Your Starter Guide to Maker Spaces by Nicholas Provenzano

6. Maker Spaces and Project-Based Learning>

  • Nick has been a project-based learning teacher for several years. He gradually moved away from bubble tests and now doesn’t use them. He feels that students demonstrate understanding through their projects. One usually started with receipt projects where students are given step by step directions and end up with similar results. From there you can move towards free-range projects that are more open-ended, but still have some constraints regarding content. Finally, Nick got to the point where students had one day every week to work on projects of their own design with minimal constraints.
  • Projects and maker spaces were made for each other. If you want to create and grow a culture of making, it will be hard to do without the freedom that projects allow. When projects are finished they need to be presented to the class in some format. You should also consider showing them off on a classroom blog. Nick requires that every student give at least one TED-style talk each year about a project. There are links here to four of his students’ talks. Since the teacher will be bouncing around the class acting as a cheerleader, co-problem solver, and nudger expect this to log a lot of miles.

7. Failure and Maker Spaces

  • Students experience failure from time to time and many schools spend too much time chastising students who fail. Makerspaces can help this come to an end. By their nature, failure is built in. They allow you to experiment, fail, and try again. As students try and fail they will become better problem solvers and critical thinkers. (Doug: Businesses want people who can learn from failure and move on.) Anyone who has played a video game understands how failing can promote learning and cause you to strive to make it to the next level.

8. Final Thoughts

  • Nick recommends that you avoid planning paralysis and get started. The Internet has a lot of resources and you should share your success too. Check the hashtag #MakerEd. Be sure to involve students as you create your maker space that is accessible to all. Be sure to be a maker yourself and above all, have fun. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Nick if you have questions or need help. Thanks, Nick.

Nicholas Provenzano

  • Nicholas has taught English language arts for fifteen years but has always been a maker. He has a master’s degree from Central Michigan University in educational technology and has spent time traveling the country sharing his ideas about what students can do in the classroom. He is passionate about giving every student a chance to learn something new and exciting. Check out TheNerdyTeacher.Com and follow him on Twitter @thenerdyteacher.
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