I believe it is every educator’s responsibility to help insure that learners are addressing the following questions during each school day:
- What questions am I asking today?
- What answers am I seeking today?
- What am I exploring today?
- What am I making today?
- What am I finding exciting today?
- How am I playing and having fun today?
- How am I using failure to inform my learning today?
- What am I doing today to cooperate with others?
- How am I documenting my learning today?
- How am I sharing with others what I am learning today?
- What am I doing today that has the potential to benefit the world?
As I’ve discussed in numerous posts, I am an experiential educator. I believe in and promote learning-by-doing and hands-on learning. I approach experiential learning from a cycle of learning which includes reflecting on and analysis of things done through learning-by-doing.
Reflection, as part of the experiential learning cycle, is often as or even more important than the making itself.
A recent research study published via Harvard Business Review concluded that:
- Learning from direct experience can be more effective if coupled with reflection-that is, the intentional attempt to synthesize, abstract, and articulate the key lessons taught by experience.
- Reflecting on what has been learned makes experience more productive.
- Reflection builds one’s confidence in the ability to achieve a goal (i.e., self-efficacy), which in turn translates into higher rates of learning. (http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7498.html)
I am excited about the current trend towards maker education but I believe it needs to embrace a full cycle of learning including engaging in reflection. Reflection within the maker movement and maker education can occur through a process of documenting learning.
Documenting learning can take on many forms:
- writing a blog
- doing a photo essay which includes
- creating a video
- making a podcast
- doing a class wiki
- doing a backchannel through Twitter with a hashtag or a platform like TodaysMeet
- making Sketchnotes and/or mindmaps
- using apps such as Seesaw or Educreations
The key is to offer the learners choices. This builds in and honors more personalized means of reflective learning.
As I’ve mentioned in some other posts, I come from a background in Experiential Education (yes, it is a specific professional discipline). I’ve also discussed reflecting on the learning activities to increase the chances of extracting learning as well as transferable skills and knowledge from the activities. This is an integral part of experiential education – see my previous posts, Where is reflection in the learning process? and The Maker as a Reflective Practitioner.
Another concept common to Experiential Education, that also increases the chances that transferable skills and knowledge result, is framing or frontloading the activities as part of introducing them.
Frontloading is making clear the purpose of an activity prior to actually doing it. The idea is that if participants clearly understand the purpose or lesson upfront, that lesson will repeatedly show itself during the action component. (http://chiji.com/processing.htm)
The practitioner tells or guides participants before the experience on how what they want them to focus on in the activity. It is about guided attention before the activity. (http://www.aee.org/tapg-best-p-matching-facilitation-strategy)
What are the benefits of frontloading?
- It helps participants use the upcoming activity to build on prior knowledge and experience
- It helps participants set purpose and intention for the activity
- It distributes expertise to the participants before the activity begins, as opposed to the facilitator or instructor being the only expert (http://experience.jumpfoundation.org/what-is-frontloading/)
Some of the general themes and ideas for frontloading making activities include:
- Using and Reviewing Essential Questions – explicitly discussed prior to the maker activities. For example –
- What are the attributes of having a maker mindset?
- What skills do you need to be an inventor? an engineer?
- What are the steps to the design process?
- How do inventors, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and/or artists solve problems? How do they overcome challenges?
- Using Scenarios – for example –
- You have been hired to create a new invention to bring kindness into the world. This invention will be shared with all of the kids in the United States.
- The kids at the local shelter would love to have one of the latest and greatest of toys. Make them one of these.
- Specifying Standards – the Next Generation Science Standards include some good examples. The educator can introduce the standards and explain what they mean in terms of the upcoming maker activities. For example:
- Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
- Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
- Asking Questions Related To Personal Skills – for example –
- The following maker activity will draw upon your imagination, creativity, and innovative mindset. What do you consider your strengths in this area that can be used during your maker activity?
- Asking Questions to Help with Scaffolding and Sequencing the Activities – the facilitator can review previous activities and then ask participants prior to the next learning activity –
- In this next activity you will be ask to do _______________, what skills did you learn in the (previous activity) that will help you do ____________ in this upcoming activity?
- Asking Questions Related To Using Peer Support-Working Collaboratively – for example –
- How might you use your co-learners support if and when you get stuck or reach an impasse while working on the next activity?
The idea of extreme learners fits so nicely with my ideas of user-generated education. So what follows is an aggregate of ideas, videos, and graphics related to being an extreme learner.
