Maker Journal Entries

Journal Entry #1: The Discovery Phase of Design Thinking

I want to implement maker mindset in my classroom. The challenge is how to go about designing an experience for my students using maker tools and mindsets. I want students to create something that represents and facilitates their learning.  There are many parts that make up this challenge. I need to design a lesson that connects to content, is meaningful and relevant to my students, and use maker tools. I am going to approach this challenge by doing some research to find inspiration. This challenge leaves me wondering. I wonder how I might use maker tools to enhance curricular learning. What resources am I going to have available to me? How am I going to tie this in and integrate across academic areas?

In order to design this experience, I’m going to have to take into consideration the TPACK framework (Mishra, 2009, p.17). I am finding this piece of the puzzle challenging because I already know of maker tools and am wanting to choose my tool before I design the lesson. It is distracting me from focusing on the content I want to teach. It is difficult to repurpose and create something that is novel, effective, and whole (Mishra, 2008). My understanding of making is that students will be engaged through play and exploration.  Students will feel in control and empowered.  They will be in the drivers seat to steer their own learning.

My connections to the maker movement so far are that I have been to Professional Development sessions introducing ideas like Cardboard Day, Innovation Day, and making music with MaKey MaKey. I will be attending Maker Faire Detroit and am excited to see more of what making is all about.  I am curious about what others are making and think that there will be a variety of exciting DIY projects and a vast amount of enthusiasm at Maker Faire Detroit.

Tools that I have explored and tinkered with include MaKey MaKey, Little Bits, Raspberry Pi, Squishy Circuits, Paper Circuits, TinkerCad, and various coding tools. I am most interested in using MaKey MaKey (because it is affordable) and 3d design and printing (as this is a piece of the foreseeable future). When I went for a walk into town in Galway, I was inspired. There I visited a children’s toy shop and everything seemed to be made of wood. Exploring this toy shop got me thinking about children and what kinds of things they may be interested in making, what types of materials they may want to use, and the purpose for the things that they are making.  Revisiting my own Pinterest page has also inspired me to partake in the Maker Movement.  I realized that I had pinned many DIY projects that I hope to make someday.  Of course these are the things that are meaningful and relevant to me, but what is going to be meaningful and relevant to my students?

I do a lot of my thinking in lists. I’ve made a list of memorable things I remember making as a kid, memorable things I’ve made with my students, and a list of ideas of things to make.

Memorable projects I remember making as a kid:

-Great Lakes lighthouse replica that actually lit up

-a wooden bank that looked like a UPS truck

-veggie car for the Veggie Car Derby race

-putt putt golf course in geometry class

Memorable projects I’ve made with my students:

-leprechaun traps

-guitars using recyclables and rubber bands

Things to make:

-something out of wood

-knitting/crocheting creating a business to learn economics

-making a geocaching tour using daqri and tinkercad

  • what lessons can you connect this too? math (measurement), reading (character design), social studies (mapping landmarks: eiffel tower), economics (the price to create, sell, profit, etc.), creating a tool or item that can be used (whistle, stamp, etc)

-making a dress out of Target bags

-making pallet furniture

-making a tshirt quilt

-making a wooden rowboat/kayak (or something mini that floats) pop bottles?

-knot tying

-bleach design shirts


My users this coming school year will be 5th grade students. I need to teach them all subjects. I am going to need to establish a better focus and goal before I proceed, as I have a lot stirring in my mind.  It is clear that I need to continue to do some research before I create an effective maker lesson.


Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Learning and leading with technology.

Mishra, P. (2008). Creativity, the new NEW (Novel, Effective, Whole). YouTube. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from


Journal Entry #2: The Interpretation Phase of Design Thinking

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.54.51 AM

Earlier I mentioned the TPACK framework.  In order to clarify some meaning and give myself some focus, I drew a Venn Diagram of TPACK and filled it in with Maker Movement tech tools, content I need to cover, and pedagogical ideas to notice.  I found meaning in the Maker Movement things I discovered and realized where my gaps are.  I need to know more of the overlapping areas, including the “sweet spot”. How am I going to connect all these things in order to make a creative, engaging, and meaningful lesson for my students so that I can hit the sweet spot?

