I was recently invited to participate in the Brooklyn Storymakers Maker Party organized by the Brooklyn Public Library and Hive NYC Learning Network. At the event, kids had the opportunity to create online comics, design video games, make stop-motion animation and many other activities designed to unlock their creative potential.
Organizations who ran activities include Brooklyn Public Library, Hive NYC, Coder Dojo NYC, Iridescent Learning, Institute of Play, New York Hall of Science, Eyebeam and others. I was there, along with Cynthia Jabar, to represent Inanimate Alice. This event was a part of Mozilla Maker Party – one of hundreds of events around the world where people become active makers of the world around them.
Cynthia and I created an activity directly related to the Common Core State Standards and their emphasis on critical thinking, creativity and 21st-century skills. We worked with kids who read episode one of Inanimate Alice and used that as inspiration to create a character who would be sending her a postcard to her current location of China. Using the Mozilla Webmaker tool, Thimble, kids remixed postcards using digital media and the web. The tool allowed the children to remix their favorite digital postcards by modifying HTML and CSS right in their browser. Instantly, they were able to see the results of their work. Their postcards were written as a #25wordstory, a process of writing created by Kevin Hodgson, that lent itself well to our activity. The kids creativity was awesome and they were proud to share it with others through social media. Many left excited to read further episodes of Inanimate Alice as well as excited about trying out other Mozilla tools such as Popcorn Maker and X-Ray Goggles.
Some of the student creations can be found here:
This ‘Maker Movement’ is one that all educators need to embrace. In a recent piece written by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, they pointed out what lessons educators need to embrace in light of this movement. They include:
- Doing” is what matters.
- Give it a go.
- Iterative design.
- Aesthetics matter.
- Mentoring defies ageism.
- Learning is intensely personal.
- It IS about the technology.
Oftentimes I have written in my own pieces about the power of transmedia practices in education and the power of user-generated content in creating engaging learning experiences for all students. In relation to this, Dr. Christy Dena shares the guidelines she’s created to open the door to this form of education in a recent piece she wrote for ABC Splash. The affordances of new media allows for the opportunity to create a ‘maker culture’ in our schools like never before.