Studying Learning in the Makerspace

I’m fortunate to spend most weekdays in classrooms, working beside teachers as they design and test new plans, refine their instructional approaches, and learn more about engaging students. Typically, this work happens inside of English Language Arts classrooms and writing workshops, but more and more often, the teachers that I support are transforming traditional environments into studio and makerspaces, and I get to help out.

This week, I’m at Roy B. Kelley Elementary School in Lockport, where technology coach Heather Bitka and librarian Rachel O’Sheehan are launching a brand new makerspace. We began by establishing a clear vision of the maker they hope to shape and the space they hope to create. We’ve taken care to align our plans back to this vision as well.

Today, Rachel and Heather welcome their first group of students into the space. These second graders will begin by exploring the room and using their iPads to capture photographs that will help them answer these questions:

What could happen in a space like this? 

What are we curious about?

Rachel and Heather don’t intend to tell the students much about the space or what it means to be a maker right away. It will be interesting to see what they infer based upon their exploration of this very different environment and all of the new resources available to them. I know that Rachel plans to create a post-up of their responses so that she may revisit them with students over time. We hope that their thinking about this space and how they might use it will grow over time, and we’re excited to see how, exactly.

This project inspired me to rethink the lesson study model I’ve relied on in previous years as well. I’m not sure this traditional model, intended for classroom use, works as well in this new environment. Today, Rachel and Heather and I are taking this new model for a test drive. I’d love your feedback on it, if you have time to spare.

It isn’t really a protocol, as I haven’t defined a tight procedure, and I know it’s typically the procedure that creates equity. It is a process that we intend to move through purposefully, and the questions embedded in each phase could help to ensure that we’re maintaining a reflective stance, aligning our approach to our greater vision, and using evidence rather than assumption to guide our decision making as we begin studying learning in the makerspace.

What do you think? I’d love to know.




About Angela

Founder of the WNY Young Writer's Studio, I'm a writer, a teacher, and a professional development service provider specializing in literacy.

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