Saturday, May 13, 2017

3D Design in Language Arts #MakerEd

One of the questions I get about 3D printing and design is, "How do you do this in a Literature class?"

On the surface, 3D design in ELA does not seem to make sense, but it is all about a teacher's approach to assessment. I am a supporter of Project Based Learning. I set my students up in a way that allows them to demonstrate understanding of concepts that are meaningful to them. Part of that is introducing them to various tools that can help them demonstrate that understanding. 3D design is just another tool for students to use.

We were wrapping up our unit on To Kill a Mockingbird and I asked my students to demonstrate understanding of a symbol and how it is connected to a theme we discussed in class. For this unit, I showed students how they could use Tinkercad to design and the Dremel Printer to print their project. I gave them a few days in the Makerspace with the Chromebooks so they could get used to the program and brainstorm ideas for their project. Not all students chose to use 3D design for their project, but many did.

For those that did, many of them came up with these amazing designs and wonderful explanations as to why they chose them. They were able to go into detail on how they designed their symbol and how it related to one of the themes covered in class. They were all very proud of their designs and loved showing them off to others. It was also great watching students figure out the different parts of Tinkercad and then helping other students along the way.

One student put in tremendous effort to create something that was awesome and wonderfully detailed.

She wanted to talk about the good and evil conflict in the story and created an angel and devil on the shoulder of a person. The details made it very difficult to print the way it was designed and I'm still trying to figure out the best way to print it. I might help her deconstruct it and print in in pieces. Anyway, this was the first 3D design this student every created. When I told her that she could do this at home for dun and print at school, her face lit up. She just discovered a new passion she did not know existed. 

Here is the chifforobe that Tom was asked to chop by Mayella. 


Another intricate design from a first time designer. 

This design is taking symbols and creating something brand new that had meaning to them based on their reading of the book. 

A student created a gavel to represent the justice system in the story and wanted to make it as real as possible. 

I told him I would print it using the wood filament I have at home so he could stain and paint it. Here is what it looks like after he took it home. 

It broke while he was painting and staining, but he said that it could be a symbol of the broken justice system found in Maycomb that led to Tom's death. 

There are so many other great projects that students spent time on to show they understood To Kill a Mockingbird and some even found out they had a skill for 3D design. 

In the end, the questions is not, "How do you do this in a Literature class?" The real question is, "How are you giving students the opportunity to demonstrate understanding beyond a poster board, power point, or multiple choice test?"

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