Making Stuff Matters

I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of making alongside my students. As a teacher, I’ve always had the intention to create models for my students, to make sure that I’ve already done everything I’m asking them to do. However, I know my best intentions sometimes get lost in the daily shuffle of grading papers and connecting with parents and building relationships. The Compose Our World Design Institute in early August reminded me that making stuff really matters.

We kicked off the fourth year of Compose Our World by asking our team of teachers to make models of remixes that they could use to drive their students’ thinking during our first project. In the Remix Our World project, students become Remix Artists, tasked with remixing a text in order to promote a message they feel is important. The teachers on our team this year took on this role and realized that creating a text with a meaningful message is a complex task. We celebrated as teachers offered one another feedback and went through the process of revision to craft remixed texts that were meaningful to them and would connect with their students. I was so amazed at the ways that this group is willing to take risks and explore new ways to approach their classrooms through this work.

Watching this process reminded me that students aren’t the only ones who have the opportunity to create things that matter. If we want to enjoy the process of teaching, then we should give ourselves the freedom to experiment and make cool stuff, not just because it will help our students learn, but because making things means that we are also learning. We are excited to see the ways that our COW teachers take on the tasks and roles that they’re asking their students to embrace. We know that students are benefitting from the challenges these teachers are embracing.

When we want students to produce in complex and thoughtful ways, it helps if we as teachers are willing to do so, too.

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