Starting a Library Makerspace


Today’s Contributor: Elizabeth Mikeska

My name is Elizabeth Mikeska. I am the librarian at Wooldridge Elementary. After being a bilingual classroom teacher for ten years, I made the leap to the library, and have been happily reading, creating, and redefining what an elementary school librarian’s role looks like for the past six years. Here’s a link to our library makerspace blog.


Starting a Library Makerspace

I knew that I wanted to encourage my students to be creative and to learn how to be better problem-solvers, especially when I noticed that many of my students would freeze when they didn’t know the answer to a question. Instead of trying different things to answer, they would just wait for me or their teachers to prompt or give a response. I wanted to give them the power that comes with figuring things out on your own–even if that meant making a mess in the process!

I started by incorporating opportunities to create artifacts that went with stories we read–we used recycled materials, Legos, and drawing at first. I then added design challenges that pushed students to really think about a problem and dig deep to try and solve it.

After Hurricane Harvey, we brainstormed inventions that could be used to help the victims. Students went through the design process and came up with some amazing ideas, and then built prototypes of their inventions. This type of activity stretches students and puts them in control of their own learning.

Just as my students were challenging themselves, I, too, needed to take more risks and incorporate different types of technology into my lessons–even if I had to learn along with the kids. The past couple of years I have acquired more technology and tools that have taken our makerspace to the next level, but with that innovation and change has come some fear of the unknown. The thing that has helped me take risks and keep trying new things has been a solid group of teachers willing to collaborate with me in this endeavor. When the students see us working together, it encourages them to do the same. They also see us fail, go back to the drawing board, and try again!

Incorporating a makerspace into a classroom or library isn’t about the fancy tools or materials. It really is about a mindset that allows students to take control of their learning through inquiry and learning from their mistakes. I’m excited to keep taking risks and getting out my comfort zone as an educator so that I can inspire my students to do the same!

 

1 Comment

  1. I really want to schedule a visit to your makerspace while it’s in full swing. You are so inspiring!

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