Maker Academy

The Maker Academy was a suite of professional learning programs and micro-credentials for classroom teachers, learning specialists, and leaders that want to learn how to establish Making as a powerful philosophy, pedagogy, and practice in their classrooms, schools or institutions. It used school-based research and development with specific examples of integrations in all subjects and divisions. Read More

Type: Education

Findings & Impacts Cards

Discussing a vast amount of research with participants that have not read it before is difficult. However, there is an inherent need for new educators to dig into and make sense of research findings in order to understand the reasons for incorporating constructionist or maker education pedagogical practices. The Finding & Impacts cards is a solution to enable educators of varying backgrounds and curricular programs to relate research findings to their practice as well as meaningfully discuss and re-organize them into patterns or groupings. Read More.

Type: Education

Maker Minds Program

The Maker Minds Program was created as an equitable program to provide students from low income public schools or affordable private schools with Constructionist learning opportunities. It aimed to support students in developing 21st century skills, conceptual understanding, and the ability to self-direct to find their own answers through creative learning projects. Read More

Type: Education

CodEd: Teaching Coding in the Classroom

From Silicon Valley to Bangalore, Computer Science drives innovation all around the globe. Programming is becoming an essential literacy that helps students understand, access and construct their increasingly digital world. This book provides information on what is required to design an engaging programming classroom for students of all ages. In CodEd, readers will learn about:

• Core concepts of programming and their relevance
• A continuum of programming concepts and skills with assessment methods that can be used to plan individualized programming instruction
• Strategies for differentiating programming instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners
• A Programming prototype at ASB that can be adopted or adapted to support students to learn programming at any school.

Amazon Link

Purpose

While the amount of computer science offerings in schools has grown over the years, a secondary course in programming is still niche. Usually, that course would still be a traditional course, focused on learning a programming language (usually Java) and rarely including the applications of this language.

What would an inclusive computer science classroom that appealed to non-traditional students and focused on building interest in coding through fun and creative projects look like? This was a question that drove my work at the American School of Bombay in developing the curriculum for the Creative Coding course.

This book supports the argument that teaching coding more playfully using creative projects like algorithmic art, games, simulations, and stories increases the appeal for computer science. The book provides teaching strategies that support an inclusive, idea-exploring classroom environment and tools for differentiating students of mixed-ability. It culminates in an analysis of the Creative Coding course we created, demonstrating the strategies we used with real students in a mixed-age, mixed-ability computer science classroom. Lastly, the book makes the case and provides tools for building a systemic approach to computer science education so that students have opportunities to love code from Elementary to High School.

Type: Education

Maker Minds

If you are seeking to equip, engage, and empower students to learn through Making, Maker Minds is for you. This book will support you to build & sustain a Maker culture and Maker practices that meet your students’ needs to learn through making. Based on their work at Re.D Studio (the Research and Development department at The American School of Bombay), the authors of Maker Minds share insights, practices, and resources that have been developed at our school. You can take the insights, practices, and resources and use them to build Maker minds in your context.

Amazon Link

Purpose

This book was co-authored with our team at the American School of Bombay and documents the methods, experiences, and structures we created to build a culture around Making. The book spans the work we did K-12 and explores how we developed maker experiences at different skill levels across a multitude of formal/informal programs. There is a sense of progression that is visible in the book showing our journey from inspiration to implementation.

At the time of publication, there were very few resources written from a formal education context for Maker and Constructionist Educators to learn from. In addition to documenting our journey, this book was written with the purpose of equipping educators interested in using this type of pedagogy in their classrooms.

Type: Education

The Maker Saturday Prototype

This chapter was published in Future Forwards: Volume 6

Three years ago on a Saturday morning, we held our inaugural Maker Saturday. The tables in the High School Gymnasium held ten of the first maker activities that the Re.D Studio had ever run. Activities included constructing with cardboard, creating circuits that lit LEDs, using MaKey MaKeys with Scratch programming, and Lego robots. At each station, parents and children worked together in making musical instruments, electronic dollhouses, and light-up tiaras among other creations. That was three years ago. We didn’t know at the time that Maker Saturday would be one of the most visibly impactful prototypes we’ve run or how the impacts would shape ASB’s Community Maker Culture…continue reading

Type: Education

Creative Coding: A Prototype Course in the High School

This chapter was published in Future Forwards: Vol 5.

Programming is an essential skill. Learning to program can support and empower learners to succeed in school and pursue their aspirations. Programming develops skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and structured planning through the experience of creating something using lines of code. In addition to cultivating these important life skills, programming assists in demystifying technology, allowing the learner to make sense of how computers and electronics work in the world around them. As we move into an era of enchanted objects, wearable technology, and the internet of things, learning programming is a vital life skill…continue reading.

