Building Instructional Partnerships through Library MakerSpaces

Contributed by Jill DeFarno, elementary librarian

One of the reasons I made the leap from the comforts of my classroom to the LMC was that I wanted a change and a challenge.  Little did I know that I was going to get a lot of both.

In the past two and a half years I have learned that the library world is dynamic and on the forefront of new ideas.  When I started taking classes for my library endorsement we discussed MakerSpaces.  I thought that as I became more familiar with the LMC I’d eventually incorporate one into the library.  However, with the generosity of the district’s education foundation I found myself with a handful of robots, littleBits and the task of creating a MakerSpace in the LMC this year.  I was given the flexibility from building and district leadership to make this space and the tools at our disposal work for the students and staff at my school.   And that is what teachers and I are figuring out every day.

I’m very fortunate that my staff trusts me and is willing to collaborate.  I meet with each team at least once a month and we’ve been brainstorming ways to incorporate the maker materials into student learning.   For example, the fourth grade teachers wanted to do a book report.  We decided to have the kids make book trailers.  When we did this last year I did several whole group lessons.  This year we divided the kids up into smaller groups and I worked with them in the MakerSpace area to create the trailers.  It was a much better experience and product.  I was able to work with all of the kids and they had the opportunity to help each other.  It gave me a chance to teach them digital citizenship skills, like citing images, through one on one conversations. In the small groups, students also had the freedom to work at their own pace and ask questions based on what they were doing, not what I was teaching.  Facilitating a student-centered learning opportunity gave me many more chances to talk to students about their books and get a better idea of their reading interests.  This unit worked out so well that my next collaboration with this team of teacher is to create stop-motion videos of Greek myths.  The MakerSpace has led to more opportunities to collaborate with teachers because it is out in the open. As teachers pass through, they stop to see what the classes are doing and are asking me to plan similar opportunities for their students.

defarno-maker-project

Students collaborate on book trailers in the library MakerSpace.

Finally, I was awarded a grant of over $1400 to create a maker section of books in the library collection.  This will allow students who come to the space to checkout and read books at their level and learn a variety of maker concepts.  The kids are so excited to be in the space and have the opportunity to learn new things.  It is amazing to see the students work together to  find success with a task.  I’m not sure what the future holds for the LMC, but I know it will be exciting and challenging and I can’t wait!

defarno-maker-books

Maker books are a hit with our students!

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