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Makerspace at Camilla

Posted by maureenmcg Oct 29, 2016

What was your biggest “aha” moment?  Too many to mention---so much student engagement and enthusiasm-- am so grateful for all the support and direction from Mel and colleagues!

- What does making mean to you? Has your opinion changed? Was always a fan, but not an expert...still not, but that's okay!  I know way more now than I did before and that's what I want my students to experience!

- How will making impact your teaching practice? It will impact it daily, continuously . logistically, financially as we bring more and more staff members into the maker community

- What projected obstacles might you face? What is your plan for action? Time, space and money, as usual. Weeding, renovating, collaborating should do the trick...and lots of admin support!

- What burning questions do you still have? Some grade 8s who are new to this have a tough time exploring and thinking about what they are interested in while grade 6s just seem to dive right in. Can't help but wonder about the impact of our constant instruction on their independence? Can't wait to see the impact of this over time!

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I've been thinking a lot lately about how to meaningfully incorporate making into the curriculum. I've also been thinking about how to document learning, not only for myself, but provide ways for our students to make the learning process learning visible to themselves.

Burning questions I want to explore:

How can we facilitate opportunties for making across the curriculum?

How do we shift the focus from the product of making to emphasize the learning during theprocess of making?

How do we make thinking and learning visible not only to us, as facilitators but to the students we teach?

I have been fortunate enough to come across some great inspirations (These two  are mentoring me whether they know it or not :).

I stumbled across Angela Stockman's work recently - her website is phenomenal. She is the author of the book Make Writing and has also written some fabulous posts regarding pedagogical documentation in the makerspace.

Another one of my virtual mentors is Laura Fleming - a name that many might recognize. She co-wrote an article with Ross Cooper in September that has been churning around in my mind ever since; fuelling my desire to find relevant  and meaningful ways to get our students to actively
think about their thinking and make it visible.




I am writing all of this because I HAVE A PLAN (for our grade one students) ... and I don't know how and if  it will work.

Let's begin with the expectations.

Our grade ones are currently studying the seasons in Science. The expectations state that students will:

  • describe and compare the four seasons (e.g., in terms of amount of daylight, type of precipitation, temperature)
  • describe changes in the appearance or behaviour of living things that are adaptations to seasonal changes (e.g., in fall, some plants shed their leaves and some birds migrate; in winter some animals change colour)
  • describe how humans prepare for and/or respond to daily and seasonal changes


How can we help facilitate opportunties for making across the curriculum?


I will readily admit I spent a lot of time on the internet looking for things my students can make on a budget. I found  this post on wall art weaving and  immediately wondered: how could I modify it? How could I use the weaving as a provocation for writing across the curriculum? How could I use weaving as a provocation to get students tell a story of the seasons?
How could they weave their own story?

However, I still have questions. The video clip below has a teenage boy explaining why he likes weaving and what skills it helps instill.  However, he makes a valid point that if a student is not interested in weaving - he/she won't enjoy the activity if he/she is forced to do it.



If I use this activity with the whole class, yes they are making, but are they making in the true sense of a makerspace? A place that encourages open-ended, hands-on exploration based on student interest and passions? Or at this early point in the year is it ok to introduce all students to an activity to help build capacity and their skill sets so that there will come a point in time where we can say: "This is the problem/expectation? What tools will you use to show us what you know about the solution?"


Must there be a division between "making" across the curriculum and "makerpaces"? Ideally, I'd say there shouldn't be - but in the beginning of establishing a maker culture, I can't help but draw a chalk line because our students don't yet have the skill sets to know what they don't know.  I certainly don't want to "force" our students to do anything they don't want to do - but it is an experience I want all of them to TRY.


Then I wonder: am I wrong to want them to try weaving? :} I think in grade one, most would be open to this? What do you think?


How do we shift the focus from the product of making to emphasize the learning during the process of making?


How do we make thinking and learning visible not only to us, as facilitators but to the students we teach?


I made a sample weaving project of my own to see if it was feasible; re-mixing and modifying some of the make writing and pedagogical documentation ideas presented by Ross,  Laura and Angela.


Even though I did create a piece of work through weaving, I'd like to think that the woven structure is not the focus of my learning in the picture below. (Please also excuse the typo "of the trees" should read "OFF the trees")


Rather, the weaving serves as a provocation for my writing and my thought processes around my learning.

  • the section at the bottom is the my writing about the season of fall based on the weaving I created.
  • the speech bubbles represent my thinking about my learning process.


The reflection questions are not quite at the level of reflection as those posted by Laura and Ross, but they are a start - and something  we can certainly build on as the year progresses.IMG_1050.JPG




(I think I would get the students to answer two of a series of prompts and build from there - eventually moving into multi-media texts)

I think this is a very important step to take in order to make learning visible  in our classrooms. It is only when we make our students' learning visible that we can make informed choices of where we need to guide them next.

Last whole year I heard the word “Makerspace” so many times and every time I heard it, I wanted to learn about it but didn’t know when I will get a chance for that. Thanks to Twitter and a learner coach who twitted about this course and I grabbed the opportunity! I must say that I enjoyed learning from all the modules. I did some things that I always was reluctant to do and thought was not my cup of tea. My biggest “aha” moment was when I actually knitted following the videos.  Before this course, I was guessing that Makerspace must be something with making and building and must be something exciting. I am glad that my guess was right! I am looking forward to making a Maker station in our library commons and also share this learning with my colleagues and promote Makerspace for learning. Projected obstacles are funds, time and space. I will prepare a proposal for my administrator to have  Makerspace in our school explaining how it can impact learning , how it helps developing 21st century learning skills to our students and also some fundraising ideas to collect funds. In my role as a partner in action as a librarian, I will try to co-plan lessons which will include meaningful making and co-teach those lessons, thus promoting Makerspace.

