An amazing makeover took place in my library this month. We transformed our library’s “Quiet Room,” a small space used occasionally for small meetings and individual testing into a makerspace, reclaiming it for student exploration and creativity. The inspiration came from spacemakers Kristina Holzweiss and Gina Seymour who spoke at a meeting of librarians at our local BOCES in December.
Having spent the last penny of my budget earlier in the school year, the contents of our makerspace this year relies heavily on the contents of my craft closet at home. We have sewing materials, yarn, glue guns, beads, art supplies, and recycled materials such as cardboard and bottle caps. I also had access to Snap Circuits and several building kits my sons were willing to contribute. Our library already owned Flip video cameras, microphones, and laptops so we were able to add some tech to the mix. In the future I hope to offer more technology.
Just as we opened the makerspace, an English teacher approached me about working with his class on a poetry project. Serendipitously, this project happened to involve making dolls to represent the poems’ themes. Bingo! Our first makerspace project was born. The room was packed from the start with students constructing their dolls. Now that this assignment is finished we are just beginning to dream up new ways students can use the makerspace. The possibilities seem endless and I’m so excited to see where this journey takes us!
Gently Down the S.T.R.E.A.M. - Using Research and Making to Inspire Innovation and Creativity! Guest post by Barbara Johnson, Library Media Specialist at Jack Jackter Intermediate School.
School Libraries Work! (2016) by Scholastic, I read it right after my trip to AASL in Columbus, OH in November. IT FIRED ME UP! You can find it here if you haven't read it yet:
http://www.scholastic.com/SLW2016/index.htm. I was already excited to share, collaborate and inspire from my experience in Ohio. I came home ready to put the kids in charge, empower them, and let them drive! BUT, then I saw the data Scholastic had gathered, it was astounding, “75% [of students] have no idea how to locate articles and resources they need for their research. 60% don’t verify the accuracy or reliability of the information they find. [and] 44% do not know how to integrate knowledge from different sources.”(2)
Well, there were my Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) for the year! But how do I do this if I am supposed to let the kids drive? Enter the STREAM, the evolution of adding research (reading) and arts to the STEM program: https://www.impactoneducation.org/programs-for-students/s-t-r-e-a-m/. With this program, I could design student centered research projects, connecting them to both Science and Social Studies curricular topics, but then hand over the reigns of the project to the students. I created materials (graphic organizers) to guide the students to better research techniques (scholarly sources, accurate information, and MLA citations), I curated digital tools (BrainPop/Gizmo/Tinker-Ball) to create an engaging introduction, and then started collecting recycled materials to stock up the Makerspace students would be using to create.
Did I mention my kids are aged 8-10? Grades 3-5. So, when I looked at their SCIENCE curriculum, Grade 5 was getting ready to study Sound and Light, Grade 4: Properties of Liquids, and Grade 3: Simple Machines. PERFECT! Our district adopted the Stripling Model of Inquiry about 5 years ago because it seemed to connect to all grade levels with it’s W.I.C(S).E.R acronym. Wonder, Investigate, Construct/Synthesize, Express and Reflect is prominently displayed on the wall in each library, and taught in grades K-2. By the time the kids come to me, they are familiar with both terms and process. I can concentrate on the resources. The librarians of Colchester do this with fixed library lessons, now called Information Literacy. We collaborate with a Technology Specialist (which I used to be) and the other building Specialists (Music, Art and PE) to integrate and achieve STREAM. We are also fortunate to share the class schedule with the Tech Specialist so that we both have fixed classes, Genius Blocks, Collaborative Blocks and planning.
