Even more creativity in the classroom


At the recent TESL Toronto’s T4T mini conference at York University, I was inspired to take 4C integration into my instruction to a new level.  Specifically, I was spurred on by James Papple and Tabitha Lewis’s session called Connections to Learning through Makerspaces. They provided a myriad of potential activities that extend and enhance learning beyond what is expected in a language learning class.  Tabitha and Jim highlighted resources that are available through the Brock University’s Makerspace room.

Makerspaces Technologies

In Brock’s Makerspace, learning opportunities include tools to create high quality audio, shoot and edit digital video, create and edit images, print 3D models, create moving LEGO structures, scan objects into digital 3D models, cut materials with lasers, interact with virtual reality, record video against a green screen, control a Sphere ball with a smartphone app, build robots, paint 3D objects, and more. 

Language Learning?

Ok, I can feel you reaching for the mouse to jump to another website as you mutter, “What does this have to do with language learning?”  I agree that language and settlement instructors already have a great deal on their plates and that there is not enough time to integrate additional technologies into their classes.  However, some of you may want to inject more into your lessons, and the makerspace concept could be a viable way to accomplish this goal.

Over the past few years, I have been endeavoring to integrate the 4Cs into my classroom instruction.  The four Cs are strategies to enhance learning in the classroom and these include communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. The 4Cs apply to all genres of education.   I feel that I have given extra value to my students if I have integrated any combination of these into my lessons. 

I have a digital breadcrumbs trail of some of these attempts through previous blog posts including:

Student Infographics, students created infographics on different topics

Yes, you can! Making Virtual Tours, students generated virtual tours of their favourite place

Teach writing with a web Design Project, students constructed a mobile-friendly website

Data-driven learning with WordSift, students investigated language with a basic concordance

Revisiting WebQuests, students created WebQuests to present to their peers

With tools available online, in libraries and now at makerspaces, I will be moving forward to challenge my students even more to be involved in tasks that involve collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.  Overall, the possibilities are much more motivating than the ones I have used in the past as they involve creating and manipulating physical objects.

Final Thoughts

If you have used makerspaces or similar technologies, please share in the comments section below. It might be a good idea to ask your librarian about the availability of makerspace or creative technologies.  I am looking forward to seeing what my students can create next term and beyond.

Referenced Resources

Hi—I'm John Allan. I am an educator who works in the technology enhanced language learning field. I create online learning opportunities and mentor instructors on the Avenue project. I have experience teaching ESL and EFL in Canada and the Middle East. I hold an MSC in Computer Assisted Language learning, a M.Ed. in Distance Education, TESL B. Ed., a B.Ed. (OCT), and a variety of TESL relevant certifications from TESL Canada, TESL Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Education. For more articles, learning objects, projects and blog links see https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnharoldallan


7 thoughts on “Even more creativity in the classroom”

  1. MakerSpaces are great opportunities for students to practice language learning. If your school has access to a 3D printer and scanner, the possibilities for creation are nearly limitless!

  2. Jim, checking out a few institutions I have found that the positioning of the MakerSpaces hardware and consumables (ink, printable plastic, batteries, …) is extremely important. If instructors and students cannot have access to these, a Makerspace is nothing more that a showroom to entertain visitors. 🙁 I am happy to report that the The Brock MakerSpace is welcoming, vibrant and open to support innovation and learning. Thanks for introducing me to this concept. (And Tabitha as well)

    1. You are welcome, thanks for the kind words. I am looking forward to integrating these kinds of tools into my instruction when we return to regular classes.

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