Makerspace as motivation

Just as my juniors are building relationships using a breakout game, my sophomores deserve more than the typical sit and get day one. Last year, I had them create origami boxes. This year, I’m leaning towards just the lids. They are the most challenging part of the box, and challenge, plus six word memoirs, should present them with an opportunity to practice grit and growth mindset.

Here’s a link to how to make the boxes, if you want to try it out yourself.

Instead of me standing up and explaining what to do, students will begin in one of four stations. The stations are:

  1. Origami box lid
  2. Six word memoir
  3. Six word memoir
  4. Origami box lid

Day one is only 28 minutes long, so I want them to have time to finish the lid and the memoir. Each station will have directions and models of what I want them to make. My goal is for them to create a box lid, glue in their memoir, and write their names on the back of the box lid. This way, I get to know them, but they do not have to overshare on day one. I plan to create the word YET on my wall, using the box lids.

If you’d like to try six word memoirs, below are some linked suggestions:

After an interlude of essay writing to show what they know from their summer reading assignment, Ready Player One from Ernest Cline on Day 2, we’ll move on to something I’m really excited about: personal motivation posters.

On Day 3, we’re back in makerspace.

After spending some time perusing examples of excellent motivational design, students will photograph each other and create their poster, using a quote that inspires them and their image. I’ll print these and mount them on black cardstock on my very white front wall, right under the word “community.” I can use this activity to get to know their names as well as allow them to get to know each other.

“A logo for MaKey Makey: Alphabet soup” by jayahimsa is shared under a CC by 2.0 license.


Using makerspace to break the tyranny of now

The piece of cardstock seemed to mock me. I felt my tension headache crushing my temples. All around me, everyone was happily folding away, making these elegant boxes, and yet here I was, with the lid still not formed. And when my neighbor, a quiet young mother from Saudi Arabia, leaned over and said, “Look, you just tuck it this way,” I gritted my teeth and declared, “I’m just not good at crafts.” That’s when I realized, I was “gripped in the tyranny of now,” as Carol Dweck describes in the below TEDTalk:

You see, although in the past I had always patted myself on the back for having a growth mindset, by believing that something difficult was out of my reach because I wasn’t good at it meant that I had a fixed mindset about making objects with my hands. So I set out to change. I accepted the power of yet. I wasn’t good at making origami boxes, yet.

For the first day of class, I plan to share this story with my students and invited them to feel the power of yet. We’ll be listening and discussing the above talk, as well as beginning the process of our own origami boxes. By making an object with our hands and minds, we will struggle together.

As an interesting aside, another teacher and I got in a passionate discussion about the difference between I can’t do this and I don’t want to do this. While it is true that I really didn’t want to make crafts in my composition theory class this summer, in part because at the time I couldn’t figure out the purpose of such tasks, I realize now that there is a deep connection between feeling one can’t do something and not wanting to do it at all. Embrace the struggle!

Image attributed to