If you’re into creativity and always on the lookout for ways to inspire, motivate and engage your students it’s hard not to be impressed by Maker Education. For me personally, it represents what education should really be about – embracing all people’s skills and talents, respect everyone’s individuality and helping students realize their full potential. It feels as if someone created a tangible reality of what I often felt was a dream and I truly hope that Maker Edu could at some point be introduced and realized -at least to a certain extent- in most Greek schools.
There are so many resources you can find online on Maker Education, but here are just a few links to get you started
And for me the first video that changed it all:
I realize that in the world of ELT, Maker Education does have lots of applications, it might require though a drastic change of facilities or space available in order to accommodate students’ different interests. What I would like to focus on though is the principles of Maker Education and how we could apply them to our teaching without necessarily moving into Makerspaces yet, especially if our schools can’t yet adapt to them.
Some baby steps we can all take though are the following:
- Talent Days – Open Days: We all start new classes with back-to-school activities such as “All about me” posters or “Getting to know you” bingos. Along with these, we can have an Open Day or a Talents Day where students share their hobbies/interests and talk about which aspect of their hobbies (music, architecture, engineering etc) they would like to focus more in their learning. This can help us have a clearer view of how we can organize extra activities related to their main interests.
- Bring students to the spotlight: Apart from encouraging our students to share what they have learned, I feel it’s high time they showed us what they already know. Most teaching revolves around giving students some control over how much they influence the teaching process, but I think we need to understand that our kids are already teachers of their passions. What I’ve tried to do is include “Become a Master – A useful guide” sessions where students share their tips and advice on how their classmates can master the skills they already posses. In case you find such activities/sessions time-consuming, you could always ask them to create Mini-Tutor videos and set up your own Youtube class channel where they can share their pieces of wisdom.
- Look around you: Start with what we already have at our disposal and give choice. Most ELT schools don’t necessarily have the facilities or space to accommodate Makerspaces, yet almost all schools have computer labs and we all have access to stationery. We can start with projects that involve the use of computers or projects that are -literally- hands-on and make use of materials that we can easily have access to like paper, construction paper, tubes, tape etc.
- Give choice and differentiate homework: Starting with small-scale change, the first step to go about it is to differentiate homework and a) group your students according to their interests and ask them to create a project on what you’re currently teaching or b) give different homework options that they can choose from. For example, two years ago we worked with my class on a text regarding the Terracotta Army in China. The History team had to find more information regarding the reign of Emperor Qin, the Geography team had to look into the area where the statues were found, the Art Team was asked to find more information on the material and techniques used to build the sculptures etc.
- Field trips + workshops: I know field trips can’t be done on a regular basis, but I think students would benefit a great deal from combining field trips with workshops in the places you visit. I think that if you prepare these early on in the school year, you will realize they are a more feasible option than you might think!
These are just some first thoughts/ideas/suggestions on what I hope will inspire and influence more of my teaching moments in class this year!