Task Reflections

What is Maker Ed? Forums Knowledge Building Task Reflections

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • Author
  • #552

    As you start to involve your class(es) in your exploration of maker ed, it would be great if you would share what you have been up to with the community.

    Some possible prompts to help your reflection:
    What made you choose this task/resource?
    How did you adapt it?
    How did you go about implementing it in your class? How did you introduce it?
    What were the reactions and experiences of your students?
    Did this prove to be useful/effective in your classroom?
    Would you do it again? Why or why not?
    Did you experience any hindrances or hesitations when implementing the task in your classroom? What, if any, were some roadblocks or challenges you faced?
    What are your reflections as a Maker Educator? Did that teach you anything about your teaching, help you attain some of your own goals?

    Thanks for sharing!

    The Maker Ed Team


    In attempting to “wade deeper” into MakerEd, it has helped me to consider how I can frame a “hands-on learning” activity as a MakerEd Challenge.

    Recently, we were discussing democracy in Ancient Athens and I asked myself, “How can I make this more engaging?” My thoughts… build something. We had already discussed some topics related to Ancient Athenian society, such as Greek myths and daily life; some students had researched food, the Olympics, and war and warfare. In an attempt to connect the learning to modern day democracy, I started to think about the ways in which the Ancient Athenians impacted our lives today. In exploring warfare, I realized that use of the trebuchet (a form of catapult) was created and used by the Greeks and this changed the stage for ranged warfare. A MakerEd Challenge was born.

    Although a loose connection, I introduced the concept to my students, explained the history, showed a video of a trebuchet in action and gave the parameters for the task (cannot be secured to the ground/table, can only use a range of materials provided, two challenges: longest projection and most accurate, time limit).

    Students built, had a chance to complete a preliminary shot and view others’ projects and then complete iteration of their design. Our final test was a lot of fun and the conversation that followed was the most valuable part.

    This was a definite win and it really wasn’t that hard to organize or lead! AND NOTHING HORRIBLE HAPPENED! My students were engaged the WHOLE time and had great conversation afterward regarding challenges, problem-solving strategies etc. I would probably attempt this challenge again. I may not show the videos first, but maybe halfway through the challenge, as I felt many students “copied” the design shown. We also provided spoons for the challenge, which made a natural catapult cup… Next time I might not provide these, as I felt this stifled the creativity of the task.

    The roadblock or challenge that I experienced was 1) students not participating, despite encouragement from the rest of the group and 2) really bossy, overbearing students that took charge of the challenge. I’m not sure how to navigate this? I obviously considered the combination of students on each team. Would assigning roles help? Options to complete the task individually?



    How great that you were able to link curriculum to a social studies class and hit a bunch of competency outcomes while you were at it! What a great project, and your design to allow for iteration allowed students to persevere and find success, even if encountering difficulty.

    The roadblocks you mention regarding some students are definitely real concerns when working on group projects. You mention a few ways you could differentiate for students such as allowing them to work alone, or assigning roles.

    Another idea might be to engage your class in some design thinking about mindsets and interaction. I’m sure you do a TON of character building with your students, but by using a set of norms that are revisited during this type of work throughout the school year, some of these challenges might start to subside if students practice their group work protocols.

    Thank you so much for sharing and your willingness to try something new with your class. Your reflection about what your next iteration might be is inspiring!

    -The Maker Ed Team


    Hi ALlison,

    I love the challenge presented to your class and your reflections on what to change next time.

    I completely agree with over bearing students who can take over tasks like this. My suggestion would be for them to complete it individually but at times walk away from their work to “gallery walk” around what the others are doing to gain ideas. This would be an eyes-only task but students would greatly benefit from the creativity of others and how to apply some of the light-bulb moments to their own design.

    I’ve noticed, too, that a model or exemplar is best revealed further on during the design phase as students latch onto that rather than think critically and creatively on their own.

    Also just FYI: the grade 6 classes at my school hold a Greek Day. Students are put into small groups across the three grade 6 classes and they research a part of Ancient Greek Civilizations: warfare, food, fashion, language, money, etc. They dress in togas, order greek food, and the other grades come into to ask questions to the various groups/displays. Its a really fun time for everyone!

