I love the idea of Makerspaces and want to incorporate it into my library but there are 2 obstacles in the way: space and the dreaded master schedule. So not having enough space is really just an excuse for not doing it because there are lots of ways to overcome limited space: carts, bookshelves, a cabinet, etc… but changing the master schedule to allow time for enrichment is something that will take administrative approval and their belief that it is important.
Let me give you some background on my school. I am in a small urban school district with over 60% of my student population receiving free and reduced lunch, and my school was placed on the NY State Focus Schools list a few years ago because we were not making AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) on state exams. After a lot of hard work by teachers last year changing our teaching styles and differentiating everything, our students made progress last year. Yeah!!! If we make progress again this year, then we will be taken off the Focus status.
So why is all this related to the schedule? Because of our test scores, the administration has placed tight restraints on the schedule requiring 120 minutes of literacy and 90 minutes of math every day and let’s not forget science, social studies, lunch, and specials. This means that there really is very little time for enrichment. I can’t do before or after school clubs because our district does not support after school programs at the elementary level.
All that being said, I have a 3D printer on order and will be incorporating it into each of my classes next year. I even have a teacher all lined up to work on a project this year even if we don’t get the printer in on time. An essential part of makerspaces seems to be allowing students the opportunity to create whatever they would like given the objects they have on hand. I really like this idea and will embrace it in my classes and will encourage my teachers to allow students some freedom as well. But as the filament to print is not cheap, students will need to follow some guidelines before they will be able to print which will limit their creativity somewhat but hopefully not too much.
The more I researched about makerspaces, the more I realized that I had a limited idea of what it meant and that I need to broaden my definition to include computer applications that can be used to create something. As a crafty person, I used to see makerspaces as being a place where students could knit, sew, crochet, scrapbook, use legos, and other interlocking toys. I have been limiting myself by not including computers which I readily have available in the library. I have a 4th grade math enrichment group using Scratch to create a game with multiple steps and this would definitely fall under this category especially since the only guidelines they were given was to create something that had multiple steps and was interactive. Where they took it from there was up to them and they were pretty creative.
After reading some links, I will have to try out Roblox, Minecraftedu, and various online journaling and photography websites. I also want to peruse some garage/yard sales this summer and maybe I’ll find some of the really cool interlocking toys that are too expensive new.
I’m ready to get started. Now I just need to find someone who can come in and teach the kids how to knit and crochet.
Makerbot Replicator Mini (360 degrees turntable view) by Creative Tools (https://www.flickr.com/photos/creative_tools/16171009504/) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)%5D, via Flickr
Multilink cubes: “Multilink cubes” by Annielogue – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Multilink_cubes.JPG#/media/File:Multilink_cubes.JPG