The Maker Movement is the newest “it” thing in education, and often are driven by the technology adopters. One of the biggest complaints I have seen is that teachers feel that they can’t Make with their students because it doesn’t address Common Core Standards. I would like to counter that with this post. I think the Maker Movement has a place in education, and that it can address Common Core Math and ELA standards, if structured in the right way. First, let’s examine some of the Math standards:
Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They analyze givens, constraints, relationships, and goals. They make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary. ...Mathematically proficient students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, "Does this make sense?" They can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.
Depending on how you structure your Maker activities, you can easily address this math standard by posing problems for your students to solve utilizing the materials available. This one seems like a no-brainer.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Mathematically proficient students understand and use stated assumptions, definitions, and previously established results in constructing arguments. They make conjectures and build a logical progression of statements to explore the truth of their conjectures. They are able to analyze situations by breaking them into cases, and can recognize and use counterexamples. They justify their conclusions, communicate them to others, and respond to the arguments of others. They reason inductively about data, making plausible arguments that take into account the context from which the data arose. Mathematically proficient students are also able to compare the effectiveness of two plausible arguments, distinguish correct logic or reasoning from that which is flawed, and—if there is a flaw in an argument—explain what it is ... Students at all grades can listen or read the arguments of others, decide whether they make sense, and ask useful questions to clarify or improve the arguments.
To better meet this standard, you can ask students to reflect on what they have created, and defend to classmates why their solution is the best one to solve the problem (see also, addressing ELA standards below). Have then critique the approach and solutions of others in the class.
CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4 Model with mathematics.
Mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. In early grades, this might be as simple as writing an addition equation to describe a situation. In middle grades, a student might apply proportional reasoning to plan a school event or analyze a problem in the community. By high school, a student might use geometry to solve a design problem or use a function to describe how one quantity of interest depends on another. Mathematically proficient students who can apply what they know are comfortable making assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions. They routinely interpret their mathematical results in the context of the situation and reflect on whether the results make sense, possibly improving the model if it has not served its purpose.
Here is where I think Maker Spaces fit most in the mathematics standards, giving students real life problems to solve (which also ties in the MP1 above). Give them something real to solve, ask them to examine their solution for flaws, and revise as necessary. They can use charts, spreadsheets and diagrams in building and testing their solution.
One really simple ways to combine math and the Maker Movement are to have student redesign spaces: your classroom, the library, the cafeteria, a courtyard, the playground etc. They will have to use math skills to measure the spaces and objects they currently contain, and make reasonable judgements about what they would like them to contain.
Here are a few technology tools I think fit in to the Maker Movement:
Google Sketch Up - Make allows students to create vivid virtual 3D models of objects. This can be used in the initial stages of the project to plan, or can be the end product of what students are creating. And if you have a 3D printer, students can print 3D models of their work.
Blender is a free, open source product that also allows users to create and animate 3D objects, and allows you to create video games or short animated films.
How else could the Maker Movement fit with the Common Core? Have students communicate about the experience and their projects. They can create presentations, write blog posts, or create videos to address ELA standards for writing.
Common Core Anchor Standards for ELA
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Have students explain the process they went through when Making. How did they reason through the problem? What solution did they come up with? How does their solution address the problem?
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
What were the steps involved? How did they arrive at their solution?
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Ask students to examine their writing to be sure it makes sense and communicates their ideas effectively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
Be sure to have students revise their work before posting.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
Here is where the fun part comes. Give your students a global space to share what they have created. Create a class blog, wiki or website to share student projects and their analysis and explanations. Or, have students work together in shared planning spaces to solve the problems you present. (See Cut to the Core: Tech Solutions for Common Core - Start the Year off right with a Global Audience for tools to accomplish these goals)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Having your students experience Making and write about it gives them something fresh and exciting to do. It is a new task, a new purpose, and a new audience for your classroom.
I see the Maker Movement as a powerful way to build problems solving and communication skills with students, and most certainly, it fits with the Common Core Standards. The Standards are not meant to be a prescribed curriculum, they are meant to be a set of standards that students can meet at the end of each year. How they meet them is up to you to decide.
How do you see the Common Core Standards and the Maker Movement aligning? What other technology tools are available for the Maker Movement?