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BTW was created by Patrick & Julie Johnson, two Canadian educators with an interest in eduction & technology. This site showcases our interactive IBOOKS for students, but we also explore educational issues in our INQUIRY segments and share lessons/teaching ideas in our TEACHING TOOLS sections. Use the Labels section in the sidebar to navigate by topic or simply browse.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

UPDATE on our INQURY PROJECT: Digital Collaboration Using Maker Cycles in the Classsroom #clmaker

If you look through the two previous posts, you'll see how our Maker Cycle project has grown from 'just an idea' into a full fledged teaching plan spanning  a full year and several time zones!

Now that it is September, the plan is starting to roll out...

To quickly summarize, this is the project: 

Students from different classes (grade 6 to high school) will connect digitally through the process of creating digital/media based maker projects which are centred on a similar theme. 

Themes cycle through the year

Some classes will participate in specific cycles, other will connect the whole year through

Students will place their maker creations on a digital portfolio, which can be viewed by others on the internet

Also, some students will be placed in 'digital learning hubs'

In these learning hubs, students from the different classes act as makers of content, but also as an 'audience' for each another, providing commentary on each others works (within a structured format) on the digital portfolios.


We've tried to strike a balance between structure/freedom to create. We felt that students needed some guidance in the realm of constructive feedback to others, for instance. But students will have lots of choice within the realm of maker creation.

If you'd like to follow along, on Twitter this project will have the hashtag #clmaker.

Also, here is the schedule of maker cycles with tentative due dates:


  1. A Personal Introduction (Using Google Slides, if you choose) (part 1) & (Due Oct 1)
  2. Group Name/Design a Group Badge Using Google Docs to communicate (part 2) (Due Nov 2) *collaborative across learning hubs
  3. A travel piece (Due Dec 1)
  4. Environmental Issues (Due Feb 1)
  5. Social Justice Issues (historical or present day) (March 1)
  6. Poetry/Lyrics (Due April 1)
  7. Completely Open! Do Anything! (Due May 1)

Maker Cycle #2 is a digitally collaborative piece between classes. We've tried to solve the problem of 'different time zones and conflicting class schedules' by using google docs to communicate between students.

It will definitely be interesting to see how this project addresses our inquiry questions, such as:

  • Can maker projects align to curriculum goals?
  • Can maker projects be assessed?
  • Does having a digital audience of specific peers improve student engagement?
  • Does having a digital audience of specific peers encourage students to apply their skills more effectively than when just creating work for their teacher?
  • How do I create authentic learning spaces of making and reflecting that empower self-directed learning?

There are also logistic issues to work through: how much tech is available, how comfortable are the students with tech, how comfortable are the students with the freedom to create, which tech apps or sites work best for the project ...etc.

This will definitely be a learning curve for us all!

I will definitely be posting here through the year to reflect on the process. So stay tuned!

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