Tomorrow I’m heading down to Richmond for my first VAIS conference. When we moved from San Jose 5 years ago, I was so flummoxed by Virginia’s geography and traffic patterns that I wrote off any activity further afield than Fairfax. Our horizons expanded steadily over the years, but it’s taken this long to feel like I have something to contribute to the larger conversation of Virginia Independent Schools.
I’m Andrew Carle, a long time math and edtech nerd. For the last 5 years I’ve been at Flint Hill School working to build a productive model of teaching and learning in a 1:1 environment. Along the way, though, I fell into something else.
I call the class Makers and refer to it in writing as MakerEd, but those are largely flags of convenience. Classes at our school need to be called something, and when if you’re running a twitter chat (Tuesdays! 9pm!) #makered has distinct advantages over #Constructionist or #SubjectAgnosticStudentLedInquiry. I recognize, and apologize for this contribution to buzzword-burnout.
I’ll do my best to cover the MakerEd basics in my presentation, but here’s the big picture in some other voices.
I’m not sure I’m qualified to even recite Gary Stager’s resume. His fantastic keynote from Stanford’s FabLearn conference earlier this month covers the breadth and constructionist roots of MakerEd with more authority than I can muster. If any of this sounds interesting, I can’t recommend Constructing Modern Knowledge enough.
Read more Papert. You can start small with the 8 Big Ideas of the Constructionist Learning Lab or 20 Things to Do With A Computer. Bret Victor recommends Mindstorms in language stronger than I can use in public as a teacher. He’s not wrong. The Children’s Machine is also great.
There’s dozens of schools across the country that are embracing a Maker Mindset as a primary goal for their students, and building a whole range of programs and facilities in the process. You can find a subset of those teachers listed at k12makers, but my sense is that 10x that many are starting up and running silent. When you run across those teachers, when you become that teacher, reach out! There’s fantastic teachers from schools of every shape and size pushing at this.
I do my best to write in both the peaks and valleys of my MakerEd experience, and I encourage you to do the same. What keeps the MakerEd tent broad and focused on new learning experiences for students is conversation among voices that traffic in authenticity, rather than authority. We are educators. Learning environments are what we make, and we need to share widely.