The Maker movement has inspired teachers to explore interesting new tools and materials like robots, 3D printing, e-textiles, etc. However, its focus on digital fabrication, hands-on craftsmanship, and programming seem perfect for STEAM, and not feasible for English Language Teaching. ELT teachers wonder how they can integrate STEAM principles into their teaching reality and why they should do that.
Making something of value is thrilling and exciting, and maker activities in English schools can build problem solving skills, promote opportunities for meaningful exchange of information, and genuinely motivate students to use the target language to convey meaning. English language teachers have always used hands-on activities, but now we might do it interdisciplinary and focus on tasks that motivate learners to take the role of producers of shareable content and learning artifacts.
Last week, I co-presented a mini-course called Make it in the Classroom, and I asked Paola Hanna, a teacher at Casa Thomas Jefferson, to share some of her insights with the audience. She had a verb tense spinning wheel, and she used it as a model for students to make a learning artifact to learn collocations. Watch the following video for an overview of what happened and hear what Paola’s take on this task is.