Tag Archives: Makerspaces

Setting behavioral expectations in a makerspace


2 ways to bring in transferable skills

makerspaces and project-based learningMakerspaces are amazing. They’re a big carnival of lights and sounds and glue and lasers, arduinos, controllers and 3D, oh my. They’re a beloved opportunity for students to get hands-on with their learning, a place where they can get up out of theirs seats and go make all the wondrous machines and capers in their imaginations come to life.

And that makes them both shiny possibilities and potential pitfalls.

Just like the proverbial kid in a candy store, students in a makerspace need guidance and boundaries, so no one gives themselves an upset stomach from eating all the papercrafts.

(You know what I mean).

Giving students boundaries and setting up behavioral expectations for using the makerspace not only keeps students safe, it empowers them in developing self-direction and agency. So here are two strategies I’ve seen work in setting behavioral expectations in a makerspace.

1. Project Roles

Group work can feel a little awkward in the middle grades, as everyone brims with ideas but no one knows what exactly to do with their hands. Introducing roles for project work gives students specific direction for how to contribute effectively.

One educator I know created specific well-defined roles for groups as they undertook project-based learning. There were roles such as:

  • Project Lead
  • Note-taker
  • Norms-checker
  • Documentary Filmmaker

The responsibilities of each role were clearly laid out in rubrics made available via Google Docs. And each time a new project began, students were encouraged to take on a different role from their previous one.

But even before determining project roles:

I would have the class come up with a list of guidelines they should follow when working collaboratively, as well as some behavior expectation regarding working in the makerspace.

setting behavioral expectations in a makerspace

More about Team Roles

Here’s a Padlet Proctor Elementary School’s Courtney Smith created regarding the team roles. Sometimes there are groups of just three, but I wouldn’t do more than four per group though. This one has four roles, but I think that Task Manager and Recorder/Reporter can be combined.

Made with Padlet


2. Project Planning & Review

Another educator produced project planning documents that students filled out before jumping into the hands-on portion of making. Students wrote about:

  • what they hoped to build;
  • which materials they needed;
  • the steps they were planning to take, and
  • how they would know their project was successful.

The planning rubrics were again given to students as Google Docs, and they turned their finished drafts in to the educator as part of their Google Classroom work. The educator, in turn, reviewed each plan and provided valuable feedback, as well as encouraging students to examine additional considerations. As students worked through the making process, they had that planning rubric — a type of contract between maker and educator — to refer to for guidance.

This approach had the added bonus of giving students who had completed a round of projects the opportunity to provide guidance to new makers, based on their experience.

Check out this document for how we approached the first couple of days with 7th and 8th graders in a Genius block.

setting behavioral expectations in a makerspace


How have you set behavioral expectations in your makerspace?

How to build up STEAM

Making time for making at Ottauquechee

makerspaces and project-based learningSTEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics — gives students the opportunity to create. To make. Maybe to fail. To try again! And to make something that improves a condition, solves a problem, or makes the world a better place. But if your school currently doesn’t offer a STEAM time, it can be daunting to figure out where to begin. And that’s where we pick up our story of Ottauquechee School, in Quechee VT, where we used Design Thinking, a portable makerspace and one amazing library space to figure out how STEAM Time could work at this school.

Welcome to Ottauquechee STEAM Time.

Continue reading How to build up STEAM

Making as evidence of self-direction

The Maker Movement & Transferable Skills, Part 2

makerspaces and project-based learningWe’re looking at how maker-centered learning provides opportunities for students to develop the Vermont Agency of Education’s five Transferable Skills, starting with Clear and Effective Communication.

Today we continue our series with more examples. Our mobile making lab’s visits brought forth evidence of students taking charge of their learning. Students became more and more self-directed as their capacity and confidence around making grew. This was particularly evident during EMMA’s visits to the so-called “Northeast Kingdom,” the most rural area of Vermont.

Continue reading Making as evidence of self-direction

4 ideas for using a makerspace to support PBL

How do project-based learning and makerspaces fit together?

makerspaces and project-based learningMaking and PBL may look like two completely different educational movements, but in reality they work well together and each strengthens the other.

That’s because they share a common fundamental underpinning: they honor students’ innate curiosity about the world.

Continue reading 4 ideas for using a makerspace to support PBL

Making even more of “Beyond Bling”

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonA couple of weeks ago, Lucie deLaBruere of Learning with Lucie shared a post considering how we can embrace the emerging interest in Makerspace learning to move “Beyond Bling.” This post ignited my thinking about this type of learning in a number of different ways. I thought I’d take today to explore some of those thoughts in a commentary about the ideas in the post. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to go back and check it out. Once you have done that, I think you might be interested in further considerations of complex problems, project-based learning, and constructionism as a learning philosophy. Continue reading Making even more of “Beyond Bling”

Beyond Bling: how do we deepen Makerspace learning?

How do we move all new learners to the deep end of the pool?

how do we deepen Makerspace learning?
Photo by Cecilia Denhard. CC 2.0

As I walked through an innovation showcase at SxSw 2015 (one of the the largest convergences of creative and critical thinkers last March) I was struck by the juxtaposition of two tables that were adjacent to each other.

One offered “Creative Circuit kits provide girls with all of the materials to make 10+ arts, crafts, and fashion projects with technology” the other offered “opportunities for students to replicate experiments you perform in your classrooms using an Arduino kit and a sensor kit on a nano-satellite via Nasa’s CubeSat Launch Initiatives.”

As a long time advocate for initiatives that increase the confidence and skills of girls with technology, I appreciate that the “creative circuit kit” might provide a great opportunity to engage girls with technology, but I find myself concerned that it would be easy to gain a false sense of accomplishment if we don’t move beyond ‘bling’.

I find myself wondering what are the steps that connect the excitement from “blink blink” to the curiosity that leaves you wondering “what type of sensor do I need to create an experiment that I can test in space?”

Continue reading Beyond Bling: how do we deepen Makerspace learning?