I think the answer is to narrow my focus.  Am I teaching writing, focusing on documenting, and then choosing my technology?  How might I go about deciding and designing my maker lesson?  My goal is to create actionable tasks for my students.

A theme that came from my discovery phase was 3D design.  I am highly interested in this and I think that it would be something fresh for my students to dive into.  With that in mind, I am thinking that maybe I could have students design a 3D file using TinkerCad.   Then, students can use their files as a part of a 4D design experiences using Daqri.  The 4D experience could link to content of reading, writing, or social studies.  This, I realize is still to broad. I cannot simply just give my students tools, explain how to use them, and then have them create.  What would they create?  Why would they be creating?  What is the point?  Would that be engaging? It is obvious that my maker lesson cannot be this open ended.  However, I feel like I’m getting somewhere and beginning to connect content and technology.

Moving forward,  I need to do more research in the realm of pedagogy and best practices for implementing the maker mindset and 3D design.  How might I integrate 3D design/making into my 5th grade classroom using tinkercad and Daqri 4D studio?  What is the purpose?  Why am I integrating making in the classroom?  When do I fit this into my schedule?


Journal Entry #3: The Ideation Phase of Design Thinking

I had the chance to generate and refine ideas with a few colleagues of mine.  We sat down and helped each other brainstorm and create a mind map surrounding our “How might I” questions.  I realized that my question was a bit too narrow because I already had chosen a specific tool (TinkerCad and Daqri). I changed my brainstorming question.  How might I integrate the maker mindset in my lessons and teaching?  How will my students know what maker tools are available and out there?  How will students not feel overwhelmed, lost, confused?

I found the ideation process to be very powerful.  Discussion and getting feedback from my peers was extremely useful.  It helped me to talk out my thinking because I even realized that I really had a lot of work to do yet.  I was asked what it is that I want my students to learn, know, do, and be?  Right then and there I decided to root my design in content, which refined my question…..How might I integrate the maker mindset in my math lessons and teaching?

The rules and constraints of brainstorming are what constituted a productive experience.  First of all, deferring judgement and the idea that there are no bad ideas was completely my style.  I was able to just spit it all out and get it into a visual representation.  Even if I initially thought an idea was crazy or “bad” it was down on paper, just incase I do end up going back to it.  Building on my peers ideas was meaningful because they may have said something that I didn’t think of. Also, they may have said something that sparked a new idea in my head. Encouraging wild ideas was also empowering because it leaves the opportunity open to refine and make that wild idea feasible and realistic. The fact that I was going for quantity seemed foreign to me.  I’ve always been told “quality over quantity”.  Brainstorming helped me to understand that in order to reach “quality” I needed to have some “quantity” to choose from.

Ideas that I find promising are that I can teach geometry, measurement and data, and fractions through making and 3D design.  3D design tools include 123d design, Thingiverse, and TinkerCad. I became cognizant of why I chose to integrate making with math.  I want to make math fun.  I want my students to love learning and love math.  Math is a subject that is often disliked because it is too hard and students find it irrelevant. Math is one of my passions and I hope to make mathematical learning engaging and meaningful for my students.

Students will design an object of their choice to help them understand place value and operations in base ten.  The benefits I want my lesson to have are that it makes math engaging, fun, and involves deeper mathematical thinking.  If my solution were great it would be meaning based on the content.  My students would ave a deeper understanding of place value, conversations, reading multi digit numbers, and understand millimeter as a fraction of the metric units.  Worst case scenarios that are running through my mind include…..

-A student not being able to design an object because they don’t now what to make

-special ed constraints

-how a students tech literacy is and their ability to navigate a new program/tool

-the math content is too difficult for a student to proceed with designing

-there is no printer available and high printing costs

-there is no access to wifi in the classroom

-everyone making the same thing and lack of creativity

-tech does not work (students can make with cardboard or paper or other low tech materials)

The answers to my questions are still broad.  What are my students learning (which common core standard)? What are they going to make and why are they making it?  However, I walk away from the Ideation process feeling more level headed and driven to the next step, the experimental phase.


