Advance stages to add something of themselves to their makes. I believe this is what true making is all about.


Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

July 28, 2015 at 3:27 am

9 Responses

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  1. These stages are fantastic and reflect well of the process. The scaffolding stages are important as we are reaching in differentiation and students’ purposeful thinking. Stage 1 the Copy goes well with the prompting of ideas and moving forward to creating. Thanks for presenting the maker stages.


    July 28, 2015 at 11:39 am

  2. Ditto to the comment above! This model will be really helpful – it gives everyone a really easy entry point and describes the direction that will lead to successful and fulfilled makers. Love it!

    Michelle Carlson

    July 28, 2015 at 3:52 pm

  3. Great infographic – I will be sharing this out to all of my makers. It is exactly what I talk about when I present and discuss on/about Makerspaces. thanks!

    Christine Schein

    July 31, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    • Great – let me know what they think!

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      July 31, 2015 at 6:53 pm

  4. Jackie, I happened to have stumbled upon your blog and I am absolutely elated at the wealth of knowledge in it. Talk about serendipity!

    I have been especially captivated by your writings on the Flipped Classroom and encouraging creativity in the classroom. As a young educator those concepts have been very dear to me and I am surprised at the eloquence with which you speak about them and the clarity you give them. I will be following this blog closely!

    I have recently started a new educational project, I call it the Open Source Learning Project. It is a personal attempt at “Unschooling” my college education (of lack-thereof, I should say). I will be incorporating some of your ideas in my journey but would be honored if you could give me some feedback or suggestions on it.

    Luis Francisco Contreras

    August 2, 2015 at 8:46 am

    • Your post; your articulation of your unschooling journey is impressive. Keep blogging and tweeting (?) if you do. I also recommend getting involved in #stuvoice on twitter.

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      August 2, 2015 at 7:31 pm

  5. Jackie, after creating a successful program this year in a middle school, we are documenting and sharing our work via a book, so that others may benefit. One of the things that was really invaluable along the way, was the graphic you created for this post. Can I have your permission to refer to your blog in my book and also to use this graphic as one of the resources we appreciated having access to? Full credit for your work, along with a link to your blog will be included.

    Thank you!

    Michelle Carlson

    June 13, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    • First of all, major congrats on your success! Happy that this graphic helped you along the way. All my work is creative commons so feel free to use it while giving me credit. Let me know once you book is complete so I can see it!

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      June 13, 2016 at 10:43 pm

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