How I Use It
In my Makers class, the MAKE website is used in two ways: inspiration and analysis.
Students will start by thumbing through some of hard copies of MAKE magazine, in pairs, to see some of the things that people are making. The pairings help motivate students to more actively look through the magazine - instead of just flipping pages, students start to talk about the things they see. This builds excitement and interest, even if they think the ideas are "crazy" or "timpossible" for them to make. After finding something that interests them, we then go to the MAKE website to find out more about the project. Inevitably the students will leave the webpages of the projects they started on, and end up on a project page that they really want to take on. Now they begin searching for how to make it, which they might find on MAKE's site or on another DIY site.
The analysis piece comes in when the students do their blog post write-ups on the project. They realize that sharing what they've done is more than just writing up a set of step-by-step instructions. Their write-ups need more content in them if they are to be interesting to their audience. We return to MAKE magazine to read some articles again about the Makers and Contributors to the site. We re-read the projects to find out what details were shared that didn't even have to do with building the project. With a healthy list of observations, the students go about including those elements in their own write-ups.
While MAKE doesn't have the diversity of projects that you can find on Instructables, it does have something the other DIY site lacks: stories. This site includes personal stories that tell you about the person that created the project, and the motivation that they had for making their project in the first place. Whether it be something with real practical purpose, or just something made for whimsical reasons, the story itself draws in a different type of engagement from students. After reading some of the stories, it isn't hard to have students analyze the write-ups to begin discovering potential writing techniques that "hook" readers into a non-fiction article.
If you run a STEAM program in your school, or do anything with the Maker Movement, then MAKE magazine *has* to be in your library's subscription list. This website serves as the perfect compliment to that magazine, especially since many of the projects from the magazine link to the website where there are more detailed instructions, photos and videos. You can even find links to their MakerEd store when supplies for some of the projects, or even complete kits, can be found.
Like most other DIY websites, you aren't going to find lesson plans for classroom use. You will, however, find step-by-step instructions, a creative and supportive community of collaborators, and inspiration for amazing new things.