You have to have a dedicated space to be able to talk about makerspaces.
False. Makerspaces are the intersection of creativity and community. Those moments can happen anywhere at anytime. You could have a quick maker moment using items found in students’ desks. You could have a small makerspace in your classroom or a mobile makerspace in your school that could travel to multiple classrooms. Maybe your makerspace lives in your school’s media center or you have a dedicated makerspace in your school. Maker moments live in any place that allows creative thinking and collaboration to learn and create.
Students must be completely self-directed in a makerspace.
False. I’ve always advocated for students to be able to have choice in a makerspace. However, there are times that a student may not know what they want to do in an unstructured time. This may be new and uncomfortable for them. With that being said, I still believe that ALL students are makers. You don’t have to be a gifted student to be creative, you don’t have a to a geek to make something new. It’s great to be able to offer students support in a school makerspace, because sometimes new creative avenues can form from a bit of structure.
- Have a set of makerspace challenge cards in your space to give students a direction to get started.
- Link the making back to what students are learning about in class time to give them a strong background to support their making or allow them to make a product to demonstrate their learning.
- Take on a school-wide makerspace theme, like a Think, Make, Innovate makerspace challenge episode for one month and see what the students can come up with.
True. We’ve had students create costumes out of cardboard for a reader’s theater. Students have recreated green screen fairy tales to test their story telling skills. Actually, makerspace projects can be a great extension or connection to any subject. Students have tested their math skills by designing a game for a robot. They've learned about scale through 3D printing. Students have tested their science and physics skills by creating catapults. And circuits by designing celebration machines. Creativity can easily be connected to any subject.
Makerspaces need to have specific tools or technology.
False. A makerspace should be equipped with tools that the community needs. Every makerspace community is unique and there is no magic list of what you need to have in your makerspace. Some of the most creative projects I’ve seen come from very simple tools you probably already have around your classroom by redesigning common objects into extraordinary objects. Simply collect materials from recycle bins around the school and see what the students can do with it. It is an interesting challenge to take something unusable and turn it into something that is useful.
If you do dive into purchasing tools or technology, make sure it aligns with skills you want your students to be practicing. Exploring coding? Consider robots or free online coding programs. Exploring storytelling? Take a look at iPad apps that encourages unique storytelling like stop motion or green screen.
It’s important to be flexible in a makerspace.
True. Flexibility is a key requirement in a makerspace for both students and teachers. Students may start a project and it may not turn out the way they intended. Problem solving and creativity can take you a long way when things don’t necessarily go the way that you expect. Teachers need to have flexible thinking in a makerspace. Teachers need not be afraid of an environment where students are making decisions. Often times when students are in the process of making, they are very engaged, focused and learning from each other.
Teachers really need to think of themselves as a learner with the students during their making process. Don’t feel like you need to be an expert on the topic every students is exploring and creating. Ask questions and learn about the ways that your students think. Finding out “What inspired this idea? What is working well with your design? What did you learn about yourself during the challenge?” brings you into their design world.
Sometimes this could feel awkward, but consider this thought from Krissy Venosdale...
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