Initial blog week 10 EDET677
Essential Question: Why does “Lewis Angapak Memorial School (LAMS)” need a makerspace?
At Lewis Angapak Memorial School (LAMS), we serve a very, very high percentage of students who live in lower-income households. At the heart of a growth mindset is the students’ beliefs about whether “you can learn new things, but you can’t change a person’s intelligence” (Sparks, 2016, p. 2). Since “a growth mindset was a greater predictor of success for poor students than it was for their higher-income peers” (Sparks, 2016, p. 2), when persistence and grit were promoted, according to research completed by Claro, Dweck, and Paunesku in Chile with 168,000 10th Grade students. Students from poverty are more likely to have a fixed mindset, believing that they cannot change their skill sets or intelligence. I believe many students have this fixed mindset at LAMS.
For example, when new teachers come to our school to teach from an outside state, often I hear statements that reflect this fixed mindset. More specifically, the students have been taught overreliance on the teacher for help. Martinez & Stager (2013) have led me to realize that we are definitely not alone: “Kids have been taught through the years to expect teachers to spoon-feed them detailed recipes for success” (p. 190). What is even more eye opening is that “removing that safety net may cause some cognitive dissonance, especially for your most successful students” (Martinez & Stager, p. 190). We are on track in changing this at the elementary levels so that students have a growth mindset.
Furthermore, I believe incorporating technology and other creative making into the content areas will help students delve deeper into the meaning of what they are learning—in every content area. A Makerspace provides a place for creating with other students and can become a shared space that inspires students when they see other projects in the making.
At LAMS, we need two areas for Makerspaces. I have gone through this in more depth in another blog post; so in summary, one space would be for older students upstairs in our school with the more dangerous making tools while another would be in a portion of our library and in my room which is right next to the library.
To encourage a growth mindset across the grade levels this coming year, we need to begin with kits like the Arduino Circuits kits. For example, when students are taking physics this fall in 9th grade, there will be a section of the text devoted to learning about atoms, which fits exactly in with using kits to get started using hands on learning to build computational literacy. Students will learn programming and electronics (focusing on ‘how’) in the form of “material computational literacy” (Berland, 2016, p. 197) one of three components of computational literacy. Arduino Kits start students out with copy and paste code, and gradually build into adding code. Then our LAMS students need to discuss with each other and clearly articulate “to whom and for whom” through “social computational literacy.” The skills of explaining to others will build our students teaching and speaking skills along with technical skills. “Cognitive computational literacy” describes why (p. Berland, 197).
Specifically, students at LAMS may have a different way of viewing the world from the textbooks they encounter. “Schank argued that humans build up linked, recursive models (called scripts and schema) and learn when those models prove insufficient.” At LAMS, facilitated experimentation with “productive failure” in making and tinkering will guide our students toward how to analyze a problem through critique and evaluation. I appreciate how Berland states that “understanding the problem space—is a key move towards literacy rather than raw skill or knowledge” (p. 201).
Loertscher, Preddy, & Derry (2013) propose a model to describe a Maker, Using, Tinkering, Experimenting, and Creating (uTEC) Maker Model. This is how I visualize LAMS transitioning students from being teacher dependent to independent creating.
- Beginning at the Using level, students “re-create something others have already created,” . . . follow “step-by-step instructions already developed by another to create . . . at the consuming level” (p. 3).
- The Tinkering level, is a formative stage that involves “questioning the how and why”; such as “altering code just to see what happens” (p. 3).
- The Experimenting level, is where students leave behind things that others created and begin to design something new. This is the stage where “ideas begin to flow, trial and error are enacted as hour after hour slips by unnoticed” (p. 4). I want students at LAMS who are at this level to think critically and ask questions like: “I like this idea; not that. Does this work? What if? No, not right yet. . . . What if?” (p. 4).
- At the highest level, Creating level, students will work to think independently and as a group to create “a novel product or design” p. 4). At this level, students share their intelligence as a collaborative group so that “what emerges is greater than the sum of the minds that created it.”
Here is an example of a young man in TED Talks developed through these stages from tinkering “In the Maasai community where Richard Turere lives with his family, cattle are all-important. But lion attacks were growing more frequent. In this short, inspiring talk, the young inventor shares the solar-powered solution he designed to safely scare the lions away.”
I agree with Berland who states that experimentation “requires prior understanding of the problem space . . . and with tinkering “learning what might happen through making semidirectedly and failing” . . . is “productive failure” (p. 201). The students at LAMS bring a perspective from their own environment that may require facilitating a bridge between what they know and understand within their own environment and what the textbook is teaching. Richard Turrere in the TED talks YouTube clip solved a problem with lions through an understanding of electronics he had built up over time. Being from different environments from the majority population does not equate a fixed mindset; rather it obliges the teacher (as well as administration’s responsibility to take responsibility for educating themselves on the importance of making at LAMS and the district level) to facilitate connecting that bridge.
Berland, M., Making, tinkering, and computational literacy (Chapter 12). In Makeology: Makers as learners (volume 2), (2016). Peppler, K., Halverson, E. R. and Kafai, Y. (Eds.). New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.
Loertscher, D.V., Preddy, L., & Derry, B. (2013). Makerspaces in the school library learning commons and the uTEC maker model. Teacher Librarian, 41(2), pp. 48-51.
Martinez, S. L. & Stager, G. (Ph.D.) (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.
Sparks, S.D. (July 20, 2016) . Growth mindset: How much can it counter poverty’s damage? Education Week’s Blogs. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2016/07/growth_mindset_how_much_can_it.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news2
Turere, R. (Feb. 2013). My invention that made peace with lions. 7:20. TED. Retrieved 7-21-16. http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_turere_a_peace_treaty_with_the_lions