Thursday, November 09, 2017

MakerSpace! MakerSpace! MakerSpace!

"A Makerspace is a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore and discover using a variety of tools."  - Diana Rendina

Today was one of those days, when the stars aligned and a lesson plan came full circle.  I love teaching with ozobots.  Students are intrigued by how they work and willing to do any type of learning in order to get to use them.  For today’s lesson, I created a math review for second grade.  Each station had a problem or direction for students to complete and they also practiced drawing lines and codes for the ozobot.  There was one ozobot per four students and absolutely no reminders were necessary about patience and taking turns.  Instead, I witnessed students teaching students and overheard discussions about what worked and what they wanted to change.  Then we wrapped up and had a whole class discussion, through which they planned out next week’s lesson. 

Photo Credit – Megan Crawford

Chris O'Brien stated, "As a rule of thumb, project-project-based learning and school makerspaces work much better to motivate students than any marble jar, point system or promise of pizza ever could” (2017).  When students complete maker-based projects, they are creating real world things.  Throughout this process there is an opportunity for success and also for mistakes.  Students have the opportunity to make changes or improvements, to think deeper.  As a library media specialist, my role includes empowering students to be creative thinkers, problem solvers and producers.  

True or False? Creating a Makerspace is expensive…  This is exactly why I do not care for true and false questions – it can be done with a high or low budget.  I would like to point out ways you can start out with a low budget. 
  1. Recycle – start a school wide campaign to collect paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, tissue boxes, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and paper.
  2. Throw away NOTHING – save bubble wrap, packing peanuts and the box it came in.
  3. Donations – Post a list of items to get you started: pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, duct tape, masking tape, googly eyes, fabric, thread, yarn, wire, plastic spoons, styrofoam cups, straws and paper plates. 
  4. Take advantage of the other popular trend – “simplifying”  When families wonder what to do with toys your kids outgrow suggest they donate them to the school library – Legos, K’nex, Lincoln Logs, Jenga, and Magnatiles are great additions to any Makerspace. 
  5. Garage Sales – I actually had a student pick up and ozobot at a garage sale and donate it to the library. 

You can start a makerspace with a few well-placed baskets of “stuff”, however if you are looking for low cost items to purchase, consider Strawbees, Origami paper, Geoboards, Legos, hand-sewing projects and Stop motion Animation.  When you have more money to spend consider Little Bits, Ozobots, Snap Circuits, Sphero, Makey-Makey, a green screen and a Lego wall. 

Makerspaces take on many styles.  In our district alone, each school that has one looks different.  One elementary has a very successful club that meets after school.  Others have a space in their library that teachers can bring their students to, and then there are those like mine that have a few items teachers check out and use in the classrooms.  My advice is to start with what you are comfortable with.  For me it is ozobots, which opened doors to collaboration with teachers and engaged learners.  Although I am still very new at the Maker Movement, I invite you to join me on my journey. 

Twitter Questions:
  1. What experiences are you trying to create with Makerspaces?
  2. What learning goals and outcomes do you want to achieve in this space?
  3. How would a Makerspace benefit visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners?
  4. What standards and learning goals can be met through Makerspaces?

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