I have been thinking about several communication lanes that have changed as a result of technological advances:
Two years ago, I stumbled upon a blog from EdSurge about makerspaces that changed the entire way that I felt about how to plan for a makerspace. It is brilliant, and I highly recommend that you check it out - 6 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Makerspace by Parker Thomas (@fpthomas).
I have shared this article so many times with different educators and admin that my co-workers literally refer to it as Amber's article :) But all props go to @fpthomas. The part that I love so much is that it requires you to truly think about your culture and how your culture will impact your students' experience in the makerspace. Unfortunately in education, we have to reverse engineer this process. Our admin will come in and say, I got a small bit of money, you can spend it on your makerspace idea, but you need to spend it by Friday. Or I saw this at a conference and decided to buy these robots...here you go, use them! The stuff tends to be the focus and the thing that everyone wants to jump into. What's the price point? How much will this cost? And educators have stuff or make very quick decisions about what to get, but are not sure if their students will be interested in it.
What we really need to ask ourselves is, what do we want our students to be doing? How are we going to support our students' interests? A makerspace doesn't have to be filled with tons of expensive equipment. A makerspace needs to be filled with objects that support that school's students. Many things can be donated or come from recycling. I truly believe that no matter the age group, cardboard should be a makerspace staple. There are even schools that are adding cheap/free makerspace supplies to their back to school lists. Check out this makerspace back-to-school list from Farnhamville Iowa. They've even added in an Amazon Wish list - who doesn't love 2 Day Shipping with Prime!
Educating the parents and community about what you are doing is always a great first step for support. Many community members are eager to support their schools. Just let them know what you are doing. That would be the 7th Consideration for starting a makerspace that I would add to Parker's fantastic article. How will you share with the community what you are doing?
At the beginning of last school year, I was challenged to choose just one word to help define my upcoming year. I chose the word visualize for two reasons. First, I visual learning has been a strength of mine. Throughout my schooling, when asked to recall information, I could simply close my eyes and picture what I needed to, whether it's a still picture, a website, or a frame from a video. I don't have a photographic memory, but I can often pull in those images from somewhere deep in my brain when needed.
I know that even though this is a strength of mine, I haven't been the best at sharing what I'm picturing and connecting. In my job as an edtech consultant, I need to share, share, and share some more to help educators get a leg up in the ever-changing world of educational technology. So, what I decided to explore this year is the practice that is now known as sketchnoting. Little did I know 5 years ago, I was sketchnoting. I didn't call it sketchnoting, I called it visual notes, but I was sketchnoting.
And more important I was offering and sharing this as a learning option with my students. I encouraged students to take notes over a reading in the way that made the most sense to them. Some students took Cornell Notes (something I had shared earlier in the year), some students took vocabulary style notes, some did video reflections and some students took, what I was calling at the time, visual notes. I worked specifically with this group of students and we would read together, then stop at certain points and draw something that would help us to remember what we read. It didn't have to be the same thing, just something that would work for each individual person. I liked I could see the students' personalities and the different ways that students would make connections.
Here's a random collection of sketchnotes that I created this past year....