The Maker Movement is growing, and you’re probably already a part of it! While many educators are already engaging students in ways to participate, share and learn – MakerSpace provides a shift by empowering teachers with added tools for experimental play by building, creating and tinkering.
Kevin Amboe, former Elementary Information and Media Literacy Coordinator with SD36, Surrey, (presently Grade 6 Teacher at David Brankin Elementary), is a big supporter of MakerSpace and recently gave a MakerSpace presentation
at IL4K12 which was well attended. Amboe explains that it’s all about “empowering play”.
“Equipment that was purchased at year end last year is being used by teachers who are exploring the kits and creating their own learning paths for themselves, and their students,” notes Amboe. “We need to think how to use the equipment and tools innovatively in a way that creates play-based learning. That is where kids learning is at.”
The great thing about MakerSpace is that students can feel success quickly as it builds on trial and error. Making isn’t just physical but the act of creating. MakerSpaces are not based on physical space but rather on sharing the ideals of making, tinkering, collaborative learning and invention.
Through huge support on a district level, Amboe was able to work with an Information and Literacy Media team and Elisa Carlson to move this project forward and actually make MakerSpaces come to life. Mini Maker kits were created for the districts use. The kits proved to be extremely successful in the classroom with great student involvement.
“One of the kits that we provided featured the ‘Makey Makey’ which is a tool that turns the whole world into a keyboard. You can use your wildest imagination to turn everyday objects into touch pads and combine them with the internet,” explains Amboe. “A perfect example is to hook up the Makey Makey to something fun, like bananas, and then instead of using the computer keyboard buttons to play a piano program, your bananas become the piano keys!”
Amboe also uses fantastic apps like Explain Everything, and is a huge believer in using a digital camera (or camera built into an iDevice) so that students can talk to the photos. For instance, a hesitant writer who writes 30 words in an hour, can now write it into a comic book, and add photos, making the 30 words more meaningful.
Another great benefit of MakerSpace is that it provides students with hands on options to explore, helping to alleviate language and cultural barriers. It keeps their thinking engaged and takes it to a deeper level.
“While I’m reading a story in MakerSpace, I’ll have the kids demonstrate their learning in a non-text way,” notes Amboe. “I’ll get everything from sculptures made with play dough to Paper Mache space shuttles with working lights and landing gear! It’s really quite amazing. It allows the inquiry mindset and empowers them. Just play, and they can learn along the way.”
Failure is also a large part of the learning and Amboe likes to view ‘FAIL’ as ‘First Attempt In Learning’.
“I want kids to stop worrying about making mistakes. I want them to struggle and figure it out on their own,” notes Amboe. “The frustration is part of it. They have to work through the obstacle to find a solution and the kits are designed to easily connect to new possibilities.”
While playing and creating, the students explain what they’ve done and the learning continues as they tweak and change things as they go. They find out what to do differently to get things working. Video snippets are also taken of the individual students and uploaded into their personal portfolios. This allows for the parents to also see their progress and builds in oral fluency.
Amboe sums it up perfectly by adding, “You can do so many different things when you learn to think differently”.
Find out more about Kevin Amboe here
, and click on this Maker Space link
for more resources and information, including a Maker Space kit resource list from Surrey.