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Friday, October 7 • 3:15pm - 4:15pm
Making Meaning: Invitation to make in theory & practice

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This panel explores making from theory to practice, offering ways to think about making as support for emerging ideas, building worlds, and even repairing the world.
- The first presenter brings Elaine Scarry’s unmaking/making framework into conversation with Plato’s explanation of “making” (poeisis) to propose a rhetorically-invested approach to making. In her book The Body in Pain, Elaine Scarry argues that pain does more than resist linguistic expression, it “actively destroys it, bringing about an immediate reversion to a state anterior to language” (4). Pain unmakes the world. In response, making—artifacts, art, texts—can be a means of repair. Scarry’s examples of making include the construction of artifacts designed to take over the body’s labor or act as an extension to the self, including everyday objects, like chairs. The first presenter adds to this understanding by considering texts, digital and otherwise, that can indeed make the world. “Repairing the world” does not suggest that people can be simply healed or fixed or that the torturer’s damage can ever be undone; rather, through examples of making in the midst of destruction, the first speaker illuminates the possibilities for making the violence of rhetoric part of a process of repair.
- The second presenter explores making in relation to teachers’ professional development, specifically teachers at a site of the National Writing Project. The presenter shares program design that welcomes language arts teachers into the world of making. Inviting language arts teachers to make—hacking notebooks, inventing with MaKey MaKey, or exploring 3D printing—has created an affinity group (Gee) who build connections between the making of literacies and the making of artifacts. Through participation in maker culture, teachers reimagine what it means to fail and what counts as meaning making for themselves and their students.
- The third presenter explores the work of students who participate in a scientific inquiry class. The students make artifacts as a way to represent their emerging scientific ideas. However, the students are not making in response to an assignment, but instead describe feeling “compelled” to go home and make as a way to understand science and also as a means for sharing their nascent scientific ideas with their peers.  The presenter talks through the notion of emergent ideas (emerging as you play with things) and the affordance and constraints offered by the every day materials students use. The student artifacts offer a move away from ""maker as a disposition” to maker as a way to make meaning and content. It’s not just “maker” stuff (like rockets we make in hands-on science labs), but making woven into the ways in which ideas are developed and furthered.
- Across all the presenters, we think about the potential of making to invite participation and value a diversity of ways to make meaning. We intend to support participation in this session—and embrace maker culture—by asking the panel and participants to make artifacts, notes, tweets, mind maps, etc., as we work through the ideas in the session. We see this session as offering both research and models for our work, weaving theory and practice.

avatar for Kim Jaxon

Kim Jaxon

Associate Professor, English, CSU, Chico
I'm an associate professor of English (Composition & Literacy) at California State University, Chico. My research interests focus on literacies, particularly digital literacies, the teaching of writing, course design, and teacher education.
avatar for Peter Kittle

Peter Kittle

Director, Northern California Writing Project
Peter Kittle is Professor of English at California State University, Chico, where he directs the Northern California Writing Project (NCWP). Offering professional development on a wide variety of literacy-centered topics, the NCWP especially focuses on content-area literacy, technology... Read More →
avatar for Laura Sparks

Laura Sparks

Assistant Professor, California State University, Chico

Friday October 7, 2016 3:15pm - 4:15pm PDT
Emerald Bay B