I am still struggling in this process of making meaning with what we’ve been tinkering. During our exploration we were given the opportunity to tinker with some common maker kits. We played with Makey Makey, Little Bits, Squishy Circuits, Paper Circuits, Coding, 3D printing, and Raspberry Pi. While all of them, with the exception of Raspbery Pi (which seemed constructed for the sole purpose of frustration), were interesting, I failed to see the connections to ELA Content. In fact, I walked away with a sneaking suspicion that this was counter-intuitive to the TPACK model that we’d just learned. It seems the problem, or quest, is using English to teach Makering, instead of the reverse. And even when I tried to think of it in this way, I still had difficulty coming up with something creative and feasible. It seems that STEM subjects are ideal for Makering, where ELA is ideal for supporting STEM subjects in communicating the meaning behind these nebulous projects.
However, I still have a challenge to accomplish. I did see a couple themes emerge from the tools we worked with. Connection seemed to repeat over and over. In most of the kits, there was something that required linking objects, or a chain of reaction. Cause and effect seemed to be at the heart of all of the toys. Little Bits involved connecting magnet parts to complete the circuits necessary to light an LED or spin the rotors of a fan. Squishy circuits required connecting wired to conductive play doe and a battery in order to light an LED or set off a buzzer. Even coding required pushing this button, or submitting that string of characters in order to make anything happen. It made me think of how often I’m asking students to make connections in their learning, or asking them to create connections for the readers of their own writing.
I ask them to make connections between their evidence and their claims, I ask them to insert sensory detail in their narratives to connect their reader to real life experiences, and I even ask them to bulk up what I call “sentence sophistication” by connecting dependent and independent clauses. It seems logical that I could use these same kits to metaphorize these concepts.
So my challenge becomes:
How might I use Maker Movement Principles to support ELA CCSS based objectives?
How might I use the Design Process to make connections to ELA content?
How might I ask my students to “make” connections as they learn ELA content?