Library Media Specialist, Author, Educational Consultant
So the first section of my framework is about Mobility. Does the product support free-range learning and liberate learners from the limitations of a physical Makerspace, therefore increasing equity and access? Mobile technologies can liberate learners from the limitations of a physical Makerspace, so you should build an environment and include resources that encourage tinkering, play, and open-ended exploration for everyone.
Allows for Open-Ended Exploration
The next section of my framework echoes a piece of my definition of a makerspace, the importance of Open-Ended Exploration. Our students have opportunities to follow directions and make things all of the time, but what differentiates your makerspace experience from those, is the opportunities for students to take control of their own learning. So when choosing products for your makerspace, you need to ask yourself, is the product limited to step-by-step directions, or does it maximize inquiry by allowing the opportunity for open-ended exploration.
Knowledge of Student Needs, Wants & Interests
My Makerspace Planning Process, begins first and foremost with having Knowledge of Student Needs, Wants & Interests. So often I get asked the question, what should I buy that will get my students excited, or how do I know what to buy that my students will be interested in. My response is always ASK THEM! Take the time to understand your learners, to hear their voice and to connect your space and the products in it to the needs, wants and interests of your students.
Empowerment & Engagement.
The next step in the framework for selecting the right products for your makerspace is Empowerment & Engagement. In my makerspace, I have what are called fixed stations and flexible stations. The fixed stations are products, materials and activities that are out in my space at all times. The flexible stations are activities, resources, materials and supplies that rotate in and out of the space. This ensures that our makerspaces are inclusive, that they meet the needs of ALL of our learners, and help to build learner independence.
My Makerspace Planning Process allows you to connect your makerspace to your school community, as well as the wider world. When looking for products for my makerspace, I want to be sure that they have relevant connections to my school community, and the wider world. This is what is going to ensure that what the students learn, transcends your makerspace.
Learn how to plan, create and launch a unique, sustainable Makerspace for your school community.
Laura has been an educator in the state of New Jersey for 20 years. She has been both a classroom teacher and media specialist in grades K-8 and currently as a Library Media Specialist for grades 9-12. She has played a prominent role in education as a writer and speaker and has served as an educational consultant on Next Generation teaching standards and tools. Laura co-hosts the Movers & Makers Podcast, and is the author of the best-selling, Worlds of Learning: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School (Corwin, 2015).
Laura is also the creator of a digital badge-based professional development platform in which educators all over the world earn badges in acknowledgement of their professional learning. Her library Makerspace has garnered national attention and has served as an inspiration for schools across the country. She is also a recipient of the National School Boards ‘20 to Watch’ in Educational Technology Leadership for 2014 and was recently nominated as a White House Champion of Change for Making.
Laura is also the creator of the ‘Worlds of Making’ Digital Academy, which provides makerspace professional development for teachers. Her goal is to create learning experiences that empower and equip students with necessary skills to effectively produce and consume content across multiple media platforms. She is also driven to enable educators and cohorts in applying these innovative methods and cutting-edge technology in their fields of expertise. Laura is an educational consultant, thought leader and speaker on education, librarianship and technology.
“A Makerspace is a unique learning environment that encourages tinkering, play, and open-ended exploration for all.”
-Laura Fleming, Library Media Specialist, Author, Educational Consultant
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