Journal Entry #4- The Experimental Phase of Design Thinking


The Challenge- The purpose of this activity is to create an object that Marcel the Shell does not have in his size.   Students will design and create their mini version of a life size object in order to help Marcel solve his problem and provide him with tools that are useful for him in his tiny world.

Students will learn to convert like measurement units within a given measurement system and interpret multiplication as scaling (resizing).

Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

Comparing the size of a product to the size of one factor on the basis of the size of the other factor, without performing the indicated multiplication.

Explaining why multiplying a given number by a fraction greater than 1 results in a product greater than the given number (recognizing multiplication by whole numbers greater than 1 as a familiar case); explaining why multiplying a given number by a fraction less than 1 results in a product smaller than the given number; and relating the principle of fraction equivalence a/b = (n × a)/(n × b) to the effect of multiplying a/b by 1.

This is a good way for my 5th grade students to learn converting and resizing because it will be engaging and it provides opportunity for creativity.  This lesson will be memorable for my students. Students will learn through authentic inquiry that arises as they are making and designing their 3D files.

A step by step guide:
-Introduce students Marcel the Shell video
-My 5th grade students will take a normally life size object that Marcel needs in his size.
-All dimensions of the object will be measured in cm (or meters if the object is particularly large).
-Students will then convert the measurements to mm.
-Next, they will resize the objects converted dimensions to make the object smaller and just the right size for Marcel.
-Students will design and create their mini version of a life size object (using the newly calculated dimensions) with TinkerCad and print it on a 3D printer.

Materials needed:
various life size objects, a measuring tool, pencil, paper, computer, internet, tinkercad, 3D printer

My prototype:

Extension Lesson:
Students will write a story to go with the new mini object that they made and create their own Marcel Video using video making tools.

After receiving feedback from my peers, I learned there are some aspects of my lesson that I can tweak to better scaffold my lesson.  The purpose of my activity was succinct and well taken.  People thought that it would be engaging, meaningful, and fun.  It was clear that my students will learn to convert like measurement units within a given measurement system and interpret multiplication as scaling (resizing) by making a mini version of a normal life size object with TinkerCad.

Some questions that I asked my peers were:
Am I covering too much content?  Will this be engaging and meaningful? Is my extension too much to handle? How can I make 3D design not so daunting and overwhelming for my students?  What would be the best way to scaffold my lesson?  What pedagogical skills can I focus on?  Is this completely irrelevant?  I chose Marcel to incorporate some humor to get my students “hooked”.

Questions that my peers asked me were:
Is this lesson done at the beginning of the school year? Are you planting in prior lessons before getting to this big project to introduce simple tinker cad (3d volume of shapes)? How much time are you going to devote to this? What in this assignment is non negotiable? What is critical and needed that needs to be kept?  Will there be multi tiered lessons (whole unit)? Is this a long term project? How are you going to manage the learning curve? Do kids know who Marcel the Shell is? Is there an intermediary step (make a protype out of play dough before the 3d rendering) using low tech tools? Will students have prior experience to videos or will that be something additional that they are learning? How are we going to exhibit it in the end?

I felt that my questions I raised were answered by the questions my peers raised.  I was able to look back and think about these questions to refine my lesson plan and design.  Things that I am going to change for my next iteration are that I want to use TinkerCad to build prior to this so that the actual learning is focused on the mathematical practice, rather than learning how to use the program.  I think that I could implement a mentoring program with middle school students to ease my 5th graders into the transition to middle school.  Students would be able to share their designs and videos with their mentors.  This adds the element of collaboration.  I think that it would be neat if I collaborated with my colleague, Chonsey Pogue (5th grade teacher, Detroit, MI).  Our classes could both do this project and share with each other what they created.  We can do Google Hangouts or Skype with each other during the design process, as well.  This could be a great experience for our students to connect with other kids who are learning the same thing in a different corner of the world.




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