Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Making With Purpose #MakerEd

Last week, I published a post on Maker Fatigue. I felt like I was in the spot where I couldn't think of anything to make. It was frustrating because I have spent so much time working with students and their projects, I had the motivation /want to Make, but no ideas.

As I reflected more on the feelings, I decided to take the time and clean up my workspace at home. My space has been dormant the past few months because I have been so busy at school and it looked a bit sad. Cleaning up the space was very helpful because a my organized space can sometimes help me see things more clearly. Is that weird?

During the cleaning, I came across a mini thermal printer I bought over a year ago for a long forgotten project. All of a sudden, something just clicked in my brain. I should make a Raspberry Pi powered camera that prints the pictures on the thermal paper. I got all excited and started researching how this would be possible. Not surprisingly, there were some great examples out there already and they will be perfect to help guide my creation. I had a purpose and I was ready to get started. When it comes to Making in school, are we giving students a sense of purpose with their making?

When students are given a chance to make, are they just thrown in a space and told to make something? That would be frustrating for someone who just doesn't have a sense of purpose for their creation. You spin your wheels and get frustrated because you want to make something, but nothing seems to drive you. How much time is given to students to find a purpose or how much time is spent helping students explore what that means? I felt this way about coding as well. Just sitting and writing lines of code for a game is not going to truly inspire someone to become a coder. Learning to code to make a project that you want is purpose driven learning. When I coded my first lines of code, it is because I wanted to make that LED turn on when I pressed a button. I knew if I learned that, I could make a button do whatever I want. That was my purpose, my drive.

As I think about our makerspace next year, I need to make sure that there is something in place to help students with finding purpose in their making. It could be as simple as wanting to make something beautiful with paints to want to code their first robot. Not matter what the purpose is, as teachers, we need to make sure we help the students find it or recognize it as a driving force in their making.

I'm not sure what my thermal printer/Pi creation is going to look like,  but I'm excited to see what I will learn along the way, and that is my purpose.


(Editor's Note: If you are reading this and are thinking of the movie, The Jerk, you are not alone.)