Saturday, October 15, 2016

Supporting student dialogue in our online community of makers

The Intersections Charlotte project brought together students and teachers from different area schools with Educators from Discovery Place to engage in student-driven make-based work at  each
of the respective sites. The Making STEAM Google+ community was born out of the necessity to to keep all parties connected through the entire process. It was a place for students to post not just their finished makes, but also work in progress, reflections, and responses to the ideas of others. It was a place for sharing, for conversation, and for inspiration.

While students were familiar with operating in social networks in their own lives, there was a bit of a learning curve (for both students and teachers) in discovering how to make this site work in a way that both invited students ownership and and rich feedback on student work. Hitting the +1 button or leaving a comment like “good job” doesn’t give the maker much insight into how his or her production worked in the mind of of the person who was viewing it. This sort of feedback required students to have some specific ways of responding that were open-ended, promoted a conversation, and developed scientific habits of mind that are cultivated through conversation and iteration.

As much as making isn’t a fill-in-the blank sort of venture, having some frames for students to refer back to when responding helped to get them feeling what it was like to see their comments as an important part of a conversation.

Here is a slide Steve used in his class during time set aside for reading and responding to the work in the community:

Below is a a post made by Levar showing a stop motion video he created inspired by the Hunger Games, but taking place in a setting he made from cardboard character that were repurposed army figurines:

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The post elicited 19 comments where viewers and LeVar exchanged ideas. Here is a piece of that conversation:
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In this conversation that includes students, LeVar’s teacher Steve, and Robert from Discovery place, the feedback posed prompted LeVar to clarify and even provided ideas for future interactions. It all worked to bring in other people as thinking partners and keep LeVar moving forward in his own process.

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