Rather than the maker experiences being an after school program, an add on activity, or an activity that is implemented when students have done their regular lessons work, it should be part of the regular, day-to-day curriculum. As noted in USC Rossier Online, “In order for your school and students to be fully invested in maker education, it has to be integrated into your curriculum, not squeezed in” (https://rossieronline.usc.edu/maker-education/sync-with-curriculum/). Ayah Bdeir, who invented and runs littleBits, had this to say about integrating maker education into the curriculum:
It’s time for maker ed to move into the mainstream. Making should not be relegated to the times spent outside of class, e.g. lunch or after school. Nor should it only flourish in private schools, which don’t have to teach to standards. We need to work to show how making is a rigorous process that leads to valuable new technologies, products and experiences. Specifically, we need to tie maker projects to standards-based curriculum and show clearly the kinds of knowledge, skills and practices students learn as part of making (https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-09-24-building-connections-between-maker-ed-and-standards)
Albemarle County Public School District is very intentional in their implementation of maker projects:
Maker projects can be created to support just about any subject area, from science to history to language arts. Maker education can be a tool for teaching the curriculum that you already have, At a glance, maker projects may appear disconnected from the curriculum. What may look like an arts and crafts activity, or just a bunch of kids playing with Legos, is actually a way to teach about ancient Rome or how to write a persuasive essay. (https://www.edutopia.org/practice/maker-education-reaching-all-learners)
To do this, though, the educator needs to approach his or her curriculum and lessons with a maker mindset. With this mindset, he or she figures out creative ways to integrate maker activities into existing lessons and instructional activities. The educator in these situations starts with the standards and objectives of their lessons, as they typically do with their regular lessons, and then designs and/or locates maker activities that fit the lesson. It simply becomes, “How can I add a making element to my lessons to reinforce concepts being learned?”
For subjects like science, this is a little easier as the labs that often accompany science lessons often have a hint of STEM or maker education. With a little tweaking, these labs can become more of a maker education type of activity. For example, if students are learning about circuits, they could wire cardboard model houses with lights and fans.
For subjects like language arts, this integration is a little more challenging but with a little creativity, it is possible and exciting. An example is Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach’s program, Novel Engineering:
Novel Engineering is an innovative approach to integrate engineering and literacy in elementary and middle school. Students use existing classroom literature – stories, novels, and expository texts – as the basis for engineering design challenges that help them identify problems, design realistic solutions, and engage in the Engineering Design Process while reinforcing their literacy skills.
Example books that offer engineering or maker education challenges include:
The benefits of this type of curriculum integration include all those benefits described for maker education, in general, but also include:
- Increased learner interest in and engagement with content rich lesson activities.
- Lesson activities may become a gateway to content areas for learners who may not have been interested in that content area in the past. For example, making in language arts may spark a STEM interest for students who have previously only been interested in language arts; spark the interest of STEM-oriented students in language arts.
To help integrate maker education into the curriculum, I developed the following lesson plan template to assist teachers with this process.
Example Maker Education Lesson Plan
Vision for this Lesson and for Student Learning (What is the overarching purpose of this lesson? How does making enhance the lesson? Consider relevancy, authenticity, transfer to other life situations):
Student Voice (What are the interests and needs of the students? How is their voice incorporated into the development of this lesson?):
Standards Addressed (Think cross-curriculum and 21st century skills; think process as well as content learnings):
- ISTE Standards for Students (for detailed descriptions and sub-standards, see https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students):
- Empowered Learner: Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.
- Digital Citizen: Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical.
- Knowledge Constructor: Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
- Innovative Designer: Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.
- Computational Thinker: Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.
- Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
- Global Collaborator: Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.
