Below is a fantastic definition from makerspace.com of what makerspaces are for a community.
To describe them simply, makerspaces are community centers with tools. Makerspaces combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling community members to design, prototype and create manufactured works that wouldn’t be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone. These spaces can take the form of loosely-organized individuals sharing space and tools, for-profit companies, non-profit corporations, organizations affiliated with or hosted within schools, universities or libraries, and more. All are united in the purpose of providing access to equipment, community, and education, and all are unique in exactly how they are arranged to fit the purposes of the community they serve.
I teach in a makerspace environment; the only adjustment I need to make is to allow students to come in and use the shop time for their own ideas. I can see clubs and organizations utilizing the equipment. I would love to encourage young women especially to get involved in makerspace in the industrial art's shop; since that has been a recent struggle I have heard amongst educators.
Ultimately it is a place where students can come to be creative. They have no restictions, no guidelines, just what the phsycologists would call "social play". I think that this would also lead to another goal of mine which is collaboration with other content areas. Once we get the students involved they will be compelled to use it in other classes as well.
I asked this question during an interview with a technology education teacher. What does the school set up for you or suggest for professional development (PD)? I was astounded when he said "it is all on you". The only PD that they require is usually general topics, nothing specific to content areas.
I admit that I use a lot of videos from you tube when I have a question in regards to welding or if I am stumped on some automotive problem. I usually reference my books, but YouTube will have a video of someone with the same exact problem I am facing. I see technology as a fantastic way to reach cognitive equilibrium. I have linked in some of my most favorite but probably not sanctioned avenues of PD.
The last may seem a little bit odd or maybe people don't recognize it as technolgy; I still regard books as my number one source of information. Further I will list what I envision professional development for myself.
I plan on obtaining a certification in welding after I finish my M.S. in education. As continuing education over the next ten years I would like to earn a degree in machining or machine technology. Automation is the future of manufacturing, but with out a good back ground in machining the common job will be a machine operator not an actual machinist.
Problem Based Learning (PBL)
This topic was very foreign to me. I had never heard of PBL until this blog. So what is it? Can I use it in my classroom? Often times some of the teaching strategies either don't fit into a technology classroom or just are not in my teaching style. However, with a little time and persuasion I can see a need. They are great ways to switch up the classroom and keeps things fresh for the students. No one likes excessive redundancy.
PBL is not new to me, it is just a name that I have never heard or used before. Basically, PBL is shop class, or technology education as they like to call it today. It has been the traditional content area where students are faced with very real problems in which they can apply skills and knowledge while reaching perfomance standards. Such as the 4c's. If you don't know what the 4 c's are go back and read some of my previous posts.
Here is a project that I found online for PBL and technology education.
Flipped Instruction Model (FIM)
Flipped instruction is beneficial practice, as long as it is not done to often and it is done to a high level. During some of my field experience the teacher would often have a worksheet or online project to be completed before the next class period. If there was time they were allowed to finish in class. I was amazed at how the students got right to work collaborated and just asked questions when they got "stuck".
I would need to find the most common sticking point in my classes that is where I see the most benefit. Since I will be teaching a content area that incorporates active learning; I will need as much time as possible for individual instruction and mentor-ship as possible. One of the most beneficial areas that I would use FIM for would be welding, let me explain, It is an individual task that is as much like art as anything that I can imagine.
There are fine motor skills and a "feel" for what is right. To model instruction for students they must all be wearing a mask or shield. As an instructor I must do the same thing, which covers my face and mutes my instruction, not to mention the sound of the "buzzbox". It is sensory overload for students. I have learned some great tips in welding from YouTube videos and personal experience. I take notes and then go and try it in my garage. I do the same thing when I am stuck with an automotive or small engine that I cannot diagnose correctly. I enjoy it and usually try to problem solve myself, but once that has been exhausted their I am filthy, dripping sweat over cell phone watching a video of someone solving my very specific problem. It is an AH-HAH moment waiting at your fingertips.
Here is a short film about FIM.
The death of Industrial Technology in education.
OK, maybe we aren't dead, but we are on our way to extinction. I have even been told not to refer to myself as a shop teacher, because I am limiting myself. I see it not as limiting, rather something I take pride in. I love to work with my hands and more importantly teach with them.
I have noticed that the skills that I assume necessary for technology education are much different now than when I was in school. At first this scared me because I enjoy the type of old-school traditional TechEd classes such as metal, woods, and auto shop. Now classes tend to be robotics, drafting or computer aided manufacturing. What is changing?
I see the need for this type of schooling, but I don't want to neglect the students that are like me and really enjoyed welding, wood working and fixing my own car; all things that I still do on a daily basis. For many of my high-school classmates it provides a satisfying and well paying career. Where am I going with all this? We need to satisfy the needs of students that will enter a vocational career and those students who will enter college to pursue engineering, technology and other careers.
The only way to satisfy all of these needs is to collaborate between content areas. I attest that technology education should lead the way by incorporating as much of other areas as possible. Typically our classes have the least amount of standards and standardized testing and is the easiest to incorporate with subjects such as mathematics and the sciences. I have researched and read articles for other classes and spoke with current TechEd teachers. They all point towards the fact that other content areas "don't have time" to collaborate.
It is my opinion that teachers don't want to volunteer themselves for anymore work [I don't blame them]. That's fine, just give me your lesson plans and I will sculpt my curriculum to match yours. I am willing to take on that responsibility. Give it a chance, the only negative may be a little more communication between content areas maybe a weekly meeting or even just emails. Please help me save my job!
"Shop class is dead and so are the potential trades people that would be born out of that early exposure to a tool or machine."-Forbes Magazine
Michael S. current educator and former paratrooper
Books in my backpack..