Monday, March 3, 2014

Invent to Learn Week 6: Stuff and Shaping the Learning Environment

These two chapters were all about setting up your learning environment. What kind of "stuff" do you have in your classroom? Are you encouraging making in your classroom simply by offering supplies to your students? And after reading chapter 9, what ideas or plans do you have for your new or improved making learning environment?

Next week we will discuss chapters 10 and 11. We only have 3 weeks left in our spring book club. (Will it even be spring by then?) If you haven't been keeping up with the readings and commenting to the posts, be sure you take some time to do that. We will award PGPs at the end of the book club and those who have participated in every weeks' conversation will be eligible for a prize. All the more reason to participate!


  1. Stuff in the classroom- As a language arts teacher, I don't have a lot of "stuff" right now. I do however, have a closet full of scrap booking supplies from years ago- and odds and ends like string, wooden shapes, etc. After reading these two chapters, I have a visual as to the potential of this type of space. We have a recycling plant in our community in which anyone can visit and take anything they can use. Everything is free. I see this place as a "maker space treasure." Everything mentioned in these chapters can probably be found at the community recycling plant.

    The most difficult part is finding a location within the school that could be developed into this type of space. However, there are so many great ideas within this chapter, that almost any space could easily be transformed. Theses two chapters stress the importance of organization and having space for the students that offers the flexibility and opportunity to tinker. Honestly, these two chapters provide numerous websites and resources that are very helpful in transforming the classroom into a maker space. The more I read, the more I'm convinced that this transformation in thinking and creating is not limited to a particular curricular area or grade level. I do see this as a change in thinking and philosophy in the classroom, which I hope will be supported by administration. I feel as though my Genius Hour projects this semester are a step in the right direction, and I am eager to move closer to a fab lab environment.

  2. I keep colored pencils, markers, glue sticks, poster boards, and scissors in my English classroom in addition to the tools and resources available to me due to the fact that I work in a 1:1 computer school. I am not ready to bring a soldering iron into my curriculum at this point but I do believe that students need the flexibility of choice. High school students are more engaged and stay that way more often when there are a variety of activities incorporated into the curriculum.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Creating maker spaces in our schools may be challenging. Limited space in our schools and in our classrooms is an issue. Not an exuse, but a real roadblock. I taught 3rd grade in a portable for 3 years and there was barely enough room to create learning circle stations. Also, I am a girl who likes things neat and tidy in my classroom, so for the few of us teachers who don't save everything and who throw away things on a regular basis need to rethink this action. Soooo....where are we going to put all of our "maker" accessories? And where are we going to put this "stuff" in a place that is accessable to students on a regular basis?

    Getting the environment set is just the beginning. "Planning a creative design space and collecting the 'stuff' is only a part of shaping the learning environment. Creating an intellectual design space is another. Your students need to believe that they can be inventors and creators."

    Much to learn and do....

  6. I’m coming from a unique perspective as I read these chapters. As a “Technology Integration Specialist” for the district, I don’t have a classroom of my own nor do I directly work with students on regular basis. I only have office space in one of our schools. However, as a “maker space” was being illustrated in these chapters, I realized we do have a bit of a startup “maker space” already. Our district computer tech. has an office (a storage closet really) in one of our elementary buildings. After school some of our teachers own children go to this office. During their visits they tinker with spare or broken computer parts. Sometimes they learn about what the parts are intended to do, and then other times they take the parts home for use in artistic creations. The kids absolutely love this experience! I plan to talk to him about possibly offering the same experience to the students who stay for our after school care program that meets in the building’s cafeteria.

    These chapters related to me on a more personal level too. My daughter has the heart of a maker! At the age of 7, she has already made a dedicated spot in her room for crafting. She lovingly calls it “her special spot.” Through these readings I’m finding a new appreciation and a higher tolerance for the chaos that sometimes results from her interests!

    1. I agree about having more tolerance for the chaos. As long as it is productive chaos in the classroom. Kudos for having a special spot. Not all parents/grandparents like the clutter and mess that goes along with making.

  7. I found these chapters very helpful to me. A second grade teacher and I started an after school Tinkering and Technology club. We have had just 2 sessions and I can already see how this could be used in the classroom environment. We are looking into a space to house junk and tools. This is the major obstacle for us. The students are collaborating and building together in groups and the conversations are amazing. I love to hear their thinking process and how they learn to cooperate.

  8. At school, I have been pulling things from closets and shelves, getting rid of some of the traditional things and make available to their fingertips things that will enable them to be more creative. Even pulling those things from home that I saved for just in case and making available to my classes. I had a lady donate fabric and one class has turned her long-term closet stash into lightweight blankets for needy families. She read my plea in the newspaper as well as a business owner from a neighboring county.

    I am trying to get some to engage in use of the cricut vs. purchasing something already done for their project. You can design many things on your computer and transfer to the cricut machine. I worked with one young lady to send designs to the printer and print on cardstock to decorate boards she is making for her niece and nephew’s rooms. Even pulling those things from home that I saved for just in case.

    I have this table that the leaves fold down and it take up little space. I had considered putting it in the school auction until I read these chapters.

    I have grasped the idea that sometimes someone might need an extra set of hands and then in return they can return the favor another day.

  9. This year I borrowed an idea from a science teacher in my building. My daughter was in her class last year, and they made a study guide from a composition book. The teacher sometimes copied things for them to glue in the comp book, but sometimes students had to create the study guide items, making them out of paper and crayons. My daughter's comp. book was awesome; so much fun to look at, colorful, and a summary of the entire class. The bonus is that when I incorporated this into my class this year, I didn't realize what a refreshing break it gave the students to be able to take some time to switch their brains to a new activity. Cutting and pasting with glue sticks seems like a mindless task, but it was during this time that students were able to reset and return to reading or another activity with a fresh mind. I did not expect how essential this is. When I cover a topic too intensely in my English classes, I lose some students. The cutting and pasting allows students a little refresher, and they return to tasks more willingly, more creatively, and in a more engaged manner. I didn't guess how needed a little rote chore is now and then!