Saturday, 6 September 2014


I’m presenting today at the MakerFaireYYC in a panel of outstanding CBE teachers and other teachers - I’m more excited about what I can learn than what I have to share! Some questions they have prepared for us are:
  1. ntroduce yourself and tell us how you’ve brought Maker to your school?

I’m Mike MacKenzie, and I was in the LC at Keeler for a few years. The LC space is a formal library with a student focus that encourages and supports hands-on learning and collaboration. Learning Commons, though, seem to be in a constant state of evolution. As the LC model develops, it has begun to emerge as a place where things (teacher directed and student directed) are being made/practiced. We just facilitate this evolution. 

2. Where/how did you connect maker to what you’re teaching? 

I taught with students throughout all grades (K-6), often on projects in Social Studies, Science, or Math. Each group was “making things” (zombie shelters and other blueprints in math, parachutes, cars, and airplanes in science, etc.). My role in the LC was to make learning visible and attainable to all students - so maker stations were born. Why should only grade 6 students make parachutes? All kids should get a chance... And with that our maker stations were born. Recess and lunch hour meant kids from across the school could come and build the grade 6 project. And if they got stuck? Grade 6 students were the experts, so they connected with them!

3. What inspired you to want to try maker?

Visual learning... Shared learning... Accessible learning... Kids are entrepreneurial, imaginative, and engaged when they have an environment that is safe, available, and where they can feel free to make (or make mistakes). Kids learn from other kids. When we set up that environment, the learning didn’t stop when kids left the classroom.  

4. What were your challenges? 

Mess and noise. At the beginning we didn’t set up the expectations for cleaning up afterwards (and the storing of projects), and often it felt trashed. And because we didn’t set a number limit on the kids entering the LC, we had too many kids at lunch. We generally fixed these with time and giving clearer expectations. 

5. How did you set up your space physically? 

The Learning Commons at Keeler is a big open space with tables on castors that can morph into a thousand different combinations. Eye-Hooks were screwed into bookshelves for pulley stations (4 or 5 throughout), stations were set on top of book shelves and in tubs, and a RaspberryPi was connected to a tv (also on wheels) that was standing only for groups to program. 

6. What do you see as the future of maker in Education? 

The future of a “Maker” education is potentially enormous. Open challenges presented by students (or teachers), as teachers facilitate and encourage the growth of entrepreneurial spirit... Kids are trusted (and groomed) to be designers. Trust is shown by providing time, materials, and by allowing noise. Students will teach other kids, too. Not in a strictly, “Science Fair” way where only the end product is shown- they will come together throughout the process and celebrate the process and the end products. Assessment, too, will be on competencies and processes where even if an end product doesn’t work, the ideas and creativity will be considered with more weight. 

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