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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Reflections on Makerspace, Science Week and Shrinky Dinks

Every Thursday Lunchtime we set up a Makerspace area in the Learning Commons where students can tinker with makeable objects, be it technology or crafty gadgets.

In an ideal world we would have a breakout space where we could allow students to get access to this equipment all the time, but for the moment, our Learning Commons is a shared space and space is at a premium. So at the end of lunch the space needs to be packed up as it is used for teaching and learning during Period 4.

For Science week, the Learning Commons staff collaborated with the Science Domain to set up a shrink dink workshop where students could create their own science jewellery, brooches or key-rings.

It was a great session, we had over 20 students and 4 staff members jostling for access to tools and equipment. Lots of conversation about what "science" emblem, element or diagram they were making and why. The Learning Commons at lunchtime is normally full of students and teachers, this added to the atmosphere of the maker space.

As we wiped down the tables at the end of the session, there were a few thoughts and reflections on how it went and what we could do better next time.

1. Be clear on procedures for Bump in and Bump out

In an ideal world students would assist with this, but realistically there needs to be support staff to ensure that these stages go smoothly. Labelled containers, plastic pockets and tools all need to have a place to live and return to. What is the expectation of the students at the end of the session? Do they have to help pack up?

We held our workshop at lunchtime, so we had everything set up the period before so that students could just sit down and play with the technology and tools.
  • Craft Placemats x 16
  • Hole punches x 5
  • Coloured Pencils x 3 packets
  • Permanent fine tip markers x 2 packets
  • Sandpaper
  • Pre-cut shrinkable plastic
  • Instruction sheets x 6
  • Scissors x 8
  • caution tape (for drama)
  • witches hats (for drama)
  • Variety of jewellery piers and hardware to make earrings, pendants and brooches.
We found that the stools around tables worked better than chairs.

2. Instructions

Even if you don't think that students will need it, instruction sheets ensure that the teachers know what is going on! I like the idea of having a simple side and and a complex side to instructions so that students can choose which side they like to use.

We made a simple 6 step instruction sheet for the students to follow and the rest of the details of how to use Shrinky Dinks is on the Learning Commons Libguide space.

3. Safety - OHS considerations

Do you need to manage tools? Do the tables need protecting? I would like to get some padded table protectors so that we don't have to worry about accidents when working in this shared space.

For the shrinking, one of the science teachers took groups of students to the staffroom to use the oven. A toaster oven would be a great idea, but then you would need to maintain it and get it tested regularly.

4. Time Expectations

How long does it take to do the whole process?

If it took you 10 minutes, it will take a student 20 minutes (not because they don't know, but because they need to decide on their picture, talk to their friends and work out which colours to use).

Have ideas or images pre-laminated to trace over. Most of our students actually traced off their iPad's or phones the images they wanted to "shrink".

5.  Follow-through

Makerspace initiative isn't just about tinkering in the school library. It is about igniting that curiosity within so that students go home and continue to tinker and learn.

Make sure that the students have something to go home with. Instruction sheets, equipment lists and a hashtag to share their creations with.


Have you found this article worthwhile?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Makerspace Bookbinding Adventures

As with most schools, our Learning Commons (Library) budget is stretched. So any Makerspace activities are done on a shoestring.

Today at lunch we tried book binding as an activity using recycled and bought materials.

I am not sure if it was the hammers, but we were swamped with students wanting to try their hand at bookbinding. We didn't have waxed thread or japanese tissuepaper, but we did have kitchen twine, some leather hole punches and also hammers ....

There was a lot of noise and a lot of interest and the senior students were great at encouraging the younger ones with the equipment.

Next time we do book binding we will have more equipment ready to go, as this tends to be a lunchtime activity. I'm working on form to use when planning Makerspace activities, so hopefully that will assist me in the planning for these events.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Celebrating Science Week #natsciweek

Science week comes to an end and the Learning Commons has been busy with running events this week. We have had puzzles, quizzes, kaleidoscope workshop and today we did a shrinky dinks workshop as part of our Makerspace.

As a knowledge space, we set up a science book display with some of our more visually interesting books and a collection of home made kaleidoscope's as part of National Science Week celebrations.

We made a bunting using Periodic elements using MyFunSTudio and we set up one of the Tetris Lamps to engage curiosity in conductivity and Rubrik's Cube. Lots of conversations about how to solve the cube and the algorithms needed to manipulate the cube.

Today students had great time designing scientific shrinky dinks that could be used as earrings, cufflinks and brooches. The activity was a huge success and there was much learnt by both the Science and Learning Commons staff members in regards to running a workshop like this.

More reflections about our experiences later though!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Librarians and Social Capital

I've been reading up on how teacher librarians can leverage social capital to improve teaching and learning and I came across this.

Not only is Joyce knowledgable on the topic, she is also great at explaining how introverted teacher librarians need to get over it! That it is essential to our survival to get our there and get active!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I got published!

I enjoy writing! 

So when the opportunity came up to write for the School Library Association of NSW at the end of last year I jumped at the chance. Lyn Hay was wonderful in allowing this very *new* Teacher Librarian to write down her thoughts about engaging students with author visits.

My article was published at the start of this year and I was very excited when I got my own copy through the mail. In preparation, a good friend took some "author photo's" for me (glamorous from the waist up) and some close friends did some proof reading for me.

My article spoke about my experiences with a number of author visits; Michael Pryor, George Ivanoff and James Phelan. In particular, I reflected on how we felt the impact of the author visit years after the fact. With Year 10 students still borrowing Michael Pryor books years after the visit, because they can remember the "burning book" trick.

This poses the question, are author visits essential to creating an engaged reading culture in schools?

Feedback has been very good and I am looking forward to writing more articles in the future if given the opportunity.

The reference for my article is in the publications page on my blog. If you are interested in my writing or you would like me to expand any of my blog entries into "articles" then please contact me via my blog, twitter or email.