Type: Education, General Programming

Maker Challenges in the High School

This chapter was published in Future Forwards: Vol 5

In the High School, we use Maker Challenges to create different contexts for learners to learn through making. The three types of challenges we use are Tinkering Challenges, Making Challenges, and Solution-Based Challenges. Tinkering Challenges provide students with materials, tools, and prompts that serve as cues for students to start exploring through tinkering with the materials and tools. Making Challenges provide students with materials, tools, and a challenge statement that labels the criteria. Solutions-Based Challenges provide students with materials, tools, and a challenge to solve a real-world problem through making. The Challenges range from 30 minute competitions to 2 hour making sessions, to multiple class periods…continue reading

Type: Education

Exploring Compassion through Kind Words

What does compassion look like and how do we explore it in authentic, meaningful ways? This question led me towards developing a lesson with my Grade 8 advisory group in which we used the video game Kind Words as a vehicle for demonstrating kindness to others. At this point in the trimester, we had been exploring the topic of compassion using curriculum created by the SEE Learning program. Students understood what compassion was through collaboratively defining the term and identifying acts of compassion through scenarios. As a finale to our compassion unit, we explored using Kind Words to write kind letters to real people.

 

What is Kind Words?

Kind Words is a game about writing kind letters to strangers on the internet. While that sentence might arise concerns about child safety, the community on Kind Words is generally friendly and willing to offer advice. In addition, the game takes many precautions in warning its players to not share personally identifying information and instituting a one-way mode of communication. Players can cycle through letter requests written by other players until they fine one they’re interested in constructing a reply to. Upon choosing the letter request, the player is created with a digital paper on which they can craft a letter to the requesting player. As an added bonus, you can include stickers and as you play, your collection of stickers grows as other players gift you their delightful decals.

 

The Least Favorite Friend

After scrolling through a list of letter requests, that I had prescreened to ensure there was nothing I wouldn’t want my students seeing, we arrive upon a request from a player asking for help opening up to their friends group.

“Why do I always end up being the least favourite friend out of all of my friend groups? Also, I wish I could open up to them about my insecurities but I’ve only ever memed around so it’s hard to suddenly be serious.”

We now had to construct a response as an advisory group. As we discussed how to respond, I made sure to ask follow-up questions to have students contribute more detail and facilitated discussions around powerful ideas around relationships. “I would just tell him to leave this friend group because if your friends don’t see you as the favorite, you can just find another friend group who will.” one student stated. This turned our discussion towards value.

How do the friends in our lives add (or remove) value through our relationship with them? We spoke about the need for friendships to feel like they are a “two-way” relationship in which each person takes turns contributing value to the other through celebration, sharing, collaboration, and giving feedback. Good friendships require a value add on both ends the majority of the time and it’s ok if a friend subtracts value as long as they apologize and try to do better. 

“I think they should just tell their friend group how they feel and see how they respond.” another student contributed. “But that’s so scary!” responded a more introverted student. This turned our discussion towards strategies for making difficult discussions less scary. We discussed the solution of writing letters or text messages, recognizing the appeal but also noting that those can be shown to others which might be embarrassing. The choice everyone agreed was probably the best one in this situation was to identify the friend in the friend group that this person was the closest to then open up to that person. 

The consensus we finished the letter with was that communication is the most important aspect of friendships and relationships. Whether you are scared or not, having a conversation in the least intimidating way is the only productive path to resolving conflicts between people. At the end of the day, if the person doesn’t listen to you, they are probably not the type of person you are looking to be friends with because friends care about and value you as a person.

 

 

COMPASSION IS WEAKNESS!

One of the other students in the class felt that compassion was a sign of weakness because you open yourself up to people manipulating and taking advantage of you. Our group discussion shifted to vulnerability and how without it, you may succeed in keeping yourself safe but risk missing out on positive experiences as well. We decided to use this topic as a letter request:

“I have a student in my class that believes that compassion and trust are weakness. What do you think”

Within 10-15 minutes we had three responses from other players. Each response offered a unique perspective into how compassion and trust make you stronger as a person. The final letter we received was the most well received because the writer told us about how they used to thought this way in middle school and now regret it later in life. My students were amazed that someone would share their lived experience and that it actually aligned with their current age group! (They were also super excited to receive the cat face sticker.)

This lesson was pretty impactful and brought out a lot of interesting conversations that might have been difficult to discuss while doing a normal classroom activity. The discussion and perspectives shared were higher in quality because we were authentically constructing a response to help a real live person based on our experiences. I’ve always felt that video games were excellent teaching tools.

Type: Education, News