Monday, October 8, 2018

Writing IS Making #MakerEd #CSforAll

The more I have spent time sharing Making and Makerspace with people, the more I get to reflect on those conversation and see how others perceive the act of making. I also spend time thinking about my own practices and how I used to teach in my English classes. The one thing that stands out is that writing is an act of making that should be in the same conversation as coding, 3D design, and other forms of creation.

When I work with students and teachers, the focus of making is not learning tools. The focus is on designing to meet the task at hand. The process looks a little like this;

1. Identify the problem or question

2. Generate ideas to address the problem/question

3. Prototype one or multiple of those ideas

4. Evaluate the prototype and have others offer feedback

5. Iterate the prototype or start over with a different concept

6. Repeat steps 3-5 until a final concept is found.

7. Take prototype and turn it into a final product.

8. Share your final product

(Editor's Note: Now, these are not the end all be all steps in the making process. Every person with have their own steps and some mini-steps that fit in here. There are things I might not have written that I take for granted as part of one of these steps. The point I'm trying to get at is that I don't want people to feel that this is a set in stone guideline on how to make.)

These are steps I present to teachers as they plan lessons that involve Project Based Learning and will require students to create an artifact to demonstrate understanding. I also use these steps to support students as they explore creating something that really want. As I started to articulate these steps, I noticed something that connected to my English background. This is the very similar to the writing process.

For writing, I would ask my students to follow this process when writing,

1. What is the question you are being asked to address or the assignment you were given?

2. Generate different ideas to address the topic of this paper or assignment.

3. Put together a rough draft of one of your ideas.

4. Review your rough draft and share with others for their feedback.

5. Make corrections and change the piece based on feedback and observation.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until a final draft emerges.

7. Submit final draft to class.

This writing process can work for a formal essay, a short story, a poem, or any other form of writing. When people talk about STEM only used for Makerspaces, it really bothers me because the Arts belong in a Makerspace. We need to bring all of these pieces together to form STEAM so that all students can feel like the type of making they want to do is valid.

For ELA teachers, I want you to look at this model and see how similar it is to the writing process and I hope you feel more comfortable trying to integrate other forms of making into your classroom. If the students mirror the writing process, they can follow the maker process because they are one in the same.

This one of the ways that The Maker Mentality works across curriculum and can help create a culture that all students and teachers are makers that just use different mediums. So, before you dismiss writing as an act of making, focus on the process and not the tools. I think you will see that making is all around you. 

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