Monday, March 5, 2018

Makerspaces Encourage Student Innovation

Newbery Webinar

Sketchnote by Tamiko and Andrew Brown

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Social Media Transformed my Library Program

Click here to read more

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Creating A Mobile Classroom Makerspace Library Program

As a school librarian, I try to offer spaces where students can create, make, and innovate. Trying to offer a makerspace to 100% of the student population can quickly become limiting due to space. Offering a mobile classroom makerspace solves this problem. A mobile classroom makerspace library program allows classroom teachers to check out 6 to 8 makerspace activities with the needed supplies packed together in one cart. Teachers can check-out a cart for their classroom for a week. During that week teachers can unpack the activities, and create a pop-up makerspace in their classroom when it fits into their schedule.

Last year I tried this at Ed White E-STEM with kindergarten and first grade classes. The teachers and students loved the mobile classroom makerspace carts so much we added a cart for 2nd grade this school year. The 2nd grade teachers want to take it a step farther. They want the library to supply a book with each activity, so they can use the cart as part of a Literacy Station. The students will explore, make, read, and then write about their experience.
The second year of this program has been a learning experience. This year we were able to fine tune the offerings in each cart by teachers expressing what worked, and what didn’t work last year. We used teacher input as one measure to create this year’s inventory list for the mobile classroom makerspace carts.
5 things to think about when creating a mobile classroom makerspace.
1. Funding:
 Last year PTA funded the initial $2,000.00 cost of the carts. This year PTA increased the funding of the carts to 3,000.00. Our PTA sees the benefits of the program. The carts offer students a level playing field. Students can utilize makerspace resources without relying on their parents to purchase the resource at home.
To gain funding try asking PTA or write a grant. Donors Chose and Go Fund Me offer crowd sourcing grants that would consider awarding a makerspace grant. Ask for donations. Currently each Ed White E-STEM cart is supplied with a donated cell phone which is needed to operate the Google Cardboard. Lots of school districts offer Education Foundations that offer grants.
2. Voice and Choice: Voice and choice are very important in a makerspace. The library is the place where students strengthen their STEM Identity which empowers their individual voice in STEM fields of study. This is partly because students do not fear failure in the library. Makerspace activities give students a chance to strengthen their independent voice.  Choice is also an important part of strengthening student voice. Create a survey or informally ask students their thoughts on materials before they are purchased. Look at the popularity or lack of popularity of makerspace resources before they are added to the inventory list of the mobile classroom carts. Be sure to ask teachers for their input as the mobile classroom makerspace carts are created. Ask teachers if they think they will really use the material. Each year my campus has invited J’amie Quick from Maker Maven to meet with the librarian and teachers as we build custom orders for the mobile classroom carts. Teachers are left feeling empowered which is important because these are their carts. I want them to take ownership of carts, so they are used, and they feel comfortable using them in their classrooms.

3. Organization  
Organization is a key element to set up a successful mobile classroom makerspace library program. Mobile makerspaces come in all shapes and sizes. But, portability is essential in all mobile makerspaces. On-line there are pictures of old book carts being repurposed as a maker carts. Maker Maven resources come in a cardboard box so that will work for a while. I use a plastic cart with a lid to pack the mobile makerspace supplies and activities. The cart is labeled by grade level so it’s easy to distinguish as the carts are repacked and checked out from week to week. I make changes each time kits are checked out to prevent students becoming bored with the activities. Think about the packaging durability as organization is planned. Will you catalog each item or just the cart? How long will the carts circulate? Will they circulate by grade level? 

