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The Test is Life

By Michelle Carlson 6 months ago8 Comments

What is school for?  To some, this might seem like a rhetorical question, but if you take a moment to think very deeply about it, it might not be as easy to answer as you’d think.  We are thankfully leaving behind an era that focused an enormous amount of resources and energy on testing.  School was about the test.

There is a test, and it’s a big one.  The real test is life.  

When we teach, every single moment that we spend with kids is a moment we are investing in their futures.  For some, a moment can change everything.  The way we teach is just as important, it’s so much more than just having students in seats.  We need to teach in ways that make them want to be there.   Enter the Maker Movement.

We are now a couple of months into a new program at Maywood Middle School – an elective class where making of all kinds is the subject.  Students entered the class with clear reservations about what it would be.  We told them it was going to be different, that it was going to be amazing.  Their faces revealed their thoughts loud and clear: “prove it.”

They are learning in the makerspace.  Not just how to have fun and use their imaginations, but how to help each other, how to overcome challenges, how to speak up (even in front of an audience) and most importantly, how to love learning.  And yes, they’re also learning math, language arts, science, technology, engineering, and so on.

Making helps us connect with the content that most closely resembles life, which is the greatest and most challenging test of all.

You don’t need a full-blown makerspace to make this happen.  A cabinet with some supplies, and the desire to incorporate experiential learning into your work is plenty.  Let students experience the content you’re teaching, let them use their hands as well as their minds to create and explore the topics you are required to teach.

In the makerspace, we hear kids say things like, “I don’t want to leave this class.” and “I wish all school was like this.”  

My dream, my passion is to create a system where hearing things like this from all students is the norm.  I hope you will join me.

I’ll leave you with a video we created recently for Maywood – Let the kids who have been inspired by making inspire you.

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  • Dave Sweringen says:

    On the way home last night my boys were talking about how much the kids are enjoying Makerspace at Maywood and how they wish they would have taken it instead of Leadership. I know there is a positive buzz going around the school that is student led. Students want to have these experiences and will eat it up as more have access to making. I also enjoyed your blog on asking permission.

    • Michelle Carlson says:

      Thank you for all the support you’ve given to this program Dave! The changes we’ve seen in the kids out there have been so very inspiring! It would be wonderful to expand the reach of this class next year so more kids can participate! 🙂

  • Matthew Russell says:

    Michelle, you are making a big difference in so many lives. Thank you for all your work for children

    • Michelle Carlson says:

      Thank you Matt, your support and encouragement means the world to me! It’s very exciting to be in a position to impact so many more kids and systems now. The sky’s the limit! 🙂

  • Jonna Turek says:

    Powerful post, Michelle.

  • Noelle McCammond says:

    I know exactly how the kids feel because I never want to leave Makerspace either! What a great video! Thank you Michelle!

    • Michelle Carlson says:

      Thank YOU! Your time and expertise has been invaluable to the success of this program! 🙂 You inspire me!

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