If you’ve been following what I’ve written here on AASL Knowledge Quest and on Renovated Learning, you know that this year I’ve moved to a new-to-me school, an independent 6-12. I wrote earlier about slow change and figuring things out gradually. I’m trying not to rush to create a new program without consideration. It is certainly a process; if you haven’t changed schools in a long time (or ever) it’s easy to forget how much time it takes to develop a new program.
One thing my new school didn’t have when I started was a makerspace. We did have a newly created Virtual Reality Lab (with a 3D printer) in the library, but there had not been any maker culture in the library before. It’s been a traditional study hall environment, so I knew it would take some time to make the shift to a maker environment. Due to current school policies, I also knew that we couldn’t really do much making during the school day. I could have students come in to use the VR lab, but that was it. So this semester, I initiated an afterschool Maker Mondays program.
Starting Maker Mondays
For our Maker Monday structure, I decided it would be best to have a variety of focused sessions. We’ve had a couple open maker sessions after the first few. This is a pretty new concept to most of my students, so bringing kids in and telling them to “go make stuff” won’t result in much yet. I’ve focused mostly on activities that I already have supplies for or that I could purchase affordably.
Some of our first few sessions have been:
- Intro to Virtual Reality
- Intro to 3D Printing
- Recycled Book Art
- littleBits Tinkering
- School ends at 3:30 but teachers are paid till 4:30 so that they can offer afterschool help to students. This takes care of any concerns about compensation or overworking–I’m already there anyway
- We are a Google school, so almost all of my communication with students about Maker Mondays is through school e-mail. I also make announcements at our weekly assemblies.
- My budget had a lot of flexibility and I have control over it. I’ve used that to purchase basic supplies that I didn’t already have (arts and crafts materials, storage bins, etc). For larger maker purchases in the future, I’ll probably need to put together a proposal with a request for additional funds.
- For the first five Maker Mondays I’ve had attendance ranging from two students to ten students, 6th grade through 11th grade. There’s a core group of about five who show up every time.
- In general, I do a brief introduction related to the topic. The students then have the rest of the time available to explore the topic and work on projects.
So far, my students are loving it, especially the middle schoolers. I think it’s a great start to our maker program and I’m excited to see how it will grow from here.
Author: Diana Rendina
Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory, an independent 6-12 school. She was previously the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog RenovatedLearning.com & is also a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and learning space design and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace and is the author of Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.