tinker with text
Literacy-Based Maker Education
A few nights ago, I took part in a Twitter chat. Another participant posted a photo of a class project to show her learning around literacy instructional strategies. There were books everywhere, engaged and smiling children, anchor charts that students had created, small group instruction, and flexible seating. And this was only what was visible from a single photograph!
It was the words that she added though that caused me to sit up, take notice, and respond. She wrote, “Sorry that my classroom is such a mess.” Why would such a hard-working, involved teacher feel the need to apologize? My response was “Real learning IS messy!”
However, I must admit that I had similar feelings just before Spring Break. I looked around my room and sighed. After seven months of teacher inquiry into literacy-based makerspace, my room was a mess (to my standards) and I still wondered if I was heading in the right direction. It reminded me of an image I’ve seen on social media with two drawings side-by-side. The first drawing is a straight arrow at an angle with an upwards trajectory and the caption states “What I planned.” The second is a tangled squiggle and the caption states “What happened.” This really captures how I was feeling about my teaching and learning this year.
But then as I was cleaning up, I really started noticing. The items that I put away or recycled brought back memories.
Here was the faded green paper chain that was Jack’s beanstalk and I began reading the words on it. The kids had written plot details, character descriptions, questions, and key words on each link. I remembered them talking and smiling while making it as well as planning how and where to put it up.
I put away the graphic novels and fractured fairy tales back in the book bins; and I thought about how that opened an interest into a new genre for one boy in particular.
I picked the sticky tack off the CDs and markers. I’d forgotten about their spinbot doodle art and poems. That seems so long ago. I just saw the mess that still had to be cleaned up. Making spinbots and doodlebots was our first foray into tinkering with text and it gave us a ton of inquiry questions to add to our wonder wall.
I began this blog experimenting with different frameworks. First, I wanted to investigate the intersection of literacy and makerspace. Then I saw it as more of an infinity loop. Further iterations produced a model which showed it as a weaving, and a teacher in my Twitter PLN asked if it might be likened to a bridge.
None of these early models ever proposed that it would be linear and progressing in one direction. So why would I expect that of myself only seven months into it? Why would I question it when all my qualitative and quantitative data showed that the children had learned? Why doubt it simply because my room doesn’t always look like a Pinterest photograph? Nonsense!
REAL learning is messy!
Vicki Den Ouden is an Elementary Reading Intervention Teacher from BC, Canada. She loves to dream, learn, teach, and create.