Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Creating Maker Mindsets in Girls

Monday was a really average day for us in 8C. It was one of those "blah" days where the students weren't engaged and I wasn't really engaged; Nothing too drastic but basically the day was just a bit forgettable.  Not one of my finer teaching moments........

Never mind; Tuesday was awesome! The students were passionate about what they were doing, I was much more engaged and excited and I left school that day in a much better frame of mind.  Later that evening, I was reflecting on "Meh Monday" and why Tuesday was so much more successful. Looking at my planning diary,  I looked at the ratio of creation to consumption learning tasks- no prizes for guessing which day was heavy on the consumption tasks and which was heavily weighted in favour of creative tasks.

"Awesome Tuesday" had seen the girls heavily involved in Makerspace tasks and unsurprisingly they were highly engaged and motivated by this learning. The ability to create with plenty of choice as well as a sense of purpose is motivating and provides the perfect conditions for a great day in the classroom. Phew! Bring on more Makered!

Our Makerspace program continues to evolve and we are seeing huge benefits for our girls. We are moving towards integrating a Maker approach across our curriculum, coupled with timetabled unstructured, exploratory Makerspace sessions. We struck gold this year with our amazing elearning and Makerspace teacher, Liz Fairhall who is passionate about Makered and facilitates amazing experiential learning for our girls.

Here are four ways Selwyn House is nurturing a maker mindset in our girls.

1. Makerspace integrated throughout the curriculum

Makerspace in Unit of Inquiry
Liz meets with each team for a planning session early in the term and together with classroom teachers, a Makerspace inquiry is loosely nutted out. This is where the real Design Thinking comes in. In Year 7 and 8, our Term 1 Maker focus, fitted into our Inquiry work and evolved from a problem identified by the girls; that in today's digital society we lose many the special messages and images we receive digitally because we don't have a way to store them and keep them safe. The learners created amazing artefacts- places they could store and cherish their digital keepsakes. The variety of skills the girls got out of this was pretty phenomenal. You can read more about this amazing Makerspace experience HERE.

Makerspace in Maths
Recently, in Year 7 and 8 we've been making in Maths with a focus on animation.  The challenge was for girls to create a claymation clip which illustrated a mathematical concept, providing a teaching tool for younger learners.

Makerspace in Literacy
There are many examples of this throughout the school but I particularly love this example created by some Year 4 students who had been writing in the fantasy genre. They created this clip giving their Top Tips for Fantasy Writing.

2. Makerspace Exploratory Time

We aim to provide plenty of time for the girls to explore Makerspace materials. Girls are given plenty of opportunities to opt in to workshops or explore during free Makerspace times.  Year 3 and 4s have frequent Challenge and Creativity Days and recently a number of girls signed up for the opportunity to further their green screen skills. The teacher involved stood right back and the children took the lead, planning and executing each step in the process.

This is also the time when the girls get their first experiences of new equipment. They were so excited to get their hands on the DiamondMind 3D printer and it was great to be able to give them some exploratory time to print out some of their Tinkercad creations.

Some of the girls' first  Tinkercad creations

3. "The Unquiet Library"

This is a phrase coined by the amazing Buffy Hamilton, a secondary school librarian in the U.S. She is the queen of library makerspaces and has inspired us as Shirley Smith has led the creation of a Makerspace in our own library. This is where the real tinkering happens. There are a range of learning experiences on offer at any given time in our library. Girls are free to explore. Creations are often formed and left for another learner to come along and improve or modify the previous maker's creation. This is where the making happens for the love it.......entirely student led.

4. Robotics 

Robotics is a huge part of what we do at Selwyn House and has been for many years. Robotics skills are explicitly taught, timetabled weekly for every class from Year 1- 6, and robotics is often used to support learning in the Year 7 and 8 Team as well as our Preschool. We also have two very active Robotics Clubs for Juniors, Y1-3 and Seniors Y4-8. The use of robotics from Year 1 introduces a maker mindset, computational thinking and coding to our five year olds and really gets them excited about STEM learning early on. We feel strongly about getting girls into coding and provide a range of experiences to encourage this.
A Year 7 student works with a mentor and a Raspberry Pi

New entrants work with Beebots
When it became clear recently that a group of girls were baffled by how the NXTs functioned, Squishy Circuits were used to illustrate basic circuitry.

Fun with Squishy Circuits

Of the many, many benefits of Makered for our learners and teachers, I think one that stands out for me is the ability of the girls to surprise and delight me with their Maker creations. It is great to see Creativity where it belongs, at the heart of our curriculum.

At Selwyn House, we are deeply passionate about girls playing a big part in the Maker Movement. And I think it is safe to say that our girls are too!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Bridget - you are going to scoff, but I think this post needs to go straight onto the Facebook page and into the weekly newsletter. Brilliant - and well written!