makerspace ed

12 lessons from a year in a makerspace

More than a passing trend, the makerspace holds tons of potential for teachers and students

When Connecticut’s New Canaan High School said goodbye to students in the summer of 2015, it said hello to an ambitious new project: boxing up 7,000 books to make room for a brand-new makerspace to encourage students’ creative thinking, problem-solving and self-directed learning.

When the school’s new principal asked what library media specialists were doing with all the library’s books, and inquired about a makerspace, head librarian Michelle Luhtala knew she had a chance to do something unique with the library’s learning environment.

“Kids just come in and make what they want,” Luhtala said. “That’s the thing that is so much fun.”

As the year progressed, so too did the makerspace’s purpose.

Teachers scheduled time for their classes to learn and create in the makerspace. For instance, an English teacher asked students to create a visual representation of a character in the novel students just finished reading.

The makerspace also serves as a location for professional development. “The teachers really gravitate toward this space as much as the kids do,” Luhtala said. “We used the tables for weeks of PLCs.”

Next page: 12 things to remember when creating a makerspace

Laura Ascione

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