Building the Grade 5 lesson with my team, we considered:
CONNECT: Students were challenged with a mystery tune (Twinkle, Twinkle..but shhh, don’t let it get out) They were provided a table of materials, water, and an iPad. Materials included: glasses, cans, cups, pencils, pens, and paper. They were given a graphic organizer to plan out their strategy, and also record what happened. Off they went! So engaged, and PRODUCTIVE! Small groups worked together to figure out the tune, recreate it with the materials, and then document their work with the iPad, photo or video. (42 minutes or one class period)
WONDER: Students explore an interactive game on BrainPop Jr., and a quick video about sound. With their background knowledge filled in, students were given a graphic organizer to record the instrument they were curious about, and their findings. I made sure to include a place for a citation, and annotation (remember we want kids to use scholarly resources and cite them!) (42 minutes or one class period)
INVESTIGATE: students explore digital, print, and video resources. MUCH OF MY TIME is spent guiding students to understand the importance of using J.U.N.K (okay I made this up):
SYNTHESIZE/CONSTRUCT: Time to put together the pieces! Figuratively in this step. Students use their findings to sketch, plan or design a way to replicate the instrument they have just studied. I gave my students some choices here too! Students can go low-tech with pencil and paper, mid-tech with a Google Drawing, or high-tech with TinkerCad (3D design and printing)
Students created a sketch, used text boxes to describe what they were using and how the pieces and parts helped to make and/or change the instruments sound (remember those essential questions?) (42 minutes or one class period)
EXPRESS: LET THE FUN BEGIN! Student brought in recycled materials the thought they would need to build their instrument. There are no rules here but one, CAN’T BUY ANYTHING! We let them have the run of the library space here, just monitoring for kids who needed help. I did bring in my “big girl scissors”, hammer and hot glue sticks. I just got to walk around, poking holes in stuff or cutting plastic bottles in half. SO MUCH FUN to just let the time develop into what it will. The hardest part for kids, stopping. We had a bit of clean-up so we would stop after about 35 minutes of building. They were so upset, would have loved a 90 minute block, just to let them go...but 42 minutes it is! (84 minutes or two class periods)
REFLECTION: This is both for the students and me. Did they learn anything? Students are equipped with their instrument, their graphic organizers and their sketches. They are given a rubric for the project, and asked to self-evaluate. The rubric asks them to evaluate the quality of their findings, and their involvement. I use their work, their self-evaluation, and some video, to fill out the rubric myself and come up with a “grade” 1,2,3 or 4, which is what we use on our report cards (rubric is aligned to this scale)
Time to find another topic!
SCHOOL LIBRARIES WORK! A Compendium of Research Supporting the Effectiveness of School Libraries. New York: Scholastic, 2016. PDF.
"STREAM." Impact on Education. Boulder Valley Schools, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
LOOKING UP AT THE STARS IN THE LIBRARY - GUEST POST BY Jennifer L. Freedman, SCHOOL LIBRARY MEDIA SPECIALIST
The library world is ever changing. It’s a wonderful thing. And the best part? Librarians have the power to mold it into whatever they want. Personal computers? No problem. Internet? Got it covered. Social networking? Under control. Broadcast studio? Sure thing. Planetarium? Give me a week.
Wait, what? Yes, I am fortunate enough to have a planetarium adjacent to my library and at the first opportunity to run it, I jumped. I have never run a planetarium before and other than Astronomy 101 & 102 in community college many long forgotten years ago, I know little about the universe. But there was no way that was going to stop me. I spent hours learning how to use the technology and even more time figuring out ways to incorporate into the curriculum. My first venture was a lesson on Greek Mythology and Constellation Origins with an ELA teachers. The students loved it. The teacher loved it. I loved it. Four more teachers booked the lesson with me the very next day. Next up, the music and math departments.
Being a librarian is like having an open door to opportunity. Sometimes opportunity walks right in. Most of the time, we have to go out and find it. Nobody came to me and asked me to incorporate the planetarium into their lessons. I went out and found them. Over the years, I have learned which teachers will allow me to experiment with their classes and which are happy to stay away. Every school librarian should know this. I seek out new challenges on a daily basis. I do not allow myself to get content in what I am doing because positive change in my world means positive change for the teachers and students. And I never, never turn down a challenge. Even when I know it’s something I can’t personally tackle, I will find a solution. Because even just pointing someone in the right direction or giving them an alternative plan is saying “yes, I can help you.”
Like a chameleon, I change my colors to fit into any situation.
But I do not use my ability to blend as an excuse to hide. I am out there. In everyone’s face. Always. Brining in new ideas or sharing a resources or inviting them to a new event. Some may find me annoying but for most I have become a valuable resource. Someone whom my school needs.
Kristina A. Holzweiss
Ed Tech School Librarian