EDET 677 Week 4: Essential Question: What project could help me integrate my content with making?

EDET 677 Mechanical Applications of Technology, with Dr. Lee Graham

Week 4 Initial Blog Post

by Aleta May 

In my current role as an educator, I am considered to be half-time special education teacher and half-time site test coordinator. This fall we will have a new Site Administrator (SA). He was an assistant principal in a village prior to accepting this position in our village. We have met and talked in person and one question he asked me is “So how can I use you for the other half of your day?” I told him that I had trained teachers to give some of the tests themselves and that with such a big turn over of teachers, I am not sure how many new teachers will come in already knowing how to administer MAP tests or AIMSWeb tests (I had been expected to give all of these when they first came to our school). I believe I will have less uninterrupted time during the many testing sessions that occur through out the year. There is also an individualized assessment for English Language Learners (ELLs) that has required me to stop and give this to about 120 or more each year. Teachers had refused to give the group ELL test, simply by not taking the required online test and that I needed backup authority to push group-wide teacher training on giving their own ELL group tests. This would leave me with make-ups in each testing area and the fall WorkKeys test. Since the new SA has testing experience at his prior position, and knew the teachers to give their own group ELL test, we freed my time up right there.

Further, we talked about using a 3D Printer (which will be the focus of my selected project). He was scouting out my very small room. He had talked with a technology person at our district office about using a 3D Printer for projects. Well, for one thing I was excited. For another, I don’t believe the new SA or myself really understood the word MakerSpace. He wanted to put a round table in my room, but it is not wide enough. I showed him how I could rearrange my desks to face each other and assured him I would clear out some things in my room to make more space. When he came back for a second visit, I was doing just that! He thought he had upset me. I explained that I had just recently decided to complete the Instructional Design and Technology Master’s degree, rather that taking it just part way. I explained as well that I have two other Master’s degrees, and that it may sound completely ridiculous to be going for a third, but that I knew enough to realize we are moving in a new direction in education. He said he did not think it silly, as he is pursuing a doctorate.

This SA showed my husband (Dan, a full time Special Education teacher with a lot of natural technology, electrician, etc. skills) what he plans to do with the small library space that is currently setting there in complete disarray. This space is just outside my room that has windows looking over to it. This SA was a building contractor prior to getting into education. Dan and I built our house. Okay, we have three outliers ready to go.

What is 3D printing? This emerging technology can not only print 2D, but can take printing to the level of “rapid prototyping, solid freeform fabrication, and most commonly, additive manufacturing (AM)” (Hughes & Wilson, 2016, p. 18). If laser beams are used, they can “fuse powdered particles together in layers” and in its beginnings, the peopleat University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering, developed “sophisticated 3D computer-aided drafting (3D CAD) programs” (Hughes & Wilson, p. 18).

Here is an example of how a 3D printer could be used to create a Population relief map by usterwop:

Population Relief Map

This is a way that a 3D computer could be used by a student group studying population differences and impacts through social studies assignments.

A 3D Printer is something that could be added to a MakerSpace. It is not the all and all of the space. The idea is to create an environment, physically and via facilitation (the Contructivist educator) that allows students to make things. Most likely, these things will need to be part of a specific curriculum standard for a class. The facilitator/educator does not need to be an expert on everything students come in to work on. “It is unacceptable and unnecessary to deny children the opportunity to work on something they are passionate about because the teacher is not an expert in that particular field” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 64).

What I see myself doing as a classroom support specialist is helping to create a MakerSpace and connecting student projects to classroom goals for a variety of subject areas and grade levels. In an article by librarian, Margaret Sullivan (2015), she wrote about the library expanding beyond a world of finding answers to questions students propose to a 3D learning environment, breaking past the former 2D paper/pencil/book format to include: “new digital resources, technology tools, and an assortment of ever changing ‘stuff’ in a large, unbreakable space that can adapt to student learning endeavors” (p. 16). Keeping in mind that our school library space will be small (since a large chunk has been redesigned to be a classroom space), I think the factor that will organize it into a MakerSpace is a proper pedagogy that utilizes the space flexibly. The questions to ask, according to Sullivan (2015) include, “Can a student move from critically thinking about a question into inventing an answer with his hands? Can a student jump up with an idea, move to a workstation with a tablet or book in hand and engage with tools to build a model?” (p. 16). She affirms my thinking on getting together with classroom teachers to “expand the project-based curriculum” (p. 17). The next step is to showcase their projects. I notice that we have a glass case in the library that used to showcase new and interesting books—now it just showcases the same books as if they are molded into the case. Small to midsize projects can be placed here.

I think using a rubric called, “Rubric for the 6 Facets of Understanding” by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe Unerstanding by Design, found at: http://www.newtown.k12.ct.us/Portals/Newtown/District/docs/District%20PLC/6%20Facets%20of%20Understanding.pdf  would be a good example guideline for evaluating student use of 3D Printer projects. The six facets are: explanation, interpretation application, perspective, empathy and self-knowledge. It may be that not all six would be used for each thing a student creates; rather some projects may focus more on application than perspective and vise versa. My reasoning is that this rubric framework rewards the student for creativity, deep thinking about these facets without being so directive that I stifle their creative ideas.

