At Lighthouse Charter School, we use three Making-inspired models: open-ended student-driven projects, integration into curriculum, and Making-focused curriculum. While a single project may involve more than one of these models, you can use these categories to start thinking about Making in your own classroom, school, or educational program.
Open-ended student-driven projects ask students to do most of the heavy lifting. The open-ended projects have a strong focus initially on the heart, and a student’s interests--”What are you passionate about? What gets you excited? What would just be cool?” But to create a final project, the mind and hands must get involved as well.
Integrating Making into curriculum happens when Making is tied to core academic curriculum or standards, in order to enhance student understanding. For example, when students build circuits using open-ended materials to introduce to concepts about electricity, design bridges to withstand an earthquake as part of a geology study, and deepen their understanding of geometry by programming shapes in LOGO (a computer language developed as a tool for learning), they engage their hands to solidify and deepen the concepts that they are already learning in the classroom.
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In Making-focused curriculum, the goal is to focus on the Making process and skills, shifting from a focus on academic content/standards to a focus on the Making itself. A kindergarten study of sewing, a robotics elective, or a few class sessions on programming with Scratch fit this model.
An important consideration is whether to concentrate on process (such as ideation and prototyping), skills (such as soldering, programming, and sewing), or both, and then tailor instruction to fit those goals. When I design Making classes that focus on process, I have my students write reflections and engage in whole-class discussions to help students think about how they worked through obstacles throughout the project process.