Twig Education Announces Launch of Twig Create Multimedia Makerspace

The company is offering a limited number of invitations to educators to engage students in knowledge building and understanding through creative agency and inclusion.

“The pandemic has shed light on the need for student agency and inclusion, along with an emphasis on content-rich knowledge to support language learning effectively in literacy, history, social science, and science applications,” said Catherine Cahn, the CEO of Twig Education. “Twig Create inspires students’ enjoyment of the filmmaking process to help them develop a desire to deepen learning, resulting in dramatically reduced learning loss.”

Through inclusive topic- and standards-aligned tasks, Twig Create’s digital features empower students to build knowledge and develop language proficiencies through film and voiceover editing using music, visual and video sources, and text. The Twig Create makerspace encourages students’ creative agency in a number of ways:…Read More

eSchool News launches eSchool News STEM, STEAM, & Makerspaces Guide

We are excited to bring you the latest in the eSchool News Guides series. eSchool News Guides are full of resources, tips, trends, and insights from industry experts on a variety of topics that are essential to the classroom, school, and district.

The February Guide, the eSchool News STEM, STEAM, & Makerspaces Guide, offers insight on the best approaches to STEM, STEAM, and makerspaces. The guide also highlights some resources and tools educators can use in the classroom to engage students, improve classroom climate, and create interactive classroom environments.

In the guide, we take a look at how educators are implementing STEAM projects for very young learners. Plus, we examine one school’s successful transition from STEM to STEAM learning, and we learn some of the most-needed components for a successful makerspace.…Read More

3 keys to cultivating the maker mindset

When we dreamed of starting construction on a space where teachers and students alike could cultivate a maker mindset, our goals went beyond creating a dedicated makerspace. We wanted to empower our community, assure students that they were valued as individuals, and offer them opportunities to develop empathy and agency as problem-finders and creative problem-solvers.

We knew we could accomplish this with a designated space that celebrated creativity, emphasized process over product, and highlighted the importance of reflection. We set out to design a space where students could not only develop a design thinking philosophy, but integrate this maker mindset into their core studies.

Related content: 9 ways schools can create better makerspaces…Read More

How to transform a library into a makerspace

In a recent edWebinar, hosted by edWeb.net, Michelle Luhtala, library department chair, and Donna Burns, technology integrator, both from New Canaan High School (NCHS) in Connecticut, showcased the transformation of the NCHS library from a collection of used reference and biography books into a living, breathing makerspace. Using mostly recyclable materials, equipment, and furniture, these educators are providing learning opportunities for students and teachers that have changed the school climate and culture. “Making learning more real for students allows them to learn better in a much more energized school,” said Luhtala.

A multi-year redesign

Through a five-year radical book-weeding process from 2011- 2016, the NCHS library had eliminated all of the library’s free-standing bookshelves. This process created both an opportunity and a challenge for Luhtala and Burns to convert this newly created space into a makerspace. With minimal funding in the early stages of the makerspace, the duo salvaged discarded lab tables and art stools and recycled material from all areas of the school.

Although this space was optimal for student making, organization and storage issues became the prime concern in the second year of the makerspace. Luhtala and Burns rescued much-needed shelving from the elementary school and clamped the refurbished shelves together to create an 80-bin storage system that provided teachers and students easy access to the makerspace materials.…Read More

5 ways to use makerspaces to support personalized learning

At this stage of the edtech revolution, most educators are focused on using tech to enhance lessons rather than on the tech itself. But many times, tech is only integrated at specific points in the classroom or with a specific tool as determined by the teacher. At St. Albans City School in Vermont, SETDA’s 2018 Student Voices Award Winner, educators encourage the students to find places in their everyday work to incorporate digital resources, especially from their makerspace. In the edWebinar “Students Leverage Technology Tools and Makerspaces to Personalize Learning,” Grace Borst, innovation specialist at St. Albans City School, and several of her students explained how they’re using technology for assessment, service work, and more.

St. Albans City School has a dedicated makerspace open to all students from preK-8. In addition to class assignments in the space, open lab time is also available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students use this time for school and personal projects where tech might not be required but could add value. Although they miss class for open lab, the teachers recognize the benefits of letting students explore technology to help them achieve their personal and educational goals.

Here are some examples the student presenters shared about how they’ve used technology at St. Albans.…Read More

What’s in your makerspace?

For the last 20 years, Laura Fleming has been a classroom teacher and media specialist. She’s also an adjunct professor, the founder of Worlds of Making, LLC, and Hands-On Coding, LLC, and the best-selling author of Worlds of Learning: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School as well as The Kickstart Guide to Making Great Makerspaces.

