How to Remake Your Classroom and Inspire Hands-On Learning in the New Year


How to Remake Your Classroom and Inspire Hands-On Learning in the New Year

from Autodesk

Dec 12, 2017

How to Remake Your Classroom and Inspire Hands-On Learning in the New Year

Over the past decade, Making has transformed education with its emphasis on innovation, collaboration, and hands-on problem solving. Along the way, new tools have evolved to help teachers ignite creativity and tackle real world challenges. EdSurge has shared these educators' stories—as well as those of students who tinker and take risks, build confidence and develop resilience.

We’re now watching another transformation as Making itself moves from the periphery of learning into the heart of K-12 programs. No longer confined to a corner space in the back of the library, Making activities are finding their way into lessons on history and biology, literature and language. Most exhilarating of all are the skills, mindsets and deep learning practices sparked by Making activities.

To envision how a 21st century school might infuse Making into most classrooms, we teamed up with Autodesk and design firm, Killer Infographics. Although we’re in the habit of using words to tell stories, we leaned into this challenge to show you what inspires us. (And yes! We had a lot of fun with this approach!) Even more, we hope our vision will spark ideas for how you might transform your students’ learning.

ReMaking School

Looking for another dash of inspiration? Here are five educators who are already embracing Making across curriculum and classrooms:

To “encourage deep learning,” educator and tinkerer Sam Haynor created the Oakland Toy Lab. It offers teachers a collection of 100 affordable, fun science experiences—think Sponge Motorboat and Craft Stick Catapult—hosted on the DIY Instructables website. The projects illustrate scientific concepts such as buoyancy (motorboat) and history lessons on topics like medieval warfare (catapult). They also help educators build community and let students turn abstract knowledge into tangible and engaging projects.

Building community is what animates award-winning educator, Josh Ajima, who shares experiences and advice through his blog, Design Make Teach.As an instructional facilitator for technology in Loudoun County, Virginia, he encourages schools to weave Making into all subjects, instead of relegating it to a single STEM class. With that in mind, he developed scalable Maker carts that allow multiple classrooms to share a 3D printer, vinyl cutter and other STEAM resources.

With tools like these, students can devise real solutions to real problems, says Rich Lehrer, an innovation coordinator at Massachusetts’ Brookwood School. Lehrer established what he calls a virtual Problem Bank, a place where anyone at school can share a need for a gadget that solves a problem—such as stronger shelf brackets for the library or a self-portrait gizmo for art class. Students then design and build the objects using 3D printing and other digital fabrication tools, resulting in empowering and collaborative interdisciplinary learning.

Assistive technology specialist, Neal MacKenzie, has seen firsthand how collaborative Making creates more equitable learning experiences in all kinds of classrooms. He works with visually impaired students in California’s Sonoma County, where he says that “technology has leveled the playing field.” McKenzie uses computer-aided design to help blind students learn visual concepts—say, by making tactile prints for science class; teachers then incorporate the 3D prints into their lesson plans. “Although crucial for the specific student,” he explains, “it makes the whole lesson accessible and better for everyone.”

Makeosity founder, Karen Kaun, believes that a grounding in STEAM education is indeed crucial for all students. "The ‘E’ is there for engineering, but E could also be there for English language arts," she explains. “It’s really important to be able to articulate, collaborate, argue, and discuss if you want your invention to succeed.”

We couldn’t agree more. We’d love to hear your stories of transformation. Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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