Sunday, March 1, 2015

Makerspace in the Making

For those of you who are long term friends and readers, you know that this space is truly just my online learning log, a place to document what I've tried, what I've learned, and what is inspiring me. It has been a while since my last post, not because I wasn't doing any of the above, but because my perspective changed a bit. I am now out of the classroom completely.  It has been a big adjustment and knowing how to have a voice in the blog-o-sphere has been lost on me because I am such a practitioner at heart.  I read other blogs where school leaders are sharing about thoughts and opinions on Common Core, state assessments, and philosophies about teacher prep programs and I can honestly say that I am less likely to share what I am thinking about a topic than I am about what I am doing.  I would much rather tell you how we are implementing the Common Core State Standards, how we implemented a new after-school program to prepare for state assessments, or how we are turning professional development on its head and seeing fantastic results.  (It must be the teacher in me., but rather than say anything, I have said nothing for many months.

I wasn't sure anyone would really be ThAt interested, but I have missed blogging.  So, I am jumping back in doing the only thing I know how to do...telling you about my latest venture.

So, what am I doing?  I am in the very beginnings of creating a Makerspace at my school. Makerspaces have been around for a few years. I first saw a video featuring a Makerspace designed by the one and only, Laura Fleming, media specialist at New Milford High, last year.
3-D printing, make and take apart, programming, circuitry, soldering, sewing, crafting, designing, creating...making.  Who wouldn't want this in their school?

Why now? As soon as I saw it,  I shared the video and additional links with hopes that it would capture the interest of others.  It did, but while my co-workers thought it was awesome, they were like me, stumped about how to make it happen.  I mean, which of us could show a student how to turn a banana into a space bar or an orange into the "enter" key?  No one...not a single one.  Much less make play-doh into a joystick:
I knew the kids would love it though, so I attended ISTE 2014 conference with hopes to learn more. I was so inspired and again thought, "We should start a Makerspace". Still no progress beyond the thought.  Fast forward 8 months later to February 2015. I attended Ignite '15 and heard a presentation by Eric Sheninger, the principal who had the vision and made the decision to hire Laura Fleming who designed the Makerspace at New Milford.
After hearing how neither he nor the librarian had any idea about how any of this stuff worked when beginning their project, but committed to figuring it out along the way, I was inspired to stop thinking and start doing! It is time to take a give it a make the leap. I believe that I do not have to have all of the answers, I just have to be willing to put myself out there and learn.

Why?  It is for the students.  It is time to allow them to become creators, not just consumers.  It is time to empower them with knowledge about how stuff works and foster skills that will allow them to re-imagine their world.

So where am I in this process?  I am definitely taking baby steps.
  • I ordered my first "kit" within hours of hearing Eric Sheninger's presentation.  I chose the Makey Makey - the kit that turns the banana into the space bar, the stairs into a piano, and playdoh into a joystick - because it just looked fun!
  • I arrived home from the conference  at 1 AM on Monday morning and spent Snow Day #1 writing 2 grants for more stuff for the Makerspace (3-D printer, Little Bits, Smart Home kit, and more).  
  • On Snow Day #2, the Makey Makey arrived.  I opened it, looked at it, and put it back in the box :)  
  • Snow Day #3, I finished a video application for another project and still avoided the Makey Makey. 
  • Day #4, back at work. I collaborated with the IT department (who got really excited about putting practical technology into students hands - and then admitted that they didn't know how to make a banana space bar either). 
  • Day #5, found out that Radio Shack near our school is closing.  Hopped in the car and headed out to shop!  I ended up purchasing way too much and have absolutely no idea what any of it does, but I am certain that when I figure it out that it will be really cool.
  • Day #6, found Tinker, Make & Learn, a MOOC related to creating a Makerspace and promptly enrolled.
  • Day #7, I have completed my first assignment in the MOOC and decided to blog about my journey so that if anyone else out there is like me...having no idea how any of this works, but knowing that it would be engaging for can learn about available resources as I document my progress toward Making a Makerspace.


Mrs. D said...

I can't wait to follow your journey and hope to join you very soon with our own!!

Cindy Wallace said...

I introduced the idea to some middle school friends today. They were so excited and agreed to help me come up with a design! I know your kids are going to love it too.

Laura Fleming said...

Wow! I am just beyond thrilled that our work could serve as an inspiration for you! I love process you used in planning your space! Looking forward to watching the amazing things you do! Thanks again! --Laura Fleming

Cindy Wallace said...

Laura - you are an inspiration! Thank you for your sweet comments and all of the work you have done to blaze a trail for the rest of us joining you in the maker's journey.