Thursday, December 17, 2015

Makerspaces Make Creating Fun

Do you know what a makerspace is? Don't be concerned if you don't. Not many people do. My simple definition is a place where people are encouraged to create. A better definition is in the video link available here. In a makerspace, the materials that are available for the participants are varied. A great Makerspace encourages free thought, creativity, and freedom to make mistakes.

I recently took part in professional development at The Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF), a non-profit organization that provides various activities for children and adults. The activities are varied: design cookie cutters, invention planning, and design using 3D printers.  At The DHF, attendees are encouraged to create using the materials that are available in the space: batteries,  sticky tape,  construction paper, 3D printers, markers,  etc.

3D Printer
DHF employees planning for the evening event.

The PD was partnership effort between the BCPS Office of Digital Learning and The Digital Harbor 

Foundation. Attendees ranged from classroom teachers: science,  technology, reading, and special educators, as well as library media specialists, resource teachers, and a principal.

After attending the PD, I created a "To Do" list, in order to get the ball rolling in my quest to create a makerspace in The SMaRTZone. The ideas below are based on  information shared by our presenters, as well as "Aha" moments I had during the presentation.

Activities for me to consider:
● Digital designer (program)
● Shark Tank -- students create inventions and sell them
● Encourage our school to have a PD for our teachers at The DHF.
● Suggest this to dream and Flourish
● Bring my library helpers and avid readers --check w/DHF about times and dates
● Check to see if they Periscope and have viewing of sessions
● Get more information about their Minecraft activities.
● Look into Artbox, Makered program.

Other ideas and resources:
● Look on YouTube for various hacks related to makerspaces, student inventions,  etc.
● Get info about Caine's Arcade (as a sample for the kids)

I encourage anyone who is interested in makerspaces to check out the services offered at The Digital Harbor.  There are workshops for educators, youth, and the community. The staff is knowledgeable and are excited with the prospect to get more students and adults to think of themselves as makers. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SMaRTZone Updates for December

Parents and students are reminded to use the FolletShelf feature icon Destiny in order to read ebooks.   The SMaRTZone has one of the largest, middle school selections of ebooks (646) in Baltimore County.  Any user of Destiny is able to log into the system using their BCPS username and password. 

Once you are in Follett Shelf, you are able to read numerous books.  Some of the ebooks even offer interactive features.  Please take a moment to check-out the Follett Shelf.  Below are some of the student comments regarding the advantages of ebooks:

There will be days available during various lunch shifts when students can enjoy the SMaRTZone in a less structured fashion.  Students who come to the SMaRTZone during that time will have the chance to work on projects, read, check out books, as well as time to play various games. 

Below are the statistics for Library Usage from November 2- December 4.  We are seeing a steady increase in student usage and Grade 6 Language Arts/Reading classes have the lead in visits.