Hands-on Learning and Boosting Creative Confidence

I can

Leander Conference

What a week! I started the week by leading “Hands-on Makerspace Learning” for teachers and librarians in LeanderISD. I enjoyed sharing ideas with them, and then watching them gain creative confidence as they tinkered with materials to make paper circuits, simple robots, and even got silly programming bananas to play their laughter with Makey Makey. The teachers enjoyed tinkering with the new “Temperature sensor” littleBit and taught me a few things about how it works!

One of my favorite a-ha moments this week was seeing the natural collaboration that occurs when educators (or students) are making stuff. When students have to figure out how things work together, they gain the confidence to teach others the basic concepts, and they gain the confidence to persevere through problems. As a teacher, my favorite aspect of this, is hearing all the thinking my students go through as they try to solve a problem. Plus, it’s amazing to be able to hear the natural questions that arrive from those think- aloud sessions.

And even better than that? The smiling and giggles and laughter when they reach success! These Leander teachers realized they could even record their laughter in the Scratch program and then “play” the Play-doh to ignite the recording of their laugh!

So much fun learning/sharing #makeymakey w #LISDCIC Ts & @leanderisd_libraries today! #makered

A photo posted by colleengraves.org (@makerteacherlibrarian) on

Makey Makey Session

At TCEA on Wednesday, the #superlibrarianhubs and I led an hour and half workshop on utilizing Makey Makey in the classroom. We talked to teachers about how to get started with Makey Makey, how important it is to teach invention literacy, and to never ever ever eat the gummy worms from our Makey Makey workshop! HA!

One of the best things about this session was showing educators that teaching with Makey Makey is accessible! We gave them the confidence to go #beyondthebanana. As we walked the room helping session attendees create Scratch games for their celery, gummies, and bananas, we stumbled upon some great brainstorming sessions between educators!

I really love this sketch note from our session by Vanessa Perez. (What a great way to showcase her learning, but also share her learning with others! Teachers, I will be bugging you to use sketchnotes in your classes! For those of you that are new to sketch notes, it is not an app, it is an idea- it’s simply sketching your notes in a visual and non-linguistic way. As a learner, it’s a great way to focus on what is important and help retain ideas from a session or class!)


Awesome Sketch Note by Vanessa Perez @vperezy

All of the lessons we shared are over on the Makey Makey page, but here is a copy of our presentation with pictures and others links if you are interested. Some of my favorite lessons are the Classify and Sort Lesson (because it makes students draw geometric shapes and then program them,) the Dual Language Lesson, and utilizing Makey Makey Hot Wheels switches for Distance, Rate, and Time.

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Tackk for Makey Makey Session

Plus, you should take a look at the smiles and FRUIT from our Makey Makey session:

Makerspace for TCEA Library Academy

Thursday was a busy, busy day! We ran focused workshops every hour, but librarians were free to play with anything in the room. Some librarians stayed with us for a good 3 hours learning and making. Then they walked around the room and shared their new knowledge with other participants that were new to our pop-up makerspace.  Aaron, my ITS Leslie, and I were always nearby in case makers got frustrated and needed assistance. Having small, focused groups, helped librarians feel comfortable enough to sit down and explore. Sometimes, our educators just need time set aside for learning, I heard many people say things like, “Oh, I’ve seen littleBits/MakeyMakey before, but I don’t know what I would do with them.” Then they sat down, made things, and realized the power behind these cool inventions!

It was amazing to be able to offer new maker librarians a safe space to do some hands-on makerspace learning!

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One of my favorite moments was when a librarian asked, “If I put a fan on this temperature sensor, will it change the read out?”

To which I replied, “I don’t know. Let’s find out.”

Another librarian commented on how she liked the way I did that. I didn’t give a direct answer, I made her want to figure it out. I do it so often in my library makerspace that it’s second nature. If a student asks me if we have a book, I say the same thing, “I don’t know, let’s check the catalog together and find out. My goal as an educator is to empower students to find answers on their own. I’m nearby to assist when needed, but I always explain how the library system works because I want them to feel like they can walk in anytime and find what they need.

When teaching others about facilitating a makerspace, it is important to share that as maker librarians we should NOT give our makers “the” answer. We are here to build the path for them to explore and find an answer on their own. That personal road to discovery should also teach makers that there is more than one answer to a question and that there are many, many ways to solve a problem. In a makerspace, there is more than one solution to a problem.

In a makerspace, there is more than one solution to a problem.

Plus, if we don’t know, we can find out together. (Which reminds me of my last post, it is pertinent that we learn alongside our students.)  So, we set up a second set of bits with fans, and checked our temperature sensor to see the effect.

"Will the fan decrease the temperature?" #tcea16 @littlebits Let's find out! #library #makerspace

A photo posted by colleengraves.org (@makerteacherlibrarian) on

Take-aways from Leading the Learning This Week

Key phrases heard over and over this week by teachers and librarians at all sessions:

  • “I can do this!”
  • “Thank you for making this accessible.”
  • “I feel like I can try this!”
  • “I was scared of trying to incorporate a makerspace, but now I feel like I can do this.”
  • “Thank you for the time and space to explore!”
  • “I can’t wait to share this with my students!”
  • “My students are going to love this!”
  • “I can’t wait to see what my students do with this!”

So what does this mean for you, dear readers? Maker librarians, if you are wanting your teachers to collaborate with you on makerspace activities, you may need to set aside some time for your teachers to explore so they can make curriculum connections. If you are an administrator that wants this type of learning in your school, you need to give your teachers and librarians some hands on learning experiences. New to making educators? It’s okay (in fact, it is IDEAL) to learn alongside your students!


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