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Taxonomy of Making

Our school has invested in a pedagogy of creativity, student ownership, and innovation. We strive to make learning personal while cultivating curiosity and a tenacity for learning in students. The taxonomy pictured above represents a summary of my experiences and thinking around “making.” It is a continuum designed to elicit reflection and support the push towards increased student ownership.

One of the strategies we’ve used to increase student ownership is a fleet of Mobile MakerSpaces. Last time I counted, we had more than fifteen carts capable of transporting high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech tools to nearly every nook and cranny in our building. Tools range from 3D printers and robotic droids to PVC pipe, Play-Doh, and knitting looms. (There's a short video of this at the bottom of this post.) These materials support the work of some of the most effective and growth-oriented teachers I’ve ever known.

This could quickly dovetail into the world’s longest blog post if I began to highlight even a portion of the incredible work and learning I’ve seen our teachers facilitate. (This work is not limited to Mobile MakerSpaces either.) Instead, I want to open up a dialogue about deeper learning.

While much of this learning is centered around helping students develop their talents and potential, it also involves professional learning as well. The past several years our school has hosted countless educators from different districts who are striving to implement a more experiential pedagogy. When collaborating with different educators we’ve been asked variations of the questions below numerous times:

  • How does this support student achievement?

  • How do we start?

  • Does this (insert random idea or example) count as making?

  • How do you fund your MakerSpaces?

Making sense of “making” starts with a belief; not an answer, definition, or grant. I believe all students should have the opportunity to create. I believe creativity transcends technology, and that a commitment to teaching the whole child is more than mere words.

Creativity doesn’t need to conflict with standards-based learning either. The different levels of “making” can support standards-based learning. I’ve seen it done on each end of the continuum; from wildly original student-led projects to carefully executed teacher-led learning. I’ve also observed students who might never have had access to this level of learning thrive with the opportunities they’ve been provided in school.

If you’re new to “making” or looking to bolster student creativity and collaboration, the video below is worth watching. I’d appreciate any feedback on the taxonomy and duly acknowledge that it is a formative work in progress.



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