Sunday, March 30, 2014

Making It Happen: The Maker Movement

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 30 

Check out all the Make 2 Learn organizations
By now you have heard of the Maker Movement. With hacker spaces and maker clubs cropping up in schools, communities, and online spaces everywhere, opening up time to tinker has grown from a small grass-roots movement into what some might consider a paradigm shift, especially when it comes to school settings. More and more are we seeing teachers and students engaged in hands-on, project-based learning that requires learners to think creatively and critically while collaborating to construct something tangible. Students are trying, failing, and trying again. Learners plan, play, and produce. The Maker Movement attracts many teachers and students because it is not simply about producing. It is about creating. It is about the connected processes of learning that students engage in as they think through problems and construct their own learning. And at the center of the learning, of the creating and constructing, are students.  Students own not just the product, but the process as well.

This distinction between products and creation is being explored by teachers in all sorts of classroms. Hands-on learning is not just for the science classroom.  English and language arts classrooms across the country are actively engaged in the Maker Movement. Support for these endeavors can be found in organizations like the National Writing Project (NWP), the International Reading Association, and Edutopia. You'll find playlists of TED Talks all about craftmanship and articles on the international impact of the Maker Movement in the Wall Street Journal. The Maker Movement is making more than just a few small ripples in education.  It is wave, changing the way we empower students.

And this makes absolute sense to me. I’ve always been a crafter. I come from a long line of crafters. When I was very little, my mom would have me clean the gallon milk jugs we collected for her mother, my grandma. Grandma would use the plastic handles to create kitchen dish washing scrubbies, which she sold in craft fairs all over western Michigan. My mom sewed. She sat me down at a sewing machine when I was eight to stitch my first skirt, and I’ve been crafting and sewing ever since. 

My little guy has some loose teeth. Together we sewed this tooth pillow.
Crafting is not only a way to express my creative side, but it is also my connection to others. The variety of people that I have met through craft shows and classes, walking through fabric aisles and in online communities, has enriched my life. Crafters see a world of possibility around every corner. We see opportunity in discarded glass containers and potential in torn clothing. We are never far from a needle and thread and always carry a notebook for when inspiration hits, which it does quite often. We are do-it-yourselfers that like to dabble and make mistakes, knowing that however a project turns out, we will learn from the process. We are a group that encourages one another, that shares what we have learned, and that look out for each other.

I am a maker.

So it is time for me to hit publish and go connect with some other makers!
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