IDEAS FROM AASL 2017
By Laura Guest
Who has time for a makerspace? Our school district has joined a national push for school libraries to offer maker space experiences for our students. I see each class for 30 minutes per week which includes checkout. I’ve already switched to an every-other-week checkout for grades 4th-6th grade because there are 32 students in several of the classes making it mathematically impossible to teach a lesson, browse and check out!
Maker Space excitement abounded at AASL 2017. Several of the Idea Lab tables were about Maker Spaces, the exhibit hall, and several sessions throughout the conference. Diana Maliszewski and Melanie Mulcaster presented Maker Space your Literacy Program; their slides are available at http://Http://bit.ly/2fs7XMP. One of the key points from this session was “The richness of making lies in the ability of all learners to share their thinking processes in the attempt to make sense, re-assess, evaluate and confirm the world around them. We must make the time to document, share, and reflect on student learning in order to drive future instruction.” It is the first time I could find justification for a maker space and defend that it is not just a place for kids to play because they didn’t get to play in kindergarten. Free play and socializing seems to elude kindergarten classrooms as they are too busy trying to learning to read and work their way through math, social studies and science curriculum.
Besides learning to work with others and talk about how and why they want to “do it” a certain way, maker spaces can be tied to curriculum. I purchased circuits to complement our 4th grade science unit and items such as K’Nex, Legos, Strawbees to support the 6th grade Structures unit. And to tie it directly to the library curriculum students can demonstrate understanding of a book I read. For example, after reading The Night Gardner students created animals using paper, legos and computers. Kerry Roche Ferguson posted on Facebook “After reading Jabari Jumps, I had students construct their own high diving boards using Legos, Lincoln Logs, blocks and K’nex.” Almost any event could include a written piece even if just a reflection on their experience. One of their slides has nine points of reflection (what did you discover about yourself today? What else do you wonder? How did you share or document your learning? Etc.
Diana Rendina presentation on How to Reimagine Your Library Space and Transform Student Learning will help with the physical space—how to make room when there is no more room! She has a wealth of information on her website http://dianarendinapresents.wikispaces.com and has written a book on the same topic.
Where will I fit it in? I will start by surveying my teachers to see who still has “fun Friday” or “fee choice” times during the school day. I would like to offer the library maker space as a place students could spend their time. I would give teachers so many passes and they could choose students to come to the library. Some of the activities such as the Hue Animation Studio and the Dash & Ozobot robots would need more time to explore and create a project. I hope to use a recess plus model where the students uses their 20 minute recess and 10-20 minutes of class to work in the maker space. I will also look into a before school camp where students come for 3 or 4 days in a row to work with the more complex choices.