I recently attended Makerspace trainings with our school librarian, Mrs. G. There were three trainings for us to learn everything we could about creating a Makerspace on our campus. When we started in the fall, there was an idea of changing our library to include an area where students wouldn't be reading, but would be creating. Both of us had heard of Makerspaces, but really had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into.
The first training gave us a few ideas (have to have MakeyMakey, cardboard can be more useful than we thought, greenscreens are cool). It also gave us a few headaches (how to get parent support both in and out of school, how much tech do we include, where are we getting the money for supplies and activities). We debated the structure of what it would be like for the students. Would Mrs. G provide specific activities or would the kids get to explore on their own each week? (I am mostly providing tech and motivational support.) We left feeling we had a long way to go, but boy were we excited.
By the second training, our Makerspace was in full swing. (I'll let Mrs. G explain the specifics when I get her to publish her blog!) We had both students and parents excited about what was going on. Kids were coming into the library/Makerspace during their recess and lunch times to create. Some were working with the Lego wall, others learning to write in calligraphy. My students were upset when our time got cancelled due to an assembly. (Who would have guessed students would complain about missing library time!) Mrs. G was constantly coming to me to share all of the wonderful tech that we were getting that she had no idea what to do with. Our excitement matched the students.
As we finished the third and final training, I discovered that our Makerspace has exceeded our expectations. The students are still exploring both newer and older materials. We are bringing their creations into our classroom academics. (Currently they are using their Makerspace learning to create something that goes with their Genius Hour projects.) All of the students are excited to bring home their project to show off at home. Most of the kids have figured out a new talent (over half the class has learned how to sew, a skill I have never figured out!). They have their favorite items to create with, like the MagnaTiles and Hue Stopmotion Animation Studio. Students just discovered Sphero and Bloxels. And there is always the never ending supply of cardboard for hours of crafting fun.
What has made me the most impressed about this whole adventure is the students. They bring excitement each week with what they have created. Taking apart various electronics has lead to amazing discussions and problem solving among the kids that a text book could never have done. Kids think they are getting play time each week. We know they are learning lifelong skills not taught often enough in school.
What I learned...
-Hands-on learning is important, not just in academic subjects
-Freedom to choose what they want has allowed for new talents to come to light
-Mrs. G rocks!
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching