At the start of the year I was in a contemplative mood and started a series of tweets under the tag #PRTSurvival tips. What started as a joke did turn serious and by number three I tweeted this:
For me this has been my starting point for all project planning and brainstorming (thank you @ipadwells) and it has felt invigorating to think big and imagine what could potentially unravel in my room this year.
However in the same breath I am reminded of the space I felt when I came to the back end of my first term teaching. Scared that I had strayed too far from the traditional I reined myself and the project in leaving a project I know wasn’t quite as epic as it could have been. While I understand that, yes it was my first term teaching I also know that I need to ensure that each term (actually each day) I see it as an opportunity to strive to be better than the day before. Not better than anyone else, just better personally. And to not be boring.
So with a couple more days before I get my first class of students through the doors I have had to take these ambitious maker projects and shape them into lessons. I need to get my ‘maker’ ducks in a row. My plan for the Year 8s is to embrace maker culture and shake off any remnants of kit-set technology projects. My challenges as I see them at the moment is logistics around materials required (especially as there will be 100 students doing this program simultaneously) and ensuring I am able to facilitate what students need as they need it, I don’t have the luxury of thinking I can slot a workshop in the next day.
This thought about getting my ducks in a row has been marinating as I drove home and I felt conflicted by the feeling to have everything sussed and yet knowing this is not actually possible with independent maker projects. It comes back to the striking the balance between ‘just in time’ and ‘just in case’ during every lesson. Over the next term these projects will be unpacked and unravel in the classroom and after a chat with a fellow teacher I’ve come full circle and realised that I can’t plan what I don’t know …yet.
The power of maker projects are that they are student led and driven by curiosity and tinkering. The mechanics of makerness sits alongside the Technology curriculum nicely, AOs naturally get hit as students move through the design process. I have given some structure for possible projects by designing ‘opportunity’ cards linking them back to gamified badges based around tinkering skills and thinking dispositions (I’ll share this soon). If students get stuck or struggling to come up with their own problem to solve they can select one of these cards.
I feel like my thinking has come full circle and I needn’t think about how to herd the ducks into the pond because that actually it doesn’t matter, any path the students take will see them on a maker journey and they’ll make their own way.