A reflection on constructing my understanding of constructionism and setting up my makerspace

I’ve been a tinkerer and a maker all my life so I was literally counting down the days to this course!  I remember my grandparents and parents always making, building, creating, and tinkering; growing up in a small island community, this was just our normal way of life.  The idea of community and educational makerspaces is incredibly appealing to me because I love working on projects with others and being inspired by tools and materials available to solve a problem, making something, or to complete a challenge.  The idea of robotics, however, is much more intimidating; exciting, but still intimidating!

I had started reading about constructionism last semester in the Online Learning and Teaching course, this week as I started looking for more resources, I realized there is more information about constructivism as opposed to constructionism.  Reading other blogs this week, @ScottRoleff‘s summary of Papert’s 8 Big Ideas helped me formulate a definition and understanding about what makes constructionism an expansion of constructivism.  @OrtizJad4est referenced an Edutopia article written by our text author, @smartinez, and something she wrote really crystalized what we’ve been writing about this week, “Constructionism empowers learners to connect with everything they know, feel, and wonder, stretching themselves into learning new things. It seeks to liberate learners from their dependency on being taught.”  That’s a big deal for schools and teachers to adopt, to admit that we’ve been enabling students to be dependent learners.  I’ve been thinking this week about what new theories like constructionism mean for an individual teacher; when school districts adopt policies and pedagogies, it is important that they restructure the school environment to support the transition and capacity for teachers to learn and implement these new concepts.  I think Constructionism challenges schools to rethink how they organize the physical environment of learning as well as the culture that exists for students AND teachers.  Several of my peers have shared their anxiety in waiting to find out which grades or classes they will be teaching next school year; the uncertainty can be disruptive for a teacher who has invested time and resources in building a repertoire of tools, strategies, and resources.  @ak_agryga wrote about the importance of being part of a peer learning community.  I think if the trend of shuffling teachers continues, it will be increasingly important for teachers to have a supportive community outside of their own school, so that they can continue to stay connected to a broader community of educators to help them make these difficult transitions.

So as I am starting to understand Constructionism, I am looking forward to our virtual Makerspace through Google Hangouts.   I spent some time this weekend, setting up my workspace and rearranging my personal makerspace.  @ak_leeg‘s video on opening up her robotics kit made me a bit anxious about multi-tasking in a Google hangout, trying to figure out the robotics kit, and making a video or taking pictures of my work along the way.  This is going to be an interesting experience, that is guaranteed to have some bloopers as I try to figure it all out!

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

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