How can I motivate teachers in my district to introduce making to their students? What are examples of maker learning projects in my subject area? Where can I learn about what making is from someone who is doing it?
As the maker movement continues to expand, more and more educators are asking these questions. One way to address them is by creating opportunities and spaces for educators to come together and share the work they are doing with their students. Over the last few years we have seen a few different forms of community events that have helped to spread and catalyze maker learning in regions across the US.
Here are a few models for how to bring together the educators in your community to grow your local culture of maker learning:
Maker Educator Meetups
Maker Educator Meetups (MEMs) are informal gatherings meant to help build community among educators. The format of MEMs can vary and depend on the needs of your group. Check out Maker Ed’s Maker Educator Meetups Playbook for ideas and tips on how to identify community needs, organize an event, and create a local program. The Maker Promise, a collaborative campaign led by Maker Ed and Digital Promise to bring making experiences to students, offers stipends for educators seeking support for organizing meetups.
Some meetups have a different monthly theme, which helps guide organization and discussion. For example, one October meet-up in the Bay Area was focused on “Hacking Your Space.” Participants were invited to bring examples of how they have modified something to make it more functional, usable, or inviting to the people who make in their spaces.
Edcamps are free, public, professional development opportunities organized by educators, for educators. Edcamps are “un-conferences,” unstructured conferences that leverage the knowledge and experiences of the attendees to drive topics and discussions.
The Maker Promise has partnered with the Edcamp Foundation to bring more making opportunities to educators. All Edcamps can receive materials to facilitate a making activity at their event. The Circuit Arcade is a fun way for educators to experience making by exploring circuitry and is provided free to every Edcamp as part of the Edcamp-in-a-Box. Edcamp organizers who are interested in hosting an entirely maker-focused Edcamp can reach out to the Maker Promise to receive additional support in the form of materials, promotion, and a stipend. Since kicking off this partnership at the first Edcamp: Maker Promise last year, kits have gone out to Edcamps all over the country and the Maker Promise has supported maker-themed Edcamps in California and Ohio.
Digital Promise and Maker Ed also hosted our own maker themed Edcamp this fall. This year’s Edcamp: Maker Promise was hosted as a pre-conference session to the 2018 California STEAM Symposium. With 80 educators in attendance, the day’s sessions ranged from how to build a workbench for your makerspace to discussions around integrating making into English and history classes. A tenet of Edcamp is “Experience, not experts,” meaning that all educators in the room are “professionals worthy of sharing their expertise in a collaborative setting.” Hosting a maker-themed Edcamp empowers both maker learning novices and experts to learn and share from one another.
Regional and National Convenings
Organizing a regional convening or symposium is an opportunity to offer more formal presentations, workshops, discussions, and networking. Collaborate with other local school districts and community organizations to bring together educators from all over your region. For example, the State of Maker Learning in SW PA and Beyond brought together leaders and educators from the Pittsburgh area to understand the regional maker learning landscape in both schools and informal environments, and to support each other in continuing to grow their regional movement to empower all young people through making. .
Want to bring together educators in your community around maker learning? Sign the Maker Promise for resources and support today.