Her library makerspace has received national attention and served as an inspiration for schools across the country and her blog, Worlds of Learning, has been recognized as one of the top K-12 IT blogs.

Each year, Worlds of Making releases an annual top 10 makerspace items list. Below, we’ve included some of the winners from the 2015, 2016, and 2017 lists (in alphabetical order).…Read More

Makerspace tips and advice from the front lines

Maker culture is thriving in schools and public libraries across the United States and beyond. From challenges to success stories, no two makerspaces are alike, and maker facilitators have valuable lessons to share. In their recent edWebinar, Michelle Luhtala, library department chair at New Canaan High School in Conn., Ethan Heise, director of MackinMaker, and Heather Lister, professional learning specialist, discussed their experiences with makerspaces and shared advice for those starting their maker education journey.

4 tips from those in the know

  1. Start small. When New Canaan High School started its makerspace journey, Luhtala realized they needed to start with basics like LEGO bricks, markers, and butcher-block paper to maintain a student-centered mindset. Once students began spending more time in the makerspace and expressing interest in using different kinds of materials, storage and organization—including tackle boxes, shelves, labeled bins, and photo albums with pictures displaying materials—became essential.
  2. Ask for assistance from teachers and students. Although you may be the driving force at your school, Lister did not recommend going it alone. With hundreds or even thousands of kids using the library, it doesn’t make sense to design that space without their voice. Have teachers take a level of ownership by getting their input in areas like the furniture design or adding ideas to a Pinterest board. She also added that you should not be too rigid when it comes to your plan. Save yourself stress by staying flexible when plans change, potential new equipment emerges, or old materials don’t work out.
  3. Do not be one-size-fits-all. Heise said it’s a good idea to choose themes (e.g., coding for kids) so you can assess the materials you’ll need. Be sure to check out device compatibility before purchasing any equipment. A needs assessment that encompasses factors like time, size, budget, theme, and location can help you determine how to move forward. Understanding how long different projects will take your students is key to making sure you’re getting the right products into your makerspace.
  4. Be transparent from the start. Getting teachers on board might be a challenge at first, so Lister recommended presenting your ideas at a staff meeting and asking teachers to collaborate on a project they’re already doing. That way, they’ll see that the makerspace is not something additional, but something they can work into an existing project. “You will really start to see the power and creativity that comes out of (having a makerspace) and you’re going to have so many unintended benefits, good consequences that come out of this,” said Lister.
…Read More

The New Librarian: How I created a makerspace

As an elementary educator for most of my career, I’ve had the privilege of working with a variety of learners—from inner-city students in North Carolina to university-level students in Chicago—but I found my true calling as the librarian at Hubbard Woods Elementary in Winnetka, Illinois. I’ve been called the “Willy Wonka of school librarians” because I transformed our traditional library into what I call an IDEA (Innovation, Design, Engineering, and Art) Lab complete with flexible furniture, robotics, engineering tools, iPads, laptops, and sewing machines.

To get started, I used my experience as a classroom educator to create a cross-curricular library curriculum that supports classroom teachers’ lessons, marrying the idea of books and bytes. Daily activities include robot bowling, using robots to paint pictures, and filming and producing music videos staring (you guessed it) robots!

For other districts that want to turn their libraries into IDEA labs, here are some insights into how we made it all happen.…Read More

4 considerations for your first makerspace

The benefits of hands-on, active learning are firmly established, yet a lot of difference exists between being able to touch something and being able to create something. The latter allows students to practice skills in demand in the modern economy.

The exhibitor floors at ed-tech conferences provide an inspiring snapshot for the rise of skills-based learning options and environments across the American educational landscape. Educators and schools are realizing they need to provide more experiential learning experiences for the next generation of makers. One way is through learning environments called makerspaces.

What is a Makerspace? …Read More

8 tips to help create and sustain a makerspace

Though makerspaces are becoming more mainstream, creating and maintaining one could overwhelm educators who are starting from scratch.

Aside from the technology tools and other resources that make up the space, it’s wise to have a plan in terms of when students will use the space, how it will be shared, where funding will come from, and how students will demonstrate what they are learning.

A makerspace is loosely defined as an area in which people–in this case, students and educators–use creativity, technology and computing to work on different projects and ideas, said October Smith, the K-12 science coordinator in Lamar Consolidated ISD, during a TCEA 2017 session.…Read More