Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Creation Station: Year Intro

Hi Folks,

As most of you know, Village Elementary School is proud to have a MakerSpace.  Our "Creation Station" offers your class the space and supplies for students to think critically, collaborate, and choose how to demonstrate their learning through innovative creations. The motto of "Full STEAM Ahead" refers to our focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. (For those who are new, or just want to review, scroll to the bottom of this email for a full description of the Creation Station).)  

As we move forward this year, here are a few items to note:

  1. The Creation Station has undergone a thorough reorganization!  We’ll send out more info shortly to help you navigate the space.
  2. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Our goal as a MakerSpace Team this year is to eliminate the “overwhelming” feeling for staff by giving specific ideas for weaving making into the curriculum.  
  3. JOIN THE MAKERSPACE TEAM! Want to help guide the direction of the Creation Station and help spread the Maker Mindset at VES? Join our team!  So far, members are Annette Slone, Carolyn Dupre, Beth Burns, Pete Demeritt, Jenna LaRochelle-Parry, Michele Frietag, and Cynthia Keating.  We meet every other Friday (NOT breakfast/payday Friday) at 8:00 in the Creation Station.
  4. We’ll keep you posted on what’s going on in the space, awesome making that happens there, and news developments in STEAM Making around the world.  We can look forward to a staff meeting devoted to the Maker Mindset as well!
  5. Mrs. Dupre and Mrs. Burns are promoting the Maker Mindset within, and outside of, their library!  Stay tuned as they bring out the Maker in all of us!
  6. YOU have the power to schedule your class to use the space!  Visit our calendar and add it to your own so that you can add events.  The calendar can also be found by going to the VES Bluebook - Bluebook Table of Contents - Room Reservations - Creation Station.
  7. MAKING IS DIFFERENT FROM CRAFTING.  There is a time and a place for both, and we are lucky here in York to have admin who value of making as a vital part of learning!  (but by all means, you can make in your classroom as well!  Just allow students choice for how they learn or demonstrate skills!)  
    1. Here are some examples of making from last year:

Making                   vs.                  Crafting
Mindset:  Each child may choose how to demonstrate their learning.  Student plans design, materials to use, and construction.
Mindset:  Everyone makes the same thing, often with the same supplies.  Teacher usually plans steps or sets up station for the craft.
Output:  Projects vary greatly- often no two will be alike.  Results may look “messy”- you won’t be able to post a wall of the exact same perfect result, but students will love that their work is entirely their own!
Output:  Student projects created appear to follow the same format or steps.  Most look very similar if not completely alike. You’ll be able to display a wall full of uniform results.
Example of Making vs. Crafting
Learning Goal:  Show that you have learned the parts of an insect.
Example of making from last year: Using supplies in the Creation Station, each student constructs an insect using their own designs. (Requirements:  must demonstrate that an insect has a head, body, thorax, 6 legs, and 2 antenna.)
IMG_4063.JPGIMG_4045 2.JPG
Example of Crafting:
(this wasn’t observed; only included for purpose of comparison)
Every student glues 3 pompoms together for animal body and adds pipe cleaner legs and antennae
Clues that a class is “crafting:”
  • Teacher bought a bag of pom poms / popsicle sticks/ (insert other specific supply) to prepare.
  • Teacher checks the Creation Station to make sure there are enough _______ for every student.
  • Teacher gives clear directions for the craft.

Clues that a class is “making:”
  • Students may choose their own supplies.  (Keep in mind that you CAN put limits on a “Maker Project”, such as saying that “we’re only going to use supplies from THIS area” or “results today should be 2-D” (meaning use paper/felt, etc. and keep it flat).  OR, students may all need cups and markers for a doodlebot, but they don’t need to use the same cup and markers.  You may also come to the MakerSpace to all make journals that can be written in, but students would be allowed to choose HOW they construct and WHAT they use.
  • If one supply is used up, students creatively choose another that might work instead.
  • Teacher is clear with students about knowledge/learning that should be demonstrated through the students’ work.

Maker Mindset is one that you can embrace in your own classroom as well, and you might already be doing so!

Embrace a Maker Mindset in your classroom by doing the following:
  • Let students use blocks, art, or other manipulatives to design solutions to a problem
  • Offer opportunities to work on real world problems (Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers believe this starts in kindergarten)
  • Think PERSONALIZATION- allow students to choose learning paths based on their interests (Think about yourself- does your classroom have a theme?  You’ve embraced a topic that interests YOU!  I LOVED frogs, so my room was the “pond,” we earned critters, we “hopped into quagmires” of tough concepts, I taught by using frogs and toads as analogies, I formed interesting lead sentences to paragraphs about frogs… I had a passion for frogs, and I used it to promote learning.  What do your students love?  They can learn so much through their passions!)
  • Think PERSISTENCE- plan lessons where the outcome is uncertain, allow students to explore a concept rather than telling them about it directly
  • Allow students to grapple with a solution
  • Allow students to tinker/play- take things apart, construct things that your classroom needs, investigate new art supplies on their own to come up with guidelines for their usage...

Description of the Creation Station (written for the York Voter’s Guide- Spring 2016)- You’re welcome to add this to a newsletter to remind parents about our space.
The Creation Station is a MakerSpace at Village Elementary School.  Started in the Fall of 2015 as a revamp of the old computer lab, it exists to provide hands-on experiences where young minds, educators, and community members are inspired to wonder, explore, collaborate, problem solve, invent, and build.  The motto of "Full STEAM Ahead" refers to our focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Three huge, rolling work tables provide plenty of surface for racing Doodlebots or building musical instruments.  Tubs and bins filled with upcycled materials like cardboard, beads, metal buckles, packing peanuts, fabric, and plastic bits feed the imagination and wind up glued, taped, or otherwise connected into all manner of inventions.  A class-set of iPads and 5 Chromebooks, as well as an interactive whiteboard, provide makers with the chance to write code or hunt for information needed to pursue a passion.  Activity options include a Tinker Table stocked with LEGOs and K’Nex, a Take-Apart Tech station, and a Green Screen set with iPad movie mount.  As it grows, the Creation Station intends to feature and host local Makers, welcome volunteers to assist with class visits, and pursue collaboration opportunities with other schools and community members. Through the collaboration of staff, and community members, the Creation Station has enabled many extensions to the classroom curriculum and will continue to do so!

Please reach out if you’d like to be a member of the Creation Station Team.

How will your class MAKE their year awesome?