As another MAET class comes to a close, it is time again to reflect on my learning and my practice.
Maker Ed was the focus in this class and as someone who considers herself to be sometimes lacking in creativity, or as my husband refers to it being “librarian creative”, the thrifting project was outside of my comfort zone and somewhat difficult for me. I think that is partly because of the Maker kit I chose. I chose Circuit Stickers and had a lot of fun with them, but they have a pretty narrow range of use that was not particularly adaptable to my curriculum.
Despite my difficulties with this particular kit, I do see the underpinnings of Maker Education, which are similar to those of Problem Based Learning, as the pedagogical foundation of what I do as a teacher librarian. Both as a classroom teacher and as a teacher librarian, I have tried to step out of my own way and allow students to solve problems creatively and collaboratively, to use play as a way to learn, and to allow safe spaces for trial and error – allowing students to learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately, at present, the reality of my district and many others is a focus on the discrete skills that are tested on the standardized exams that determine both student success and teacher expertise in today’s educational culture. Fortunately, I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel in my district. Our new administrators in charge of both Curriculum and Assessment are supportive of the Maker culture and are leading the change to a more creative and personalized environment for teaching and learning. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to apply more of what I learned in this class in the not so distant future.
Assessment in this type of a learning environment requires a little bit more creativity as well. I have been fortunate in that I do not have to give grades for my media and technology curriculum. Many think that means I do not have to do any assessment, but that is absolutely not the case. I just have the opportunity to assess formatively throughout the learning process. Is the student using the best tools for research? Is she using the software properly? Are his key words working to help him find the best resources? This information allows me to personalize instruction and find common gaps. In addition, the students have rubrics to help give them a clear understanding of project expectations.
Personal growth. It is the reason I decided after 25 years of teaching to pursue a second masters in the field of Educational Technology. After two classes, I feel like I am pushing my boundaries and moving outside of my comfort zone which is what I wanted. I am being asked to play with new tools, look at my long held beliefs and explore teaching and learning in a new way. In CEP 810, I learned how to learn in non-traditional ways. I taught myself how to knit, something I had been trying to do for about ten years, simply by reexamining the way I was trying to teach myself and using new tools for content delivery. In CEP 811, I was able to stretch myself creatively in a different way with the Thrifting project. As an introvert, a participatory culture of learning has always been uncomfortable for me. I am happy curled up with a book or my laptop and learning on my own. My MAET classes are forcing me to look at learning beyond my preferred style not only to my own benefit, but also to the benefit of my students. That is the kind of growth I want and need at this point of my career so my personal complacency does not interfere with my ability to model what learning looks like to my students.