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Learning to Teach in the Digital Age

New Materialities and Maker Paradigms in Schools


Sean Justice

Learning to Teach in the Digital Age tells the story of a group of K–12 teachers as they began to connect with digital making and learning pedagogies. Guiding questions at the heart of this qualitative case study asked how teaching practices engaged with and responded to the maker movement and digital making and learning tools and materials. Over the course of one school year, Sean Justice attended to the ebb and flow of teaching and learning at an independent K–12 girls school the northeastern United States. Teachers and administrators from across grade levels and academic domains participated in interviews and casual conversations, and opened their classrooms to ad hoc observations. In conducting the study, Justice interwove a sociomaterial disposition with new materialism, posthumanism, and new media theory. Methods were inspired by narrative inquiry and actor-network theory. Findings suggested that digital making and learning pedagogies were stabilizing at the school, but not in a linear way. Further, Justice suggests that the teaching practices that most engaged the ethos of twenty-first-century learning enacted a kind of learning we hear about from artists, writers, scientists, and mathematicians when they talk about what innovation feels like, leading to the proposition that a different kind of language is needed to describe the effects of digital materialities on teaching practice.
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Chapter 9. History and Reconceptualized Objects


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· 9 ·


This chapter tells a story about Amanda and her practice. She is the high school history and humanities teacher whose work has been discussed several times in the book. I selected her practice as the focus for this chapter because of the pedagogical moves I observed during observations in her classroom, during interviews, in casual conversations in the hallways, in faculty meetings, and from dozens of other impromptu interactions. To my mind, these moves reprised characteristics of the ethos or new culture of digital making, learning, and knowing as gathered in the framework-assemblage (Table 2), even though she did not use the tools and materials in the FabLabs or makerspaces. As such, she and her practice presented an opportunity to question the question that launched this study: Does learning to teach with the tools and materials in makerspaces and FabLabs change teaching? In this instance, teaching seemed to be changing, but the tools weren’t being used. This paradox invited closer exploration.

As in Chapter 8, the story constructed here follows narrative inquiry methodology that positions the writing process as interwoven with the writing product (Britzman, 1995; Chase, 2011; Richardson, 2000, 2002; Riessman, 2008). To be clear, the following is an interpretative and analytic construct derived from my experience, not a documentary report of phenomena out ← 187 | 188 → there. I recognize that describing the messy, decentered assemblages brought to presence by human and nonhuman actants is...

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