Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Maker Fair Fun in the Social Studies Classroom

By Nina Kendall

The Maker philosophy is to apply a do-it-yourself approach to learning in the modern classroom. Students are empowered to make, to tinker, and to create. This approach appeals to me as an educator and as a child of the 1980’s. Not only do I want to make things, so do kids. This is a great way to encourage creativity in the classroom.  Frequently maker spaces and activities involve 3-D printers and Lego robots.   Yet the maker movement is bigger than robots. This approach to learning can certainly be brought into the Social Studies classroom too.

Here is what I did to bring a maker event to my classroom:

·         Investigated the #maker approach with Mozilla and looked for way that this approach could be brought in to class for learners at all levels of digital experience.

·         Selected the tools for use in the activity.

·         Selected the content students could share their understanding of that day.

·         Created a PowerPoint slide for each activity that included tool, product goal, and content.

·         I saved the slides as jpeg files(photos).

·         I created a basic website that had links to web tools that students could use and a photo slide show of the activities.

·         I created a form to hand to each student that would indicate the activity they choose, the type of activity completed, and the method of electronic turn the students used. (Students could email project, turn in on ThreeRing, save to their drives, or upload to Edmodo. )

Maker Event in Class:

·         Give students each a copy of the form to report their efforts on.

·         Direct students to #maker website and let them know that what they choose to make is there choice.

·         Monitor progress  and collect sheets at the end of session.

·         Enjoy what students share!


·         Shifting technology infrastructure. Be aware of the limitations of your digital environment.

·         Students struggling with digital tools. They are not all digital natives. Some students are also very insecure with activities that don’t have exact responses.

·         Time. As in every activity some students needed more time than others.


We had a good day. Students were highly engaged and very creative. I liked the focus students displayed.  It was good to see them work together so positively. It was also nice to share in their efforts. In high school, the days students want to share their work with you are rare. I would certainly do this again. 

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