Creating an Innovative Spirit
No longer can schools operate with teaching the three R's (Reading, 'riting & 'rithmetic) without the four C's (Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Communication). For students to be productive citizens in today's competitive global environment, they have to be able to create and innovate. This exploration begins in the primary ages and continues through high school. Constant advances in technology give students more access not only to information but also to tools that allow them to be creators at all levels.
Avonworth has embraced the idea of nurturing the innovative spirit in each child through making, design thinking, and encouraging personal passions and interests. With making in particular, Avonworth has been on the forefront of the maker education movement nationally. Our middle/high school Collaboration Center was one of the first makerspaces found in a school library in the region (2013), and as of the 2015 school-year, we now have makerspaces in all of our school buildings. The concept for making is not new. People have been tinkering and inventing for years, but educators are beginning to see the benefits of making as means for students to think critically in engaging ways. Dr. Gary Stager, national educational leader, defines making this way:
“The shift to "making" represents the perfect storm of
new technological materials, expanded opportunities,
learning through firsthand experience, and the basic
human impulse to create. It offers the potential to make
classrooms more child-centered: relevant and more
sensitive to each child's remarkable capacity for intensity
For Avonworth, making has grown organically, initially
through exposure to making through the Children’s Museum
of Pittsburgh’s Makeshop, an open-ended workshop with
everything from empty toilet paper rolls to battery-powered
circuits. More formal professional development followed for
administrators and teachers, some specifically designed for
Avonworth with the Makeshop staff, and then other teachers
attended the Children’s Museum”s annual Maker Boot Camp
for Teachers. Around that same time, Avonworth Elementary
School participated in a pilot with the Children’s Museum that
provided a Makeshop artist in residence, who would push his materials from classroom to classroom on a cart. Since then, making has grown from supplies on a cart to full-blown makerspaces with everything from screwdrivers to 3-D printers and laser cutters.
Teachers on all levels have begun to incorporate making activities within their classes to support project-based learning activities, and outside of school experiences have developed as well.
Articles & Research on Innovation in Education:
Articles and Research on Making: