There’s so many amazing books coming out now related to starting a school makerspace, and many of them are fantastic. But for this post, I want to take a look back and focus on the five books that had the biggest impact on me as I was planning and creating my makerspace at Stewart Middle Magnet School. This was back in late 2013/early 2014, when there wasn’t a ton of stuff out there that specifically focused on school makerspaces. Even without a direct focus on library makerspaces, these books still had a profound impact in shaping my thinking about creating an innovative, playful learning environment.
Maybe this one is obvious, but it still has to be here. My copy of this book is heavily highlighted, dog-eared and sticky noted (and signed by both authors!). If you only have time to read one book on the Maker Education Movement, this should be the book. Martinez and Stager do an amazing job of covering everything from the history of making in the classroom to practical ways to incorporate making in everyday instruction. They help you to critically think about what types of projects kids will make and how to make them more effective and creative – no 24 birdhouses that look exactly the same here. There are ideas for how to help students with project design, prompts to get them thinking, creating a physical space conducive to making, etc. There are fabulous lists of resources to check out and supplies to consider. The section on advocacy and research is an excellent resource for grant-writing.
This book comes from The Exploratorium, an amazing hands-on science museum in San Francisco. They created a makerspace for their patrons called The Tinkering Studio and they also run a fantastic MOOC every summer.
The Art of Tinkering looks at over 150 different artists and makers and how they weave science and technology into their work. It’s a beautifully designed and inspiring work that clearly demonstrates the important part that art, whimsy and creativity play in making. Each chapter focuses on a different technique, from aerial photography to cardboard automata to wearable circuits to toy take apart. The chapters each feature an artist or professional who uses that technique in their work, with an intimate look into their design processes, studios and tools. The chapters then follow up with step-by-step instructions for a DIY activity, which are often excellent for maker stations. I’m eager to try out the DIY wind tunnel and the marble run with my students.
When I was getting started with Makerspaces, I kept hearing over and over again that I needed to read this book. It focuses more on the learning environment as a whole rather than just on makerspaces, but there’s lot of amazing ideas for creating spaces that inspire creativity.
At first, it took me a bit to get used to the design of the book. There’s a lot of different typefaces, pages of nothing but quotes, and articles that get interrupted by shorter pieces. But once I was able to get into the flow of the book, I loved it! It was such a wonderful reaffirmation for me on the importance of creating physical spaces that are conducive to learning, of taking care of the health of our students through things like clean air and good food, of creating opportunities for students to be exposed to nature. Over and over, The Third Teacher emphasizes that our learning spaces need to change to reflect the way that students learn today. Rows and rows of desks set up as a lecture theater are not helping our students to learn and grow. We need to be willing to invest time and money to create spaces where students can develop the skills they will need to become productive citizens: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, inquisitivenss. See more of my review of this book on Renovated Learning.
This book is a phenomenal look at how design and creativity are essential for success with today’s students. Each chapter had a different author and focused on a different aspect. At the front and center of much of the book was the Maker Movement and Maker Education. I think this book would be great both for those who are already in deep with the Maker movement and those who are just getting started.
Several chapters offer wonderful anecdotal examples of what is going on in the Maker/design/STEAM world of education. From museums with makerspaces, to science-y fun block parties in NYC, to tools like Squishy circuits, Scratch coding and MaKey MaKey. The final chapter helps to give a vision of what this can look like in actual schools, by telling the inspiring story of Manor New Technology High School in Texas. All in all, this is an amazing book, and definitely worth the read by anyone in education who thinks that we need more creativity and play in our education system.
This book, created by the Stanford d.school, is an amazing source of design inspiration. While it tends to be geared more towards open office spaces and college environments, there’s plenty of ideas and resources for educators as well. Make Space tells the d.school’s story – it’s need for flexibility and economy when being shuffled all over campus, what worked and didn’t work for their collaborative spaces, and how they finally figured out how to get it right.
Interspersed throughout the book are projects and action steps that you can take to immediately change your space. There’s so many practical ideas, and the stories throughout the book give you a better sense of what students need in collaborative spaces, even if they don’t know it themselves. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to change up their learning or work space.