I have to confess that I’ve been procrastinating Thing 22 as it seemed a really tricky one to implement in my classroom. I was first introduced to the idea by Zeina Chalich at the K-12 Digital Classroom Practice conference in Melbourne last year, and it seemed cool. From my very first week of teaching here, I noticed that boys LOVE to fiddle with things (and soon learned not to give them ANYTHING until I wanted them to do something with it, as it would get transformed/broken/destroyed). However I haven’t really been sure how to implement more practical creativity in my classroom, especially given the time constraints of teaching in the secondary environment.

Of all the suggested digital Makerspace options, Minecraft seems to have the most value for my students and my subject – I can take those creative competencies and use them to make the ancient world come alive. I blogged last year about using Minecraft with my junior Latin students, and I’m keen to build on this (ha! Punny…) in 2017 too. 

I wanted to share a really simple exercise I did with my new junior students today as my nod to the hands-on makerspace. This idea was adapted from a blog post by Jon Bergmann (I think this is my first authentic, entirely Twitter-inspired idea that has been six months in the making!). Instead of going over the course outline, my expectations and all that other exciting stuff in my very first lesson, today I spent most of my classes doing a creative challenge to get the students working with their new classmates, then gave them a one-page handout (created in Piktochart, one of my new loves) with a link to their iTunes U courses. That holds all the boring but necessary information they need about the first day of school, so they can have a look at that at home instead of going through yet another course outline in class.

My Year 9 classes had to create something that came to mind when thinking about Latin/Ancient Rome. Most did swords, soldiers, gladiators and Julius Caesar, but there were a few Roman numerals and artworks happening – and it was a great way to assess prior knowledge! I was very impressed that they knew of SPQR (but only as a restaurant in Ponsonby). 

My Year 10 class created prototypes for tools which would lead to success in Latin. Although I didn’t get pictures, these were fantastic: I had a robot to sit at the back of the class and watch for gamers, a translation headset and even a shock collar for teachers to use to discipline or focus students. If only! I really enjoyed doing this as a beginning of year activity; it was a really nice icebreaker alternative and a good chance for me to wander round and talk to the students in small groups, rather than standing at the front going over a piece of paper. It also helped me to get a sense of who the real characters are going to be this year. Hopefully their first lesson was a memorable one and I was able to stand out from all their other teachers!

Have you used the Makerspace concept in a more traditional environment? I’d love to get some more ideas!