At the start of the Changemaker journey, Matt found it unacceptable that some students aren’t given access to quality education using the best 21st Century practice, and that some staff feel unable to deliver digital design and technologies. The reality is that across Australia, only 1 in 10 teachers have recently engaging in professional development about 21st Century skills and general capabilities.
Matt believes in a school where students are at the centre of their learning and they are given the support and access to resources to maximise their potential and outcomes through inquiry learning, and he set about to try to make that a lived experience for students at his school in Tasmania.
Matt developed the ‘makeME Studio’, which engages students and provides an alternative learning environment at lunchtime and during lessons. It is a dedicated space in his school where students can access a range of activities and resources to establish a project through “Genius Hour” or simply develop their 21st Century transferrable skills. The name for the makeME studio came about through a combination of the ‘My Education’ initiative and the Makerspace movement. It enables students to develop the General Capabilities and develop 21st century skills in an inter-disciplinary environment.
Students learn to:
- pursue their own passions and become self-directed learners
- problem solve, to iterate, to take risks, to see failure as opportunity, and to make the most out of unexpected outcomes
- build on each other’s’ strengths and interests, to persist in difficult tasks, and to be confident of their capacity to learn new things.
A typical weekly timetable:
- Monday – sewME (a sewing studio)
- Tuesday – codeME (a coding, robotics and LEGO studio)
- Wednesday – Chess Club / LEGO Club
- Thursday – makeME (Genius Hour and passion projects)
- Friday – mendME (an opportunity for students, staff and parents to bring in their broken things and Matt and the kids fix them together)
In the first 2 weeks, 52 students had accessed the makeME studio, with an average of 10 students participating in the studio every day.
One other staff member at Matt’s school has now started ‘Dream Academy’ where four community members work with Grade 1 and 2 students, sharing their career narratives and providing access to activities like cooking, woodwork, coding and art.
Three students at Matt’s school have submitted their Genius Project ideas to the ‘Little Big Ideas’ competition. One designed a medical wristband which serves as an early warning sign for diabetes, another has designed sensor bins which only open with the correct type of recycling or waste. The third student came up with the idea of ‘edible sticky tape’, this idea was selected as a top 12 finalist from over 1000 submissions, Australia-wide.
Like the idea?
Matt would love your support for makeME, or for you to start a similar program in your school, and he’d love to hear about any ideas you have or lend a hand where he can. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch with Matt and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer him on in the comments below as well.
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