Monday, July 10, 2017

MakerCamp Day 1: Basket Weaving Myth Debunked

So today was the first day of Middle School STEM Camp The Magic of Making.  We are basically running some MakerCamp activities.  I love MakerCamp stuff, if you have never looked at it check it out (

We first put our button machines to the test and made some buttons aka name tags.  It's a great way to get them drawing at first and then giving them a chance to talk without running an icebreaker.

Over the weekend my colleague (Ms. Are) and I saw the basket weaving on the MakerCamp website.  We loved the up-cycle idea of the newspaper and thought it's basket weaving we can do this with the girls.  I love that we both just watched the video, found the instructions, and just handed it over to the mostly 7th and 8th graders this morning.  They too tackled with gusto.  We thought it would take about 90 minutes.  Well we both should remember to double that.  Three hours later we got two baskets done.

Basket weaving is challenging. I will never ever use the basketweaving 101 joke ever again.  It takes thought and work to get it right.  They really had to problem solve and read the directions to get the basket right.  They had to take it apart and start again when it wasn't working.  They had to ask for help and get help from others.  They had to take deep breaths and start again.  They had to deal with the unexpected.  None of us thought that the corners in the beginning would be the middle of the sides at the end.

There was some frustration with the weaving and how to weave especially with the corners and how to get the basket to look right.  They struggled, we struggled, but together we got it done.

I plan on using this in my study skills class this fall.  I am going to try to reduce the number of strips to 6 on both sides (that's my homework this week).  Then I want to ask some questions to them to think about:

  • How easy was it to make the basket?
  • What challenges did you face with making the basket?
  • Why?
  • What did you do when you got stuck?
  • Did you finish your basket?
    • Why or why not?
  • How accomplished do you feel?
I am hoping to have the discussion about how when learning something new there are challenges with it.  It seems foreign, you have to go back reread instructions, watch videos again, ask for help when needed, sometimes taking it from people you might not normally think that they would have the answers (peers who are working with you).  You have to redo things, and that might mean starting from scratch.  Finally the results might not be what you envisioned or look exactly like the example, but it is your work.  It might not be the perfect basket the first time around, but if you keep practicing you would bet better.  

All of this can be used in any classroom while learning.  Basketweaving is a great way to show them how learning takes time, and needed attention.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let the Blog exchange begin!

One of my colleagues, a History Teacher, has decided to have her students learn how to blog with another school in Baltimore, Md, they found each other through twitter.  What is awesome about this not only the history that students are learning but the authentic use of technology.  As students are writing we begin to discuss voice and tone of the blog and understanding how writing it is important to use words that convey the tone.  It is not like a face to face conversation where you can have inflection in the discussion.  This gives them a chance to deepen their own conversations about the topics since they will be looking at others blogs commenting and replying to comments on their own writing.  The blog is academic as they are writing about history, but gives them a chance to understand how to write to audience vs. just what the teacher wants.    I am excited about this blog and can not wait to read their posts. 

We have decided to use blogger since we are a GAFE school it was easy to set up.  They found it easy to make changes they needed and everyone was set up within an hour.  They have just started writing about the first prompt now, so some don't have anything published yet, but if you want to check them out visit US History with Dr. B!