New Page for Elementary Library Makerspace Resources! November 17, 2015Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Makerspace!.
Tags: makerspace, programs, resources
As the maker movement gains momentum and becomes more mainstream in education, there are more and more teacher-librarians who ask me where to find the best resources, and where to start.
So Colleen Graves and I have been collaborating on a page of Awesome Elementary Library Makerspace Resources, which is cross-posted on Colleen’s blog as well. (If you’re not following her, you should be!) It’s a work in progress, so expect some updates in the future as we add new resources and recommended materials.
Check it out, and feel free to offer suggestions in the comments!
Flash Freebie! Makerspace Prompt Task Cards October 6, 2015Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Fun Stuff, Makerspace!.
Tags: freebie, makerspace, Pinterest
When starting a makerspace, it’s sometimes helpful to start students off with some project ideas to get their creative juices flowing. Many students are so used to finding one “right” solution to a problem. Teaching students that some problems have many solutions and that finding those solutions might take some time…well, that’s a mindset and habit that often requires practice.
That’s where makerspace prompts can be used. The awesome Gary Stager recommends that prompts will ideally come from students’ curiosity, discoveries, exploration, and wonderings. He says if a teacher must design a prompt or challenge the prompt should keep these tips in mind:
1. Brevity. The best prompts fit on a Post-It! Note. They are clear, concise, and self-evident.
2. Ambiguity. The learner should be free to satisfy the prompt in their own voice, perhaps even employing strategies you never imagined.
3. Immunity to assessment…Students will want to do the best job possible when they care about their work and know that you put them ahead of a grade. If students are collaborating and regularly engaged in peer review or editing, then the judgment of an adult is really unnecessary.
Quoted from: Stager, G. S. (2012, June). A good prompt is worth 1,000 words. Retrieved from http://stager.tv/blog/?p=2779.
There are many ideas on Pinterest and social media for STEM and makerspace challenges/prompts, and I made a set of task cards based on some of them to jump-start students’ imaginations. As part of a flash freebie promotion on Facebook, my Makerspace Project Prompt Task Cards & Materials List is FREE in my TeachersPayTeachers Store for this week only!
It was Mrs J in the Library with a #TaskCard #FlashFreebie! http://bit.ly/1WA7dD7
Grab it while you can, and try it out! Also, if you have more prompt or challenge ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
What (Might) Work Wednesday: Back-to-School Edition September 30, 2015Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in How to Be Brave, Reflections, What Worked.
Tags: assessment, lessons, library centers, library management, makerspace
Welcome to a new school year!
School has been back in session for about a month in my area, and this year I’ve started a few new experiments/ideas that I’m hoping turn out well. Only time will tell…
1. Five book/item checkouts with student- and parent-signed agreement
Last year I required the form before any checkouts, and for some students that was very limiting to their access and use of the library’s resources. This year, if students don’t return their Library Use Agreement form, they still can check out 2 books, but no audiobooks or the wildly popular maker kits.
Using the form completion as an “upgrade” or extra privilege has been pretty effective in motivating both new and returning students, and I like that there is no barrier to checking out while still encouraging student responsibility and parent communication.
2. Library Facebook page in lieu of paper newsletters
While I did use a paper newsletter for the back-to-school newsletter, I planned ahead to include it in our school’s “packet pick-up” night so that parents received it with all of the other school forms. I’m not sure if parents are actually reading it, but the majority of the agreement forms were returned. I’m taking that as a good sign.
Our library Facebook page is what I’m using for my primary communication tool during the rest of the year. I post library and reading advocacy articles, as well as book recommendations and upcoming events. For more post ideas, check out my Library Website Social Media Pinterest board!
3. Research centers first, then free choice
Last year I required every student to complete 3 library “badges” in Research Skills, Reading Promotion, and Makerspace/Creation & Tech. This year, I’m trying something a bit more progressive and constructivist. When I introduce centers this fall, I will offer 6 research centers only at first. Then after students earn their Research Skills badge, they can have free-choice of reading and makerspace centers. They will be able to earn more badges, but the others won’t be required. I think it will be more of a challenge for me to engage all students, but once a student finds their passion, I think their engagement and learning will be more authentic.
4. New Student Learning Objective (SLO) assessment format
Like many librarians and teachers across the nation, a percentage of my evaluation is based on “data.” For music, gym, art, and library teachers like myself, 15% of my evaluation must be a student learning objective, or SLO, that proves with data that I assessed students in a particular skill.
For kindergarten, I’m changing how I assess the parts of a book, author & illustrator roles, and fiction vs. nonfiction. I made a FREE printable booklet that students can complete as an assessment of their knowledge. I’m going to try having students complete one page per week until everyone is finished, including “extra practice” pages for students to make-up incorrectly completed pages.
So what are the new ideas or experiments that you are trying this year?
I’d love to hear them, and I hope we can inspire each other!
PSLA 2015 “Make It @ Your Library” Presentation May 1, 2015Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Makerspace!, PSLA.
Tags: elementary school, library, makerspace, presentation, PSLA, school libraries
I’m honored to be presenting at the 2015 PA School Librarians Association Annual Conference about makerspaces in elementary and middle school libraries this afternoon. If you can’t make it to the conference (or you’re not from PA), my presentation is on Google Slides.
During my session, I’m also hosting a few giveaways for anyone who attends in person or online. You must be a PSLA member to enter the four giveaways below, however, you can win only one of them. I’ll post the winners on my Twitter account after my session today, so stay tuned!
What Worked Wednesday: Sugru + littleBits March 18, 2015Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Makerspace!, What Worked.
Tags: fixing, littleBits, makerspace, products
“What Worked Wednesday” is a blog post series about ideas that I have personally tried in my library and/or instruction. Each post includes an idea that worked in my school library and how it makes my life less stressful, more organized, and/or more manageable.
I’ve just discovered Sugru®, and it is AWESOME! Sugru® is a moldable putty that sticks to almost anything and dries into a silicone-based rubber. It’s tough, waterproof, and heat-tolerant. In other words, Sugru® makes things elementary kid-proof.
What I love most about it, however, is the philosophy of fixing and adapting anything to make it better, stronger, more personalized, or more useful. I’ve blogged before about how delicate some of the littleBits™ are, and how I’ve replaced several because of broken wires and loose parts. Well, I wish I had known about Sugru® when I bought my first set of littleBits™ back in 2013. A couple of hours and a $22 Sugru® multi-pack would have saved almost all the Bits I’ve replaced, and it would have paid for itself by now.
So today’s idea that worked:
Mold Sugru® around the wire connections and fragile parts of littleBits™ to reinforce the connections and prevent damage.
Four mini-packs of Sugru®, color-mixed to approximately match the Bit colors, were enough to wrap around all the wire connections and make our littleBits™ MUCH stronger!
How this idea saves money:
When combined with some beginner soldering, I fixed a littleBits™ fan, one of my proudest maker moments! That fix saved about me about $15. Additionally, I reinforced the connections on all of our wires, long LEDs, servo motors, light wires, a UV LED, a roller switch, another fan, and the last 2 original 9V battery cables. Sadly, I wasn’t able to salvage any of the vibration motors, so I’ll just need to buy new ones. When I do, though, you can bet that I’m going to encase the delicate wires and connections in Sugru®!
Overall, if you’re going to use littleBits™ with elementary students, I HIGHLY recommend Sugru® reinforcement. You will thank yourself later!