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July 2018

Education Empower Learning featured

Maker Mornings Empower Learning

Maker Mornings Empower Learning

From the moment they enter the classroom, learners are on the go! Each day, we spend the first twenty-five minutes of class engaging in any activity of choice. A few years back, a ten-year-old girl in my class suggested that we should have maker mornings. Rather than visiting the makerspace here and there throughout the week, learners were seeking the opportunity to create, make and explore on a daily basis. Considering that it was a flexible time in our day since learners could arrive at 8:00 am, but the class didn’t officially start until 8:25, how could I say no? After all, there are incredible benefits to maker education!


Reap the Many Benefits of Maker Education

Fosters Autonomy

Exploring with Sam Labs and other materials

Learners have the freedom to decide what items and materials they want accessible in our classroom makerspace to utilize during maker mornings. That first year, we reorganized a shelving unit in our room along with a cabinet together so that learners were capable of retrieving what they required. Using multiple bins, we were able to identify ways to store materials to avoid our space becoming cluttered. Although truth be told, there are certainly times in which projects take up more space than we anticipate!

Learners are empowered to select any activity of their choice  each morning and often choose to continue working on projects started days prior. With that said, they also have reasonable time constraints (that they assist in creating) for wrapping up projects.


Cultivates Divergent Thinking

Maker education promotes divergent thinking; the ability to generate creative ideas and explore multiple solutions. Learners explore new ways to code Sphero, Ozobot, Dash and Dot, or create music and even game controllers (that really work) using Makey Makey. Additionally, they enjoy making new creations that serve various purposes with everything from SAM LabsLittle Bits, LEGOS, Qubits, Tinkertoys, and the like. With basic materials such as cardboard, tape, foil, and glue, learners have created everything from a foosball table, marble run, marble mazes, and replicas of games commonly found at school carnivals over the years. Following a cardboard box challenge, we then took our projects and shared them at our local Barnes and Noble Mini Maker Faire so that members of the community could interact with our creations and learn from students.

Coding Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop

  As a class, we also engaged in a wearable technology design challenge using Design Thinking. Learners were empowered to ideate endless ways to create forms of wearable technology to either innovate what currently exists or to make something new based on the needs/wants in our society. I observed learners grapple with how to prototype and retool when their design failed to work as they envisioned, thus further cultivating divergent thinking.


Develops Growth Mindset

While we integrate literature, team-building activities, and also embed the language that encourages learners to persevere through challenges throughout daily learning to cultivate a growth mindset in learners, maker mornings have allowed me to watch learners blossom through the development of a growth mindset over the course of the school year. Learners went from wanting to give up on projects and demonstrating frustration to saying, “I might not have this yet, but I’ll get it eventually!” There’s a lot of power that exists behind the word yet. I’ve also observed learners laugh when a structure broke to turn around and then to retool their work to meet success.

Learners became more reflective and understanding of their own needs, along with their peers’, too.  When a friend struggled to grasp how to code Dash to complete the next mission, individuals demonstrated patience and listened with understanding, showing empathy. During this process, learners would clarify and ask questions to promote the thinking of others rather than merely telling the solution. Within maker education, learners are better able to develop the ability to examine why something works the way it does or problem solve how to create a better way, thus fostering resiliency.


Empowers Communication and Creative Expression

We utilize accountable talk structures in our classroom to promote all learners to engage in meaningful conversations focused on their thoughts and learning. Maker mornings encouraged even deeper communication and creative expression as learners collaborated on what they wanted to create, how to design, and the ways they tried to recreate it if so desired. I recognized that learners were interacting with all of their peers based on similar interests as opposed to regularly seeking out those whom they were already close friends with.

Drawing their Prototype using Paper by 53

Additionally, learners felt empowered to creatively express themselves as they developed everything from newscasts to skits and included voice-over in mini-tutorials of what they were making or exploring to share with an authentic audience through our website or YouTube Channel. Throughout each activity, learners communicated with each other by providing their unique input, seeking help, asking clarifying questions, wondering, “what if,” and reflecting on their work.



Sparks Motivation

Learners are eager to arrive at school and express that they want to come even on the weekends!Attendance has increased as a result and those who once faced difficulty to come to school regularly communicated that they now want to be at school to continue working on a project of their choice and to be with their peers. Kicking off the day with maker mornings excites learners and cultivates a warm atmosphere where all are eager to share their ideas.

As a perk, when it’s time to transition to other subject areas, learners demonstrate greater motivation to get started, as their brain is activated and ready! If you currently have a worksheet waiting for learners each morning, I encourage you to experiment with providing choice to start the day. If you opt to explore maker mornings, we are all innovators and can craft opportunities to be unique to the needs of our learners and I always enjoy connecting with educators to brainstorm ideas and provide suggestions.


Learning on the Go!

Our maker mornings empower learners to move where they need to create, make and explore. Learners are driven to capture their making experiences using our classroom iPads and apps including (but not limited to) Book Creator, Explain Everything, and Seesaw. They enjoy app smashing to create a final product by posting on Flipgrid for peers to comment on, or our YouTube page to share with a broader audience. They absolutely love it when past students from other years return to our channel to comment on their videos!

Exploring with Little Bits

Since I have learners who prefer to film in the hallway, another classroom, and even outside with supervision, it’s crucial to ensure that iPads can go anywhere! While we initially had protective cases, I noticed students struggling to hold the iPad steady while recording. Additionally, the back stand would pop off causing the iPads to lay flat. Due to the constant inefficiency, we were open to exploring alternative iPad cases that would improve the learning experience for all.

Rug-Ed ProLOCK iPad cases have revolutionized how learners pilot their learning throughout the day. Learners are better able to capture their experiences with ease, due to the innovative design of the case featuring a curved handle. No longer are students covering the microphone or camera, but they’re equipped to record without unnecessary hassle. Their secure and removable stand remains steady on tables as they demonstrate understanding, provide feedback to peers, and showcase their learning. We found that their cases are one size fits most, meaning that they fit iPad air and on. Furthermore, my mind is at ease as Rug-Ed designs their cases to empower learners to be on the go, and offer optional device repair coverage if preferred


A Culture of Innovation

With a focus on igniting a culture of innovation, we intentionally strive to foster autonomy, divergent thinking, growth mindset, effective communication and creative expression. Our learners are equipped to take their learning on the go and are empowered as co-pilots of their learning. With the new year around the corner, I’m eager to see what next year will bring as each group of learners is unique, bringing innovative ideas to the forefront of the classroom. Join us in the maker morning movement, and share what your learners create using the hashtags of #makermorning and #LEAPeffect!