A Critical Pedagogue's Guide: Integrating Critical Maker Culture into the Classroom Maggie Melo // University of Arizona // April 14, 2017

Workshop Objective

Offer strategies to incorporate design-thinking and maker culture into the classroom.

Participants will leave with...

  • Activity and lesson plan ideas
  • Half-baked assignments to develop post workshop
  • Workshop presentation, activity links, lesson materials
  • ...inspiration and enough content to sustain the conversation and energy moving forward!

Workshop Overview

  • Welcome and introductions
  • Maker Culture + critical pedagogy = lesson plans & approaches
  • Lunch
  • Creative collaborations: re-designing lesson plans
  • Re-design share-outs and presentations
  • Next steps and closing

Spaghetti and Marshmallow Challenge

Objective: Build the tallest tower!


  • Marshmallows and spaghetti only
  • Hands-off after 15 minutes
  • Towers must be freestanding

Activity Debrief

  • Outside of the box thinking
  • Communication & collaboration
  • Pivoting and re-framing // failing fast
  • Finding the thresholds and limitations of rules and expectations

About me

  • Ph.D candidate, English (RCTE) & iSpace manager
  • Innovation and rhetoric scholar // locus of inquiry = maker culture
  • "Accidental academic"
  • Maker with expertise a mile-wide and an inch deep

My favorite thing to make?

Project-based learning experiences.

What is maker culture?

Tech extension of the DIY movement.

Began in mid-2000s. O'Reilly Media coined "Maker Culture"

Affordable tech such as Raspberry PI and Arduinos were made available to tinkerers, makers, and consumers

Women Techmakers Tucson Hackathon 2016
iSpace - makerspace at the University of Arizona's Science-Engineering Library

Maker culture and student learning...

So what?

Let's Re-frame. Pivot.

On a post-it, please respond:

"What is a challenge you're facing or have faced in the classroom?"

Photo credit: Jefferson Paine Lecture (Flickr)

What does a maker-centric assignment look like?

How could maker culture be integrated into the classroom? Into curricula?

Making with the (Un)Familiar

Inspired by Designing Your Life

Using the available materials, create an object that falls into one (or more) of the following categories...

  • It's decorative
  • Solves a problem
  • It improves an existing thing or idea
  • It could be used as a teaching aid

Example #1

"Student as Maker: Creating Community Engagement"

  • Course: English 101*
  • Duration: 5 weeks
  • Audience: Community showcase
  • Disruption: Classroom as makerspace; makerspace as classroom
Photos by Aaron K. and Jessica G. // "Duct Dynasty" by Ryan S. // Zombie by Matt C. // Up-cycled Drums by Kevin D.

Example #2

"Keeping it Local: UA Social Media Awareness Campaigns"

  • Course: English 101*
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Audience: Colleagues and, well, the world
  • Disruption: Classroom without boundaries
"Happiness Tree Project" (Top) // "Doorspiration" (Middle) // "News with Benny" (Bottom)

Example #3

"Developing User-Driven Experiences Through Technical Documentation"

  • Course: English 307 (Technical Writing)
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Audience: UA students and Tucson community
  • Disruption: Classroom as escape room and makerspace

What do all projects have in common?

They begin with and build upon students' know-how, knowledges, interests, and/or curiosities.

The Issue with "Innovation"

Innovation isn't only about forecasting the future, it's about erasing the past. Innovation erases histories, knowledges, and know-how. It seeks to (re)present newness.

Lunch Break

Welcome back! Let's get our hands dirty.

Creative Collaborations: Re-Designing Curricula and Lesson Plans

An hour and twenty-five minutes will be dedicated to the re-design collaboration

  1. Break into teams with similar course instructors
  2. Share lesson plans and/or activities you'd like to re-design; feel free to share ones you're also not wanting to change!
  3. Choose one or two lessons, assignments, rubrics to collectively re-design.
  4. Share your redesign with the larger group.

Thank you.

Let's keep the conversations going.

E-mail: marijelmelo@email.arizona.edu // Twitter: @marijel_melo

Created By
Marijel C Melo

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