I am so excited about all the things that I learned through all the resources and all the making activities that were planned for us.

Melanie it was a wonderful experience! The course was very well laid out and you made everything look so easy. I am looking forward to staying in touch and learning many more new things from such a maker expert like you. I thoroughly enjoyed learning with and from all the members our Makerspace learning community during the past two weeks!

Following is my collage that I made using studio application on my phone camera.


MakerSpace Module 10 Reflection

Posted by s_whit Aug 15, 2016

- What was your biggest “aha” moment?

My biggest 'aha' moment was the realization that I have a much greater comfort, capacity and excitement for the non-tech making activities. I could physically and mentally feel a difference in my connection to the different types of activities. My excitement and engagement and confidence levels were much higher for non-tech, but I will say, the high tech activities intrigued me and I see great value and merit. I recognize I need to explore more and not judge myself so hard or worry so much.


- What does making mean to you? Has your opinion changed?

To me making means finding self fulfillment and purpose in creating regardless of tools and/or platform. My opinion has changed greatly... Because of this course, I see that there is great value in creating... Creating benefits individual and society and directly contributes to the advancement of both self and society.


- How will making impact your teaching practice?

I've always had a hap-hazard, unstructured approach to making... I have promoted 'creating', but too loosely and too unstructured. I love how each module was presented in 'three part lesson' format. I will adopt this strategy in my classroom... Thank you for all the video links and amazing modelling.


- What projected obstacles might you face? What is your plan for action?

Obstacles = Time... Money... Focus...

Plan = One step at time... Ask families and School Council to donate... Be mindful of what my students and I are feeling and achieving.


- What burning questions do you still have?

Time, money, curricular connections. I found the pace intense. That said, I've been trying to read two separate books on mindset, set up my new classroom for my new teaching assignment, vacation (away part of the course) and complete as many modules as possible... Sometimes in a half committed manner, but I wanted a snapshot and taste of as many elements as possible. So I suppose my greatest question is:


My answer is:

I don't... Take one step at a time... And hope that the course remains on-line for a long time to come, because it is a treasure trove! Thanks so much Mel, fellow participants and TeachOntario!


Makerspace 101 Consolidation

Posted by gillianlr Aug 15, 2016

Okay, I found this course to be the best PD I have had. It was hands on and I learned so much with real resources I can use NOW. It was inspiring for me as a teacher but personally as well which really fuels the teaching fire. I cannot wait to bring this to the classroom and school. I have been having my own 'aha' moments as I learn how to code which I was so intimidated by. I like to think of myself as a life long learner but I certainly was holding myself back in a few of these areas. I can only hope some of my students feel untapped the way I have after these two weeks. THANK YOU, MEL!!!!

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Beyond the Snake..

Posted by mulcasterm Jul 22, 2016

I have always wanted to learn how to knit. Having a makerspace at our school only increased this desire to learn.


So I tried it. Um...yah....about that.....


I first tried knitting with needles. It took me a VERY long time to learn how to do this (like about 6 months) before I could knit with the right amount of tension and I didn't feel like my fingers were going to fall off because they hurt so much. Even then, I would drop stitches and my knitted square (because that's all I could do) looked like it had been through the zombie apocalypse. I felt dejected and like I couldn't do anything. I needed a confidence booster.


Enter...finger knitting!


Wow. What a great place to start to learn how to knit! And I could get it! It was also great for many of our students in our makerspace who really needed that assurance that they could succeed! (And that they could actually SEE something they produced in a 40 min lunch hour. Ever had the experience of knitting and unravelling, knitting and unravelling... and 2 hrs later you're at the same place you started, albeit a lot crankier?)


Let me tell you...I can finger knit a mean snake.



Once I mastered the simple cable - I became hooked. Finger knitting is actually quite relaxing when you get into it -  (wouldn't it be great to soothe anxieties and/or use for some of our students who always need to keep their hands busy?) and there are a tonne of books/videos you can access to make some pretty cute things!


This morning I decided to finger knit a winter hat (what else should you do on the hottest day of the year!?!). I've actually done this awhile back...and it is HARD!!! Basically,  you have to knit a cable that will fit around your head, then attach them together so they form a circle. Then you need to pick up a stitch from the circle to continue making a "hat form". I always ended up twisting the cable so that my hat wouldn't sit properly. This video explains it best....



While I tried about 10 times to get it right today (I felt like I was back to knitting with needles...knitting, unravelling, knitting, unravelling) I began to wonder what this would mean for my students and what kind of mindset we would have to facilitate when trying something like this. Certainly this was very frustrating - I needed to see and think carefully about what I was doing, what wasn't working and analyze what I really needed to do to MAKE it work (I did eventually, but I think it was pure luck). How could  I use this experience build grit and resiliency in our students? How would I have to preface it? How could I use the students to mentor each other (and me)? How could I get them to reflect on this experience in conversation with each other? And indeed if "literacy floats on a sea of talk" (James Britton) - how can I use this experience to enhance the literacy and digital literacy of my students? How could they write and produce media texts about this experience to convey their thinking?


Here is my shot at documenting my process - what could this mean for the literacy of our students given the opportunity to explore something they are excited about and successful at? This is meaningful making at its best! I'm really proud of what I did! Just take a look at what I did! I can even wear this hat!!! IN THE WINTER! IN A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! (Do you notice a theme here? ...I think I read too much YA fiction)



Sigh...I think it's about time I went back to knitting with needles. I need to build some more character. And some more videos.