4. Scheduling
At my school the cart is checked out for a week for each teacher on a grade level. We have 5 classes per grade level. One week the cart stays in the library, so I can repack it and check out several new items, and keep the popular items in there when the cart is check out again. It takes 6 weeks for a cart to complete one rotation. Teachers usually do not want to check out the carts during field trip weeks, special events, or holidays. Those weeks are not counted in the six week rotation, and we pick-up the schedule where we left off the following week.
My best advice is to keep the mobile makerspace carts circulating, send home pictures of the students working in the classroom makerspace, post pictures on Social Media following your district’s guidelines, and schedule time for administrators and PTA to see the mobile carts being used to increase support for the program.
5. Vendors/ Wishlist
After conferring with teachers, informally asking students, and assessing the popularity of current resources in the library makerspace, create a wish list of supplies and materials for the mobile classroom makerspace kits. Invite a vendor such as Maker Maven to meet with the librarian and teachers to build the kits. Then watch your mobile classroom makerspace grow.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Building a Great Elementary Makerspace

This is the segment I presented as part of the recent SLJ / ISTE Webinar Building a Great Makerspace.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Nashville Song: The SLJ 2017 Leadership Summit

I was inspired by the creative atmosphere offered in the music city, Nashville, so I set-up this post as a metaphore representing the three parts of parts of a song, my Nashville song...
Verse: (My Story) It was my first time at a national conference and my first visit to the music hot spot destination Nashville. I flew in with my Clear Creek ISD library director, Suzy Ferrell, and met with Becky Calzada the library coordinator from Leander, ISD upon arrival. Biscuits are a delicacy in Texas; therefore, Biscuit Love was a logical first stop once our plane landed. There was a line to get in, and there was a line wrapped around the building when we left. We had a moment of silence as we enjoyed our first Bonughts, biscuits fried like doughnuts.
Then we enjoyed the sites of Opryland and the interactive Musicican's Hall of Fame.

The rest of the trip was spent sharing and participating in the SLJ Leadership Summit: Confronting Our Literacy Crisis. My main goals for the conference were to deliver a decent keynote speech as the 2017 SLJ Librarian of Year, gather solutions to build a culture of readers on my campus, and network.

The networking began right away meeting Becky Calzada the first day, and discussing future library projects as we toured Nashville. I meet several library heroes such Joyce Valenza, Shannon Miller, and Carolyn Foote.

It was also a treat to hear John Green speak as our keynote speaker on Saturday. On Friday we toured several schools, and I was able to network with librarians from across the country. It's important to attend national conferences to connect and network with other librarians across the country. We are stronger together. Budget permitting, I want to plan on attending a national conference at least every other year.

 After networking with Kristina Holzweiss and visiting her makerspace she set-up for participants, I gathered strategies to build a reading culture on my campus. I plan to offer every staff member a laminated piece of tag board paper that has their name, and a space to write the book they are currently reading. They can place the paper where students can see it, so we can build a reading environment. In our campus newsletter I'll offer a link to a Flipgrid prompt where students can talk about the books they are reading. After the conference, I collaborated with one of my parent volunteers, Liz Lowe. We put together a "Caught Reading Program" for our students. Every staff member will be given 10 "Caught Reading" coupons to give to students as they are "Caught Reading" the student can fill out the coupon listing their name, grade level, and homeroom. The coupon states they can turn the coupon into the library for a bookmark. I will put the completed coupons on display, and invite teachers to bring pictures of themselves reading outside of school. I will have these pictures on display with the coupons, so students can see teachers are readers, and we don't live at the school. Here's a great post from the SLJ Summit that offers several ways to build the reading culture on a campus.

Sunday morning the last day of the conference arrived, and it was my turn to offer a keynote speech. I just wanted to offer a speech of encouragement, inspiration, and  share my story. But, more than anything I wanted to get through the speech without coughing, sneezing, or loosing my voice, since I was getting over a bonchitis infection. Suzy Ferrell video tapped the speech. There was a Power Point presented as I spoke, but it's not seen in the video. 

Refrain: (idea repeated though out conference) Librarians play a big roll in providing the solutions to end the literacy crisis.

Chorus: (thoughts that occured in intervals) Collaboration and library leadership are key ingredients to  My Nashville  song inspired by the  SLJ Leadership summit.

"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear..."

Shakespeare, William. "A Midsummer Night's Dream." A Midsummer Night's Dream:

I know I'm not a song writer, but I had fun creating this post!