Another aspect of a MakerSpace K-12 environment that intrigues me is e-textile. According to Vanderwerff (2014), “an e-textile is a combination of physical-computing and textiles, where people create items like a turn-signal biking Jacket” (p. 2). I clicked on the link in this paper: http://web.media.mit.edu/%7Eleah/LilyPad/build/turn_signal_jacket.html  and thought of how popular it was one year to use reflective tape in our “culture week” activities the first year I was at my current school. I was assigned to this area, and I upped the engagement by finding silhouettes of NBA basketball players, and pretty designs. All of a sudden, even adults became interested in adding decorative reflector tape to their coats for safety as they walked along the boardwalks. I really think it would be very fun to go to a site like the one above to learn about adding LED lights, sensing switches, (and includes introduction to Arduino). This is so new to me; I want to explore more. This could be a project that aligns to health & safety curriculum project.

I think a MakerSpace is a natural addition to a school environment, and the library is the perfect place to guide students into project based learning that is aligned to their curriculum standards. The role of the facilitator might be to bring in small groups or individual students and make observations as to ways the project aligns specifically with curriculum standards to communicate with the classroom teacher. The student could then reflect on the standard(s) in writing to tie in what they have made, or are still making, and make the connections themselves. This is deeper thinking, because they are making, and reflecting on concepts rather than just ingesting what is delivered to them via books or instruction and expressed through content area vocabulary that has no meaning to the student(s).

The next step is for me to make this idea more specific. There are major steps to design an integrated curriculum unit. I will be following the seven steps and template from ConnectEd (2010) as I delve deeper into designing a unit. My inspiration for MakerSpace development is my own special education students who work so hard at academics and having a place for them to express their learning through hands-on design, thus motivating them to read and research the Internet a little deeper; thereby developing reading skills through natural engagement. As expressed by a principal in blogspot, a librarian with “a growth mindset and innovative spirit” can create a “learning environment that invokes relevancy and meaning in Chris’s school day” (Sheninger, 2014). With an overemphasis on academics without shop and arts, many students are left needing a space to make sense of their learning—through making. 


 ConnectEd, The California Center for College and Career (2010). Designing multidisciplinary integrated curriculum units, pp. 1-56.

Hughes, B. & Wilson, G. (2016). Technology and engineering teacher.

Libow-Martinez, S. & Stager, Ph.D., G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

NAF (2016). Integrated curriculum: Making the connection between academic and technical subjects.   NAF Headquarters, New York, NY.Retrieved June 5, 2016 at: http://naf.org/our-approach/educational-design

Schninger, E. (2014). ApPrincipal’s reflections. http://esheninger.blogspot.com/2014/12/impact-of-makerspace.html

Sullivan, M. (2015). Maker, tinker, hacker? Active learning spaces in K-12 libraries. Library Media Connection, pp. 16-17.

Thingiverse: by Usterwop http://www.thingiverse.com Population relief map retrieved on 6-9-16 at: http://www.thingiverse.com/glitchpudding/collections/dataviz/page:1

Vanderwerff, A (2014, 14 May). Makers in the classroom: A how-to guide. EdSurge News. Retrieved June 5, 2016 at: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-05-14-makers-in-the-classroom-a-how-to-guide

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. Retrieved 6-9-16 at: “Rubric for the 6 Facets of Understanding” by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe Unerstanding by Design, found at:

Web.media.mit.edu. Build: Turn signal biking jacket. Retrieved on 6-9-16, at: http://web.media.mit.edu/%7Eleah/LilyPad/build/turn_signal_jacket.html

2 thoughts on “EDET 677 Week 4: Essential Question: What project could help me integrate my content with making?

  1. unicyclepro

    I like your description of your current position and how it relates to the school. It is a challenge to create a maker space and you put some thought into it. It would be great to have a 3D printer for projects and fabrication. I know I would like to have a 3D printer in math class! Makes some concepts come alive in class. Good luck coming up with a project soon. Looks like you are preparing well.

  2. lucassara12

    Lucky!! A 3D printer?! It would definitely be something new to learn. I would have no idea what to do with it, but your ideas sound fantastic. I definitely have found assessment to be the most challenging. How to encourage students to do what they want, and to still give them a grade for it? I really like your rubric that you found. It seems open to interpretation of the project. I will probably steal this resource from you.

    I also really like that you are looking to add your makerspace in a more common ground. This indicates that your whole school may be a little more on board? I can imagine in my school many teachers would be on board, but a couple would probably present with some pushback. Even so I think after seeing it many would be interested. I think this would definitely be something to pose to our school. Could we create a similar area in our library? It is only filled with many old books. Many students don’t even use it.

    I really like how you said this: “The facilitator/educator does not need to be an expert on everything students come in to work on.” This is a main understanding that have tried to come to grips with while teaching in Alaska. We are asked to teach so many different things. Even so I still have some knowledge. With some of the things a makerspace provides it would be very difficult to not be an expert or at least knowledgable. But I am realizing this is necessary for the education of my students. It is something new and I must be willing to learn with my students.


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