inquiring minds

international teaching

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DIY and Inquiry

One thing I’m really interested in is the idea of Makerspaces.

In an age of consumerism, I like people realizing the value of making or creating something for themselves.

A couple summers ago I got frustrated with the fact that I didn’t know how to make anything. I remembered how I liked to draw when I was a kid, so I bought a Bamboo Tablet and started playing around with drawing. I got really into it and drew my own ‘Infographic’ in lieu of sending home a lengthy letter to introduce my PE program to students and parent.

Lower School PE Infographic

Lower School PE Infographic

Shortly after that I decided I wanted to learn how to knit. Winters in Finland are very cold and I wanted to challenge myself to knit my own accessories. I taught myself using videos from YouTube and KnittingHelp. I also followed several knitting blogs and joined Ravelry, a social network especially for knitters.

This year I feel like I see inquiry in a new light. Inspired by my colleagues, I’ve been allowing my students to investigate topics that interest them, but always within our unit themes. My second graders become enthusiastic and motivated when given this opportunity for ‘personal inquiry’. They beg for more time dedicated to ‘PI’ in our busy schedule and amaze me with their independence and self-direction.

After a conversation with another colleague, I thought, ‘Is it truly personal inquiry if I restrict my students to inquiring within the confines of our unit?’

How much of what my students make or create is their choice? How often do they get to decide what they learn?

How much of what they learn or make is dictated by me?

This may not be the answer, but I was nonetheless thrilled when one of my colleagues introduced me to DIY, an online community for kids that encourages them to make things.

From the DIY website:

DIY is a community where young people become Makers. They discover new Skills, make projects in the real world, and share their work online to inspire and learn from each other. The big idea is that anyone can become anything just by trying – we all learn by doing. Our company and our community strive to make it easier for Makers to build confidence in their own creativity.

Not sure how I plan to use this in my class yet. I like the amount of choice and the freedom to inquire. And I like the idea of kids learning something because it interests them. I’m not 100% convinced about the extrinsic motivation factor, (badges), despite the research out there about the power of gaming elements in real life, (like earning badges and leveling up).

What do your students make?

What do you make?