Our Makerspace, Our Makers

In our original TLLP proposal, the maker resources were to be used in both a dedicated makerspace and in three classrooms (Brian’s, Carole’s and Irene’s) with the hope of comparing the successes of both. Students aren’t making in the classrooms yet (our goal for second term!), but the makerspace is a bustling hive. Here’s a bit about this space.

The makerspace abuts our learning commons and is the site of a previous computer lab. We couldn’t ask for more: students often flow out into the learning commons (i.e. my classroom) from the makerspace through an adjoining door, there is a vast amount of countertop workspace and undercounter storage space, it is brightly lit and there are lots of electrical outlets.

Here’s what our Makerspace looks like in a typical day: we run our knitting club and our sewing club once a week, with teacher supervision and student leader (we are also running a coding club, in the learning commons, but this will shift to the makerspace soon as we are using arduinos/laptops and we need the electrical outlets). Most other nutrition breaks, we open the makerspace to grades 4-8.  On any given break, there is anywhere between 5 and 15 students creating. Some are sewing, some are knitting, many are using purchased or donated materials, others are using the green screen.

The makerspace is also used during instructional time. I give prep release to Brian, Carole and Irene, so when I have their classes, we are creating in the makerspace and documenting our learning. This will be the topic of another blog post.

Here are some little takeaways from my time in the makerspace so far:

  1. Kids are messy and they don’t enjoy tidying up. My level of cleanliness is not the same as theirs. I have to let go of that, or my frustration level will kill their creativity.
  2. Making can be wasteful. I’m an efficient user of materials, kids aren’t. Plus, making mistakes is such a deep way to learn, that I need to shift my thinking. If the waste is due to a failure where students have reflected and learned, I need to embrace that.
  3. Kids don’t know how to use simple tools such as velcro and buttons on their own creations–I need to explicitly teach a lot of what is in the makerspace.
  4. Keeping organized is key–and that takes a lot of time and energy. I have reached out to a few student leaders and they are helping with this, but it’s a constant job.