- 21st Century Skills (see for detailed descriptions at http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework to add specifics):
- Global Awareness: _________________________________________________
- Financial, Economic: _______________________________________________
- Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy: _________________________________
- Civic Literacy: _____________________________________________________
- Health Literacy: ___________________________________________________
- Environmental Literacy: _____________________________________________
- Creativity and Innovation: ___________________________________________
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: _________________________________
- Communication: ___________________________________________________
- Collaboration: _____________________________________________________
- Information Literacy: _______________________________________________
- Media Literacy: ____________________________________________________
- ICT Literacy: ______________________________________________________
- Flexibility and Adaptability: ___________________________________________
- Initiative and Self-Direction: __________________________________________
- Social and Cross-Cultural Skills: ______________________________________
- Productivity and Accountability: _______________________________________
- Leadership and Responsibility: _______________________________________
Lesson Challenge Statement – Framing the Experience: (How will the maker lesson be framed or frontloaded? – What is the big challenge for this activity? What essential questions do you want learners to explore? What overarching concepts do you want learners to investigate? Is the challenge open and ill-defined so there are multiple opportunities for student interpretation, innovation, and creativity?) The maker lesson can be framed or frontloaded through:
- Introducing Essential Questions
- The Use of Scenarios
- Specifying the Standards
- Asking Questions Related To Personal Skills
- Asking Questions to Help with Scaffolding and Sequencing the Activities
- Asking Questions Related To Using Peer Support-Working Collaboratively
(More information about frontloading the maker experience can be found at https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/framing-and-frontloading-maker-activities/)
Required Prerequisite Knowledge and Skills:
Vocabulary: (What vocabulary do you want learners to learn and use?)
Getting Started: (What high impact activity will you do to get learners excited about or hooked into the upcoming lesson?)
- Video: _________________________________________________________________
- Hands-On Demonstration: _________________________________________________
- AR/VR Simulation: _______________________________________________________
- Online Virtual Simulation: _________________________________________________
- Live Guest Speaker (in person or via Skype/Google Hangout): ____________________
- Game (analog or digital): __________________________________________________
- Group Discussion About the Learning Challenge
Tinkering and Exploration: (Will the learners benefit with some free-play tinkering with and exploring the materials?)
Skills and Knowledge Direct Instruction: (What, if any, knowledge and skills do you need to teach directly prior to the maker activity?)
Learner Planning Time: Time for learners to research and plan what they will do for the maker challenge.
Learner Creation Time: Time for the learners to create, to try out several iterations of their ideas, if needed.
Learner Sharing and Feedback Time: Time for learners to share what they are making with their peers; whose role then is to give feedback.
Documenting Learning and Reflection: How will learners document and reflect on their learning? Possible reflection questions include:
- What new skills have you learned because of the maker experience?
- What are the most important learning moments you take with you from this maker experience?
- Would you do this or a similar maker project again? Why or why not?
- Has this maker experience changed you? If yes, how?
- Describe what you have learned about yourself as a result of your maker experience.
- What would you like to change about your maker experience?
- What were the benefits from you participating in this making activity?
- What surprised you the most during your maker experience?
- What did you do that seemed to be effective?
- What did you do that seemed to be ineffective?
- What were the most difficult parts of the maker experience? Why?
- What were the most satisfying parts of the maker experience? Why?
- What personal characteristics made this maker experience successful for you?
- Describe an awareness about a personal characteristic that has been enhanced by your maker experience.
- How does the maker experience relate to your long-term goals?
- How have you been challenged during the maker experience?
- How do you feel about what you made? What parts of it do you particularly like? Dislike?
- What lessons can you learn from the maker experience?
- What positives can you take away from the maker experience?
- How can you apply what you learned from maker experience in your life?
- What advice would you give to someone else working on the maker activities?
- What did you learn through this experience and how can you use it in the future?
- Looking back on the maker experience, what two things stand out to you the most and why?
(For more on reflecting on the maker experience, see https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2018/03/10/reflecting-on-maker-experiences-with-reflection-cards/.)
Assessment: How will learners be assessed? (This is especially important in a school setting where grades and accountability are expected.)
- Rubric – Based on Standards and Objectives
- Teacher Generated
- Student Generated
- Portfolio Artifact
- Submitted to a Blog
- Submitted to a web platform like Seesaw
- Peer Assessments
Sharing Out Findings: How will learners share out what they learned with a larger maker education community? Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame stated: Sharing is s a vital aspect of maker culture that is intrinsic to the underlying ethos of what it means to be a maker and by extension, in my opinion, a human being (https://boingboing.net/2018/05/23/adam-savage-at-maker-faire-th.html).
- Use of Social Media?
- Presentations to Local Students and Community Members?
- News Coverage?
- Teaching Others?