    My best,




    Your idea of a gallery walk is a great one because students need to be exposed to many different ideas so that they don’t get too attached to the first iteration of their design.

    Earlier this year, I had grade 8 students design complex machines capable of producing a work of art, and in order to promote crazy innovative ideas, I had students individually come up with two separate drawings before moving on to the group collaborative phase. Once in the group phase, the notion was not to pick the best idea, but to try and combine some elements from each group members’ sketches. I had to scaffold a mini-lesson on how to be assertive in a group, and showed my students the Creative Confidence IDEO video (http://www.designkit.org/mindsets) in order to get them to understand that everyone’s contribution is valuable.

    Once each group had completed a draft collaborative design, it was then peer assessed before moving on to the construction phase of the project. Through the multiple iterations and eyes on the project, students gained a better understanding of working within the constraints set while also keeping an eye on the prize which was that the art piece needed to be something unique and appealing. Though it took a number of classes to work through this process, the construction phase took much less time than I had anticipated because the students knew what they needed to build and totally understood why it was so important to test their prototype and iterate based on the art that was produced.

    There is no right way to have students work through ideation, but exposing them to different/divergent ideas is definitely an important theme!

    -The Maker Ed Team


    I like how the reflection is focusing on how to make the task more relevant to students so that they get something out of it beyond just performing the task. I recently encountered this with my grade 7 math students. This is only my second year of teaching grade 7 math, but when I was considering geometry, I was wondering how to make angle and line construction into something more than just practice sheets, and decided to have the students create an art piece from it. I’m not sure that this actually falls into the idea of maker ed, but the students seemed to catch on rapidly, and will have something that can then be a discussion piece for further exploration. I chose this task because I am also an art teacher, and there are many artists that work with geometry to create interesting images, and there are also many mathematicians that work through the arts to build better understanding of their work. This was a teacher-led project, as students had not experienced this type of construction before, and many of them had also not used compasses before. My students reacted well to the project, and their designs were fairly diverse. They are still currently working on their projects, and are quite enthusiastic about how they are going to finish them.It has proven useful in that some students who usually do not practice their skills actually did practice this one. I am still considering if this is a reflection of their interest in the task, or if it is just and area that they would have been excited about otherwise. I would do this task again, and perhaps start with having it a bit more open at the beginning- letting students explore the materials first to become familiar with them, and provide them with multiple methods for constructing the lines and angles. (I have actually started my G5 class using protractors as a result of my experiences with my 7’s). My hindrances and challenges lie with my own insecurities in maker ed. To be honest, I worry that what I am doing does not provide the students the opportunity to explore things in depth and develop their metacognitive abilities.

    Regarding other’s reflections:
    I also use the gallery walk quite frequently with my art students, so that the student learning does not happen in isolation, but is inspired by all the work that is happening around them.
    In regards to the Greek Day, I also think the aspect of students teaching each other and younger students about different things is a great way to engage peer learning opportunities.



    Leah, thanks for sharing your reflection. It sounds like you are on your way to building maker principles into your geometry project. If you aren’t quite at an expert level of confidence, consider some of the theory pieces listed on this site as grounding principles you can use to test your designs. For example, in your next iteration of the geometry project (very STEAM-y by the way), one thing you could consider in your design is using the design principles described on the “going for a swim” theory page as a place to start. This project might also be designed using the Kindergarten way of thinking model described by Resnick (wading in theory page).

    A huge part of Maker Ed and design is iteration, sometimes things won’t work out the way you hope, but these are learning opportunities, and a commitment to reflection and iteration is a sure way to move forward as well as build personal confidence. As mentioned on your goal page, finding a collaborative partner in some of your endeavors, whether this is just someone to bounce ideas off of, or someone to design with, is another way to start. If you have a math team, share your ideas with them. Perhaps they will be on board to help you with the next form of this design. As you mention, student learning doesn’t happen in isolation, teacher growth and learning doesn’t need to happen in isolation either.

    Looking forward to any further thoughts you might have!

    The Maker Ed Team

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.