Milton Chen has stated, “Extreme learners aren’t so different from everybody else.” I believe that the tenets and characteristics of extreme learners can apply to every learner given the support, time, and skills to do so. This actually fits with the ideas and characteristics of heutagogy and self-determined learning.
What follows are some resources and ideas related to being and encouraging extreme learners.
Extreme learners are renegades who take charge of their own education. They apply novel feedback mechanisms and optimize their learning experiences. They have learned how to learn. And you can, too. Extreme learners defy traditional definitions of teacher and student. They design their own curricula from online courses, get their hands dirty at community laboratories and hackerspaces, and seek out mentors. They help others learn, participating in an active learning exchange. They are teachers as much as they are learners. (Extreme Learners)
It’s the hunger for learning rather than raw intellect that distinguishes Extreme Learners from the gifted. Intensely motivated and harboring a breadth of interests, they also consider ignorance a temporary and reparable condition. What’s the lesson here for schools? In short, standardization, repetition, and rigidity are deadly for the curious. “Nothing bores me more than seeing a list of redundant facts I have to memorize,” Mollie Cueva-Dabkoski said. Biology class dragged for Thomas Hunt, but the school turned him down when he tried to replace a few classes with work in a lab outside school. “High school is a big day care system,” Roth said. The main takeaway for teachers is, give students more flexibility and choice over what they’re working on,” Milton Chen said. “Give kids the tools to identify their interests and gather information. And help them find like-minded people to work with.” (What Makes an ‘Extreme Learner’?)
Milton Chen proposes the following 7 Habits of Extreme Learners
Finally, there is a new initiative entitled XQ: The Super School that appears to be promoting an educational learning environment that supports Extreme Learners:
To rethink school, every participant deserves access to the latest science about learning, the latest understanding about what the true need is, the latest expertise about what kinds of students our educational system must now foster. (http://xqsuperschool.org/about).
Workshop Description, Goals, and Outline
Being a maker educator requires developing a new mindset; a new set of skills and roles. Discover, through this workshop, first, a process for reflecting on making through creating circuits and hacked toys, and second, through a self-assessment, the mindset characteristics of an educator who is embracing making education. This workshop is designed for educators who are and want to integrate maker education into their instructional settings.
By the end of this workshop, participants will learn and be able to apply:
- new maker activities that can be brought to their own educational environments
- a process for reflecting on making for the purposes of increasing learning following each make
- the characteristics and qualities of an educator as a maker educator: (lead learner, safe environment manager, relationship builder and enabler, process facilitator, resource suggester and provider, normalizer of ambiguous problem finding and solving, technology tutor, feedback facilitator, tour guide of learning possibilities)
- an assessment tool for evaluating the maker mindset of educators,
- a process for identifying goals to increase one’s potential to be a maker educator.
- Short Introduction to Maker Education – Video
- Frontloading and Framing the Maker Activity
- Make Paper Circuits and LED projects
- Reflect on the Making Process
- Develop Personal Goals for Next Make
- Introduction to 2nd Make: Maker Education and Social Emotional Learning
- Make Toy Hack or Soldering Project
- 2nd Reflection on the Making Process
- Personal Assessment of Mindset of a Maker Educator
- Review Characteristics of the Mindset of a Maker Educator
- Group Drawing with LEDs – The Maker Educator
- Develop Goals for Making in One’s Own Instructional Setting
Introducing Maker Education – https://experientiallearning.makes.org/popcorn/1fjc
Frontloading the Maker Activity
Making Paper Circuits and LED Projects
Reflecting on the Making Process Through Playing “A Maker Reflection Board Game” & Developing Personal Goals for Next Make
Documenting Learning and Developing Personal Goals – Participants will document, reflect on their learning, and develop goals for their next make either through a shared Google Presentation or a Shared Wikispace.
Introducing the Second Make: Maker Education and Social Emotional Learning
Doing a Second Make: Toy Hacking and/or Soldering
Reflecting and Documenting a Second Time
Exploring the Characteristics of the Maker Educator
Creating a LED Enhanced Educator a a Maker Educator Poster
Developing Goals and Strategies for Bringing It Back to One’s Work Setting
- Maker Education Website – http://www.makereducation.com/
- The Educators as a Maker Educator ebook – http://www.amazon.com/The-Educator-as-Maker-ebook/dp/B016Z5NZ6O