Global MakerDay – An Interview with Jaime Donally

How do you inspire your students? For Jaime Donallyan Instructional Technologist Coordinator in Texas, that question is at the heart of her career in education. Jaime is one of the of the most inspirational educators that we have had the pleasure of working with. Her motivation to change education and cultivate student achievement, rather than measure a student's success based on grades, has led Jaime to launching Global MakerDay. Global MakerDay, on May 17th, 2016, is about celebrating student creativity, innovation, diversity, and individuality. Check out her interview below and get inspired to join her mission!
 

What does a Makerspace mean to you?

A makerspace is, of course, about providing students with a creative and innovative environment in which they can explore their passions and interests. However, I think that it goes deeper than that. Every student is different; each student is packed with different hobbies, interests, learning styles, home cultures, etc. To me, it’s vital that our makerspaces reflect this diversity. Students should be building their own spaces; spaces for themselves and others. Students should lead students, and what would be better than having students design their own learning environments?! It should be up to the learners to deem what is appropriate for them and what isn’t.

Do you have a favorite Maker challenge?

Oh, who can choose just one? There are so many brilliant activities and challenges, and I think that really speaks to the movement itself. But I do have one makerspace story that I’d like to share. For me, everything I do should involve some element of fun, and I believe students feel the same. When it came time to rational numbers, then, I realized that I needed to do something to spice up the subject. This led to a Fractions Carnival! Groups of students partnered together to create real carnival games relating to fractions and rational numbers. For example, students bobbed for ducks to match equivalent fractions, as fractions were written on the bottom of each yellow creature. The level of growth I saw over the three years of this project vs the previous years was so inspiring and really made me realize I was on the right track.

Jaime clowning around at the Fraction Carnival!

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She even got her family involved. That's passion!

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Other Fraction Carnival activities:

 Click here to see this buncee!

What is the Global Makerspaces project about?

Global MakerDay is about creating a space for students to engage in work that means something to them with the ability to share it on a global scale. There are obviously many components that tie into Global MakerDay, but I think one of my main interests is in the way a student’s perspective on education can change from sharing their content globally. Understanding that there are different ways of viewing the world based on where you grow up is vital to understanding humanity in general. Plus, there is an opportunity to truly connect and build relationships with students throughout the globe!

Sounds great! How does one get started, and what can an educator expect from the event?

First, everyone should visit the homepage of Global MakerDay! There are 4 categories that make up the day, “Designer,” “Entrepreneur,” “Recreator,” and “Global Problem Solver.” Every hour there will be live presentations surrounding these four categories in which viewers will be able to watch the presentations, ask questions, and participate in the presenter challenges and activities. There will also be a virtual vendor hall with live chat to connect with the presenters and companies. Once a teacher registers for the event, he or she will receive a confirmation email with important information to get them excited and ready! What I really hope educators take advantage of is connecting, collaborating, and networking with other participants. Sharing ideas and resources is key to improving education. 

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What inspired you to start your own Global Makerspaces project?

This is actually an interesting question. Of course, I think my initial inspiration derived from EdCamp Global. I got excited about the work EdCamp Global did and the passion and enthusiasm I saw from the participants. However, my mission with Global MakerDay is a bit different, and it really spurs from my own experience as a student. I was never a “good student.” I only worried about making a high enough grade to continue to play sports. I felt this immense insecurity when it came to my academics, though, as I was taught that all academic value was based on the grade and not what individuals were capable of. After years of not measuring up, it’s easy to think that you don’t have any academic skills. However, once I realized that I did, in fact, have my own academic value, my world opened up! I realized that I am a maker - a global event maker - and that we all have a maker in us, however non-traditional it might be. I am hoping that Global MakerDay will inspire participants to value their academic capabilities, even if they have been made to feel they are inadequate.

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How important do you think a global audience for students? What are the main benefits?

Well, it’s all about perspective. Right? Understanding that there are many ways to view the same subject is really important in life. It can also help validate student work. If one person critics your work, there will be another to praise it and both opinions are important. It’s about being globally aware, receiving validation of your work, being empowered, and gaining confidence.

Parting Thoughts

What I really hope results from this amazing day is a change in education. I know that that is a big dream, but I like to dream big. We need to make time for our kids to reflect on their true capabilities, cultivate their passions, and stop demonizing learning that doesn’t fit the grade system. If we truly want to help students learn about life, themselves, and our curriculum, then we need to figure out how to include everyone. And I aspire to start this conversation with the participants of Global MakerDay.

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