Week 4 Blog Post

What is the pedagogy behind a Maker Space?  What are its benefits to students?

Maker Spaces do not a have universal design or definition. Essentially, what they are are places where the tools and space to create or make things are available.  Additionally they are places where people can work together, collaborate and share ideas and knowledge (Eudcause, 2013).  The pedagogy behind the use of maker spaces is fairly vague.  Because the construction of a maker spaces is so flexible, its application in classrooms will vary widely.  One clear connection the Maker Spaces have to pedagogies and movements that are already taking place in schools across the country is with STEM (Catalano, 2013).  The act of making is inherently engineering (the E in STEM) and making will invariably involve some aspects of science and, if the resources are available, technology as well (the S and T of STEM respectively).  Some teachers use Maker Spaces to have students create intentionally designed projects, some that could apply to either standards or expected outcomes of students in other subjects, while some teachers are simply giving students the opportunity to create and use their imaginations to figure out what to make (Krueger, 2014).

Maker Spaces also give students the opportunity to develop and fine tune their technological skills, in a productive way.  Technology becomes more significant with each day that passes and students will surely need dexterous technological skills to be successful in the future.  Maker Spaces allow students to develop these vital skills in a productive and practical way at school, rather than just by playing video games or surfing the internet at home in their free time.  Additionally, while developing fluency with technology, students will also be able to develop communication skills while working with others, critical thinking and problems solving.

While the definition and application of Maker Spaces is harder to nail down, the benefits a Maker Space has for students is much more clear.  First and foremost, Maker Spaces give students a safe place to be creative and use their imagination.  Students also learn to take control and ownership of their own learning, especially if they are given the opportunity to make anything they like (Eudcause, 2013).  It also teachers students to value the process of making something, over the product and teacher them to be creators rather than consumers (Catalano, 2013, Krueger, 2014).  Maker Spaces also give kinesthetic learners direct access to their best method of learning.  And although less important to educational legislators, but definitely important to teachers and their students, students enjoy using the Maker Spaces and making things and have fun doing so.  In the youtube video that showed students from Camelot Elementary School, all the students in the video seemed very engaged and interested in their work, and more so they were proud of what they had created and enjoyed doing it.

Also, just to share, I found this great resource that has Maker Kits available for sale.  I know that when it come to things like this, I always need a guideline or a starting point and this site has some great ideas of kits for kids!  http://www.makershed.com/collections/beginner

7 things you should know about makerspaces. (2013, April 1). Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7095.pdf

Catalano, F. (2013, February 12). Want to Start a Makerspace at School? Tips to Get Started. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/02/12/want-to-start-a-makerspace-at-school-tips-to-get-started/

Krueger, N. (2014, June 21). Create a school makerspace in 3 simple steps. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=103&category=ISTE-Connects-blog&article=Create-a-school-makerspace-in-3-simple-steps

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7 thoughts on “Week 4 Blog Post

  1. The video you posted is very helpful. I love that their makerspace is in a library. I have some students who love technology but are reluctant readers or have even said they don’t like it (gasp!). I think if a makerspace was set up in the library, it could work a little reverse psychology on the students. 🙂 They will love going to the library to tinker and may eventually love reading….maybe. 🙂

    Your comment that technology becomes more significant with teach passing day is something I connected with on a more personal level. My parents have never had a cell phone. When they finally purchased one, its only use was for travel. At all other times, the phone is in a drawer and off. Recently my parents were taking separate trips so it was hard for them to communicate with each other. To solve this problem, my father went and purchased an iPhone. Their previous phone (now my mom’s) is a flip phone and ‘dumb phone’ as they call it, so it was a surprise. It’s interesting for me to see how technology is growing, in that respect.

    This situation made me pause and wonder if I might need to start worrying about trying to incorporate lessons using cell phones for my younger students. Currently, none of my students has a cell phone….that I know about. However, when I was in school, middle school students didn’t have phones. I paused in amazement of how far technology has come recently and all the emerging developments happening. Your statement is true…technology does become more significant each day and I’m excited to see where it continues to take us.

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    • Maggie, your comment about libraries resonates with a lot of the research I read! In fact the article by Catalano was written about a Makerspace convention at the American Libraries Association! Librarians are looking to incorporate Makerspaces to encourage students, teens in particular to visit libraries!

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  2. Tristan says:

    I like the fact that makerspaces help prepare students for the future in an educational and beneficial way. I read so many comments from people on facebook or just on articles on the internet that say they weren’t ready for college once they graduated high school. I think a lot of the old school teachers don’t take the time to make sure the students are being prepared for the future because they are too “scared” to learn the new technology. It is our job to help students be prepared for the future and I feel like with makerspaces, teachers don’t need to know a lot of the technology, they just have to supply the tools and helps students come up with good key words to put into Google to help them find answers. In my mind it makes it a lot simpler for those teachers that are older and don’t really understand technology, but maybe I’m all wrong, just my thoughts for the night. Enjoyed your blog!

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    • Thank you Tristan. I agree with your thoughts. just like with open online courses teachers are no longer required to be experts in the subject. It would be absurd to require teachers to be technological experts as well as teachers anyway. I think that providing the resources and framework and facilitating the process is much more important. This is a great opportunity for teachers to learn along side students.

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  3. Great blog. I’ll start right off with a question about how teachers grade maker space learning environments? I suppose you need a rubric for the end product and a way to hold students accountable along the way… so they are not “working” on a project all semester and have nothing to show… Are we expecting an end product?

    Also, do you see the pedagogy of maker spaces to be an all or nothing approach for teachers? Would teachers be able to blend this approach more traditional methods?

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    • Oh man that’s always a tough one, grading the process and product. A rubric of the process as well as final product would be best I think. And as I tried to imagine having a Makerspace in my classroom, I think, at least to start off, I would have to use it as a station or center to complement our traditional learning methods. I don’t think the students, myself or the school would be ready for a complete change yet. It would be a great way to at least expose my students to the imagination and creativity they have inside themselves and hopefully they can take that with them when they leave the Makerspace.

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  4. Great blog! I agree that makerspace is a huge part of stem, but I agree more that sometimes kids just need to make. Tinker toys, erector sets, lincoln logs and legos were the idea creator back in the day. We just made things as kids. That took imagination and thought, I think that lacks today in our society. I remember wanting to go to Radio Shack to see the electronic kits, I made me want to build things. I think the idea of it in school can go beyond STEM and into the realm of just creating, which is what kids need to be able to write a good paper today.

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