Posted by: bluesyemre | May 16, 2018

Don’t Let #Makerspaces Be A Passing Trend by Laura Fleming


In 21 years in education, I have seen many trends come and go. I am on a mission to keep makerspaces from being added to that list. That’s at the core of everything I do now. Makerspaces are an educational philosophy, foundationally solid, and we can’t allow them to be cast aside by cynics who might suggest they were just a fun fad that has run its course. We must work to secure the future of makerspaces. Their fundamental purpose is too important, the impact on students too significant.

A true makerspace offers student-driven opportunity for open-ended exploration for everyone. Makerspaces are a mind-set, a culture. It’s about the pedagogy. A great makerspace has seven key attributes: It is personalized, deep (allowing deeper learning), empowering, equitable, differentiated, intentional, and inspiring. If you have all of that, you can call your space a makerspace—maybe even a great makerspace.

So what’s next? What is the key to the future of makerspaces? Sustainability. That requires proper planning. I am not just talking about the initial planning that is vital to creating the right makerspace for your school. This planning is for the future, and it requires looking back.

Reflection is so important: What works, what doesn’t, how can I refine my space so that it continues to grow and evolve with my students, the school community, and the wider world that we’re living in? I think about the makerspace almost daily and revisit the planning formally at least once each school year. Everyone should. You must sit down, and collect and analyze the data. Reevaluate. Talk to the students. Drop themes, add themes. Your kids change, your makerspace should too. This is about creating a space that is unique and meaningful to the students in your school community, as well as meeting every single one of their needs.

As you maintain and attempt to sustain your makerspace, never forget the underlying purpose, which is an educational experience that allows students to lead and extend their learning in whatever direction and way they choose. It moves them to identify problems and create solutions. It is not about the stuff.

When we first launched our space, we had every kit available. It was great. We had wonderful experiences, but something never felt right to me. It was because students were creating 10, 15, 20 of the same thing. We were just following the directions. It was when we didn’t have the money, and I couldn’t go out and buy those things, that the real making began. Kids started looking around at whatever we had and saying, “OK, that’s a paper towel tube in there, what else could it be? What else could I use that for?”

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