Well, this leg of the Maker Project has reached an end. Not to say the movement has ended, or an interest in creating and sharing learning experiences, just the portion of this particular project that can be examined at this point in time.
The idea of repurposing was rather difficult for me to wrap my brain around. Being introduced to the kits, which were really already maker products in themselves, only brought my attention to the tool itself and the concept of electricity, particularly with Squishy Circuits. I chose that kit based on the connection of electricity being a unit that is covered at ASFM in fourth grade. So, I focused on how to work Squishy Circuits into our curriculum. After playing with the kit, with the content/scientific assistance from 091 Labs, I was still mulling over how the implementation of the kits may fit into our curriculum. I shared the project idea with a fellow teacher, looking for some guidance, and she helped me arrive at a different perspective. Since the idea of the maker movement is to repurpose what you already have, using the Squishy Circuits for electrical purposes did not meet the criteria of the movement. Lovely. So, how to take something that has already been remade (play dough circuits) and use them in a non-electrical manner. Even with this reminder and new angle, I was still having trouble getting out of the electrical realm.
I decided to let it go for a little while, hoping to clear my mind of the project and that returning to it later may help. Luckily it did. I was walking downtown and ran into some guys singing on the street. They were having a great time and definitely had a sense of camaraderie. I filmed a bit of them, thinking I would share it with my family to show them some of my experience in Galway. I had lunch with a colleague from ASFM immediately after seeing the musicians, and of course a portion of our discussion centered around school. Our conversation led into considering feedback from others, when finally, something came to mind for this makers project. I had received parental feedback regarding the sense of community in my classroom. Could I create a form of community- maybe even resembling that of the men singing in the street? I knew play dough and promoting creativity definitely went together, and creating a sense of togetherness from the circuits was beginning to form in my mind. This is what led to the idea of creating classroom mascots from the Squishy Circuits. Take a look at the video representation of this evolving learning and thought process.
What was most interesting when reflecting back on the entire process, was how I was rather forcing just one section of my PNL to work for me, as opposed to paying attention to all of the resources available. I had searched YouTube videos, Facebook pages, and websites for implementing the circuits into my project. But other pieces of my PLN, fellow teachers and students, were right here in Galway and without even knowing the full picture of this project, were able to help. It seemed natural to me that my first step would be using the internet. Just Google my question and arrive at an answer. And while the internet network helped with content, the human network was what really enabled me to make the project personal and keep aligned with the mission of the movement.
Looking back at the visual for my PLN, it encourages me to look to that image in the future, as a reminder of the amount of support I have with different projects. If one area of the network is not useful, I may use another section, and if that doesn’t work, try another. This thought also provides me with the ambition to continue to build this network, as I definitely do not want to arrive at a point some day where I have looked to every resource in my network and not locate the assistance I need. Being a student again, and reflecting on myself as a learner, encourages me to provide my students with time for reflection, and time for being aware of their own learning network.