Writing as Making/Making as Writing

When we think of the current Maker Movement, we often picture robotics, crafts, or digital fabrication. What happens when we push ourselves to think about writing, media-making, and the arts too?

About The Speaker(s)

Elyse Eidman-Aadahl is Director of National Programs & Site Development at the National Writing Project. She designs and facilitates inquiry networks for practitioners focused on the teaching of writing, digital literacy, and youth development.

Nichole Pinkard is co-founder of the Digital Youth Network, co-founder of YOUmedia at the Chicago Public Library and a leading thinker in how people are learning with digital media. She is also a Visiting Associate Professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University in Chicago.

Bud Hunt is an instructional technologist with the St. Vrain Valley School District and a teacher consultant with the Colorado State University Writing Project. He works with teachers to help them think critically and carefully about the way technology influences teaching and learning.

Andrew Sliwinsky is co-founder, Product Chief, and CTO at DIY.org: an online community for kids to share what they do, learn new skills and meet others with the same interests. Andrew is a hacker, a maker, and a self-described "integrated human."

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Resources

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Key Questions and Comments

  • (03:59) If you put that sense of the young person as the productive agent at the center of your teaching practice, what does that mean for the way you think about teaching and learning?
  • (06:58) Like the DIY and Maker movement right now, I think we share a couple important alignments. And one is this notion that we need to focus on creating and not just consuming, and I think that cuts across the maker community and the writing and media-maker community.
  • (11:03) What I think is really important about 'making, and hacking and playing' is these are essential habits in writing, too. A lot of the work in STEM involves making, and hacking and playing...we're really trying to figure out how we promote these habits across domains/structures/schools. And, for us, writing is a very big component of that.
  • (13:45) People talk a lot about Maker culture and Makerspaces having "low floors and high ceilings". "Low floors" in the sense that you can get into them pretty easily (low barrier of entry). "high ceilings": you can take what you're working on, even from an amateur level, to a really wonderful, professional and deep level.
  • (16:31) You can start to think of yourself as a writer; and then, gosh darn it, you can go write. There's an identity shift that you might go through...no one has to tell you you're a writer, no one has to bless you as a writer, you can just start writing--you can develop an identity.
  • (21:54) Why is it useful to connect writing to the DIY/Maker movement?...Is there something about our times or today's generation that it's important to connect those two?
  • (24:59) When you create environments, particularly within academic settings, where kids are starting to connotate things like traditional STEM skills and writing with "work" (something they're obligated to do)...if you can provide a meaningful context for writing and STEM skills, all of a sudden, these things just take on a life of their own.
  • (27:37) When we think of the media movement, I think a lot of what we've seen about youth wanting to develop their proficiency and skill set in creating media has to do with audience...in the Maker movement, how much is it about creating for an audience? Or is it about creating for self?
  • (30:16) If you can provide a safe space where a kid can feel enabled to completely geek out about the things they're passionate about--no matter how esoteric they may be--and then provide them a way to communicate their identity...those two pieces can fit together. They'll want to communicate out because they want to share their identity.
  • (31:30) I think it's important to think about two types of making & writing that goes on in a Makerspace, because they lend themselves to different audiences. There's the product--the thing that I'm going to make...but there's also all the process writing--the note-taking, the remembering...your audience in that process is often just you...It seems to me that writing is hidden on the process side of making, and I want to bring that out.
  • (34:58) I think lots of people in writing and media-making would talk about how hard it is to teach and work with revision. But that's actually where a lot of the learning to write happens...and you need to have a kind of competence and capacity to continue through that process. And, little by little, as you grow your skills, learn to do that more effectively.
  • (37:54) There's a tremendous amount of power and a tremendous amount of community building that can happen around sharing all of the process of work. I think that's a really interesting thing to try to bring to education...thinking of revision not as 'you made a mistake,' but as a part of life.
  • (41:20) In order to reach certain types of audience or certain types of performance spaces...that product has been iterated on so many times and reached a level of quality. By making the acts of sharing and learning from each other's work and being open to feedback from mentors who you respect...I think you create this endless ecosystem.
  • (46:14) A lot of that sociality [on DIY.org], while it is monitored by DIY staff...we try to give kids a really long leash and allow them to form these social interactions and little subcultures...we really see it as our job to allow kids to form these subcultures and feel incredibly comfortable and empowered to be themselves.
  • (49:17) When you write in a classic assessment moment (let's say a short-answer test), you see how absolutely distorted that writing situation is. You're a person who knows less about your subject than the assessor...you're writing quickly...you're encouraged not to get too involved in your topic...you're going to write something for someone who's going to look at the ways you fail to achieve the ideal piece...and that is such an unnatural reading and writing situation.
  • (51:01) The studio environment, the notion of making something for the world--that's a great tradition in writing that we have to fight for...every minute that pushes that out of the classrooms robs some young people...the opportunity to experience the authority that an author has in writing.
  • (53:41) Zooming out, how do these ideas of writing and making inhabit some of the thinking and principles of connected learning?

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Image used with permission from The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers