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.
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.