It is difficult for me to figure out a project that could integrate my content with making because I still do not know which grade level I am teaching next year. I do know that I am going to be teaching a primary grade, most likely first, third, or kindergarten. It is most likely that I will be teaching first grade, so I am going to focus on the first grade forces science concept “Air, land and water have weight and take up space. They are associated with forces which shape and influence the earth” (Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, n.d.) With this standard, I could have my students make something that moves by wind force.

I could allow them to make things out of paper, K’Nex, Tinker Toys, Legos, or anything else they would like to choose. I have a fan that I keep in my classroom, so they could test their creations and make changes. I would probably let them work in partners or by themselves and give them time to brainstorm and plan before building. It would be exciting to see what my students create and I think it would be fun show parents their creations at our parent’s night.

The best part about this project is that I could assess my students without giving them a test. In fact, I think Hall said it best when she wrote, “One of the beauties of making is that there is something tangible beyond a paper or a test that shows that a student has developed a skill and expanded his or her knowledge in the process” (Hall, 2014). Further, parents would be able to see how I assess their child’s work. I would love to allow students to take their project home and enhance it over the weekend with their mom and dad then return it to class on Monday to show it off to classmates. That would be a fun family project, although, I would have to think about how it would work if I allowed students to work with a partner.

This class has me excited and energized to create units that allow my students to be makers in our classroom, even though I have little experience with making. I do think that it will be fun for my students and I to learn together. I agree with the statement by Martinez and Stager, “Teachers instinctively know that projects are worthwhile, even if they do not have much experience with project-based learning” (Martinez & Stager, 2013). This statement gives me hope and encouragement while making me eager to find ways for my classroom to be a maker space. I think that many teachers want to have a project-based learning environment, but are unsure how to implement it.

References

Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. (n.d.). Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from Grade 1 Science Standards: http://www.k12northstar.org/sites/default/files/1grade1.pdf

Hall, M. (2014, Nov/Dec). Library Media Connection. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from Using Makerspaces to Teach English Language Arts Common Core State Standards: http://www.librarymediaconnection.com/pdf/lmc/reviews_and_articles/featured_articles/Hall_November_December2014.pdf

Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

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5 thoughts on “What project could help me integrate my content with making?

  1. I like your idea of students being able to bring projects home and how you can use projects to assess students without giving a test.
    I teach primary too. I don’t know about you but I struggle with finding meaningful primary projects that solve problems. I guess that’s why it’s important to brainstorm with your students. I know they could come up with an endless list. This week I came across “Squishy Circuits” in my research. There are lots of YouTube videos and websites about Squishy Circuits – here is a link to one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDZo51k2BWQ. Squishy Circuits seem perfect for primary.

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    1. Thank you for sharing “Squishy Circuits” with me! I am super interested! I agree that it seems perfect for primary grades. It is definitely something that I would like to try!

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  2. Your project sounds awesome and has a lot of potential to grow into other projects – the impact of air on land and water, how much air is needed to move various weights and sizes (volume and surface), or even asking students to imagine new uses for wind energy or force. 🙂 Even if you find more complex projects, you can scale them down a bit to be more appropriate for your students. I also think having students evaluate and reflect on their own work is a good way to assess their work and understanding of the concepts in the lesson. Tinkering and making is also a great opportunity for differentiation so students might come up with their own products to be assessed and bring their own unique perspectives to the project. They will probably enjoy seeing different interpretations of the same concept!

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    1. My students love project journals. They kept one for the seed they planted and observed it as it grew and they asked everyday when they would get to write in their journal. I was a bit surprised that kindergarten students would be so excited, but honestly, they were excited about everything. I agree that tinkering is a great opportunity for differentiation and it allows for students to show off different skill sets.

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