Getting on Board with the Makerspace Movement.

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K-State College of Education Makerspace

A spinoff of the Maker Faire movement, makerspaces are learning environments with tools that offer opportunities to create, learn, play, and invent. Spaces may run the gamut of non-profit, community spaces where people learn trades, to classrooms where project-based learning takes place. Many school libraries are currently being reconfigured to include areas that expose students to maker projects. Every makerspace is different because needs can be so different. Here are some ideas for getting on board with the the maker space movement.

  1.  One of our favorite websites for learning about all types of makerspaces offers a free “playbook” for getting your own space up and running. It’s a comprehensive guide and covers aspects such as what to put in your space, safety rules, and other helpful resources. You will also find photos and templates from maker spaces around the country to help you make decisions about your makerspace.
  2. School-based makerspaces are a fairly new concept for students and families. A resource we like (and it’s free on Amazon for Kindle) is Roselund and Rodgers’ Makerspaces, a great book for introducing your 4th grade and above students to the concept, content, and use of makerspaces.
  3. Want some additional tips for starting your own? Check out Colleen Graves’ article, Starting a School Makerspace From Scratch.
  4. Jen Walsh has put together 103 ideas on her Pinterest page for projects, challenges, and makerspace projects. We liked the design cycle she features as well.
  5. The design thinking process is certainly a great takeaway from the makerspace environment. keslerscience.com offers an awesome blog on the shift from making in the makerspace to becoming a maker outside the space.

Elementary teachers may want to get students involved in the makerspace mindset but have no formal space designated in the school. A corner of a classroom can certainly suffice. Supplies could be center-based or included in a content rotation. Makerspaces and students are a natural combination.  Be sure to make your materials needs known to parents and PTOs. With access to an array of materials, students may create something unique that has never been seen before.

Secondary teachers may want to meet with technical skills teachers to discuss goals and needs. School-to-community connections may be possible by offering maker nights that allow community members to work with teachers, students or on their own to develop new skills. If your building currently utilizes family math or literacy nights, how might making incorporate those contents?

Everyone has the potential to be a maker. Hopefully these ideas will give you inspiration and you will share your maker spaces with us! We would love to feature photos of your makerspaces in future blogs!

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Easing Back Into the School Year

It’s time to go back.


The transition from winter vacations to back-to-school days can be challenging for all. Readiness to return can differ enormously–from students in dire need of food security to students that have been on luxurious ski vacations. Somehow teachers must find their own place in the school readiness continuum while supporting students as they make their journey back to relationships, relevance, and rigor at school. Here are some tips for navigating your way to second semester.

  1. Tidy up your classroom. You may have felt desperate to start the vacation and left some chores undone. Look at the learning space with a critical eye. Could a first semester tub be used to clear away items that will not be used anymore? How about your desk? Perhaps you want to revisit some of your ideas for setting up your classroom in the fall. Some Pinterest hopes may not have been practical. Other Fall ideas may still be viable now that you know your classroom community well.
  2. Review your curriculum. Everyone may struggle physically and mentally towards the school schedule. Ease into the curriculum by reviewing academic vocabulary and concepts. Make the first weeks more fun for you by collaborating with a colleague on an upcoming unit or project. If you are starting from scratch as a brand new teacher, it is okay to ask for help! New teachers need to keep in mind some “thank you’s” (a bottle of water and a granola bar on a desk can go a long way) for veteran teachers that take time to mentor and support.
  3. Anticipate challenges to the work-life balance. Frozen meals in the freezer? Grab and go snacks in the fridge? What types of time-friendly supports offer you and those you love some time together? Sometimes setting the alarm for 15 minutes of uninterrupted time can be a boost that lasts the whole day. One follower of this blog offered: This may sound crazy, but “Taco Tuesday” is sacred. We get caught up on each others’ lives and make our rest-of-the-week and weekend plans.
  4. Organize your mindset. This blog is a huge fan of Carol Dweck’s Mindset materials. Our mindset is the key to how we and our students experience reality. We may need visual reminders to help our minds land on thoughts that are energizing, empowering, and affirming. We may need to remind ourselves to compliment our students’ work efforts, not the just end product.
  5. Model your coping strategies. It is a new year, a new semester, and a new chapter of life! What are you doing to make 2017 a great year personally and professionally? As a successful professional, YOU have goals, grit, and a reflective practice to propel yourself into the new year. These good habits may only be available to your students from you. Including your students as you plan your work and work your plan may model some of the most important skills your students learn this semester.

As you all ease back into the school year, don’t forget to have fun! Teacherhub.com has some great ideas for you and your students to kick off the spring semester. We’ll be here, cheering you on and bringing you more ideas as we celebrate all things EdCats! #WeAreEdCats