Tag Archives: constructionism

Invent to Learn: A Book Review of Sorts

Airplanes are great places to get some serious reading done.  The forced sitting, no access to the internet, no television…make perfect conditions for finishing that book I’ve been wanting to get back to!

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager is a book I’ve been wanting to read since I first heard about it last summer.  I started it a while back and got about half way through it before my overflowing to-do list pushed it back behind a pile too high to see over.  And okay, I admit, I did sneak a bit of “junk food” novel reading in there too!

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Anyway, I got back to Invent to Learn last week and remembered all the reasons I wanted to read this book.  One of the things I appreciate most about this book is the  theoretical foundation it lays down at the beginning.  I like the historical context of the Maker Movement and seeing where my own beliefs and learning experiences fit into it.  I also like the way that it extends making to include building with cardboard and other “old school” examples but also makes a case for including computers and digital technologies as well as electronics, circuitry, movie making and more.

In lots of ways this book confirms practices I already value and reminds me that messiness and time are essential elements of the learning process–not indicators of failure.

But, in spite of all my interest and good intentions to include a makerspace in my classroom, I haven’t gotten there yet.  We have done making and worked to help our students experience and understand iterative processes.  They have “made” with paper, with fabric and thread, and with digital programming.

So what are my obstacles?  Time is the big one.  I’m still figuring out how to balance the demands of curriculum, traditional learning expectations, and the value of making within the school day.

So I’m trying to be patient with baby steps, carving out small but consistent opportunities for making (of all types).

I encourage you to read Invent to Learn–definitely the first half–to think about why making and tinkering and engineering are such valuable practices for the classroom.  And then I would love to know more about how you will implement some version of making in your classroom. What works for you?