Becoming a Maker Librarian- Field Experience from Brandi Grant

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Last week, I posted about my Maker Ed training on Edutopia. Then a few days later, this email came to my inbox. I love the way this teacher librarian, Brandi Grant, describes her first experience of teaching herself how to make a scribblebot without assistance and then making scribblebots alongside her students. Thank you, Brandi for sharing your story and letting me post your reflection! All of this below is written by Brandi Grant, amazing teacher librarian in Frisco ISD!

Brandi’s Reflection on Scribble Bots

“Last week, during the advisory period, I hosted a Scribble Bot session for 2 days(6th on Tues and 7/8 on Thursday).  Students signed up and I had 30 min to teach 20 of them in groups of 2 how to make them.  Below are some of my ramblings:

Set up

It really helped that everything was set up prior to the sessions.  I tried to anticipate everything that was needed to make the session go smooth and I didn’t want to spend time out of my 30 min trying to grab items for everyone.  The most important thing to have at each table is a pair of scissors and tape.

Did Students Come? Did it go okay?

OMG, the kids came- I thought that I had it all together until they came in and it was time to do it.  I got super nervous because they were asking so many questions, all at once, and wanted me to help them individually.  I got overwhelmed and I just relied on the video I’d watched to remind me of the basics.

Honestly, there were many failures when most of students put it together the first time.  

At first, I was disappointed, but I remembered that a couple of days ago, I tried to make one by myself, for the first time, and it just wasn’t working.  I messaged Colleen Graves expecting for her to tell me exactly what to do to make it work but she didn’t!!

She gave me some things to think about, especially propulsion.

Initially, I had the students use play dough at the end of the motor because in the video I watched, that was used, but it just fell off.   In order to make it go, it has to be off balance,  and Colleen suggested that I add a piece of glue stick (from the hot glue gun) to the end of my motor…

And then she stopped.

Again, I was expecting for her to tell me: how much, where to put it….. and crickets…

I had to figure it out myself. AND I DID! Then, I started to think about what else I could use to help my bot propel faster, make a straight line, and make a perfect circle.

So, Colleen was in my head when the same thing happened with the kids.

I explained about propulsion, gave them tape and a little bit of glue stick, and told them to figure it out…..

And guess what?

They did too! Quickly, they came up with other things that they could use to help their bots propel.

Soon, I heard squeals, laughter, and these amazing conversations about “What if We?”

Students started to realize that there were so many possibilities and they wanted to make their very own that they can take home, so I gave them a shopping list and told them to ask their parents to order the items using their Amazon accounts and to look in their homes for possible items.  In a couple of weeks, we’re going to get together with their items and build again.  Our goal is to hook them together and use different items for the bodies.

Student Ideas on Propulsion

The students figured out if they slant the legs of the markers a bit, the scribble bot would make the perfect circle.  If the legs are straighter, they make lines.  The kids used several things connected to the motor so that it would propel (taped paperclips, play dough, a piece of a glue stick from a hot glue gun, a wad of tape, the cap of the marker with tape, big clothes pins, small clothes pins)

The Aftermath

The library was wrecked!  There wasn’t enough time to have students clean up and the bell rang for school to be out.

As I stood there, I started to cry.

Not because it was going to take me about 30 min to clean up, by myself.  It was because as the students were leaving, they were telling me thank you, hugging me, running up to students who didn’t sign up telling them what they built. I was so nervous and worked up because I didn’t want to fail and I didn’t want the kids to fail BUT the failure and figuring out how to make it work was all part of the process.  When Colleen talked to us about it during the inservice, I listened but didn’t understand until I had that experience.


Attached is my Instagram, you’ll be able to see the pictures of the kids and the video, the voice you hear in the background is me screaming like a crazy woman because I was so excited.

I owe this experience to Colleen Graves, she is changing the way that libraries and librarians are viewed and I have definitely bought in with the Makerspace movement but I’m going to take it slow and work on one thing at a time.  If you read this to the end, thanks for your dedication and for putting up with my scattered thoughts.”

Thank you so much for letting me share this reflection, Brandi! I love the way you articulated how a maker educator helps nudge students’ thinking and exploring possibilities ! Brava!

Making, Literacy, and Maker PD- Guest post on Edutopia


As an educator that taught in the English Language Arts classroom for almost a decade, I love exploring and playing with vocabulary and literacy. To me I see making as a logical blend of inquiry and literacy. That’s why I see the library as the perfect place to implement a makerspace in a school.



Exploring Literacy

So when I host maker-focused professional development for teachers and librarians, I think it’s important for other educators to explore literacy and “maker” terminology in a playful context. However, it is equally important for all educators to realize that over-defining making and tinkering will close off avenues for our students (Don’t over-define a “makerspace” as a place with only high- tech equipment and close off crafts and creating with cardboard). Instead, we explore terminology as a way to think, learn, and interact playfully with words.  To do this, I have participants create maker journals to hold their learning.

“I think my new description of “making” includes “screwing up.” But also, “having fun. It’s important to remember that making includes screwing up, otherwise the fear (that I can’t do this) could take over.” – Amy Fletcher

You can read my whole post on Crafting Professional Development for Maker Educators over on Edutopia!


Documentation and Reflection

Another way these journals hold the learning is by giving educators (and students!) a time and a place to reflect. In case you missed it in the article, I love the way Amos Blanton, LEGO researcher and Manager of the LEGO Idea Studio, articulates the importance of documentation and reflection when learning through play in this video:

Teacher definition explorations from my workshops:

Since the definition explorations aren’t included in the article, I thought you might enjoy reading some of them here:


  • “Creating in a unique way with readily available materials.”
  • “Seeing things through new eyes”
  • “Discovery”
  • “Playing to learn”
  • “Making is messy”
  • “Exploring and creating”
  • “Creating by tinkering and exploration”
  • “ Risking failure helps you learn”
  • “Is writing making? Putting together words to create?”


  • “Making sense of nonsense”
  • “Building to discover something new”
  • “Playing around with something to see how it works”
  • “Exploring with no clear path”

Design Challenge

  • “There is no right or wrong! Have Fun!”
  • “Ask students to create something by trial and error.”

Design Thinking

  • “Human centered design”
  • “Using the principles of design when solving a problem.”
  • “Process of creating, changing, and reattempting an idea.”
  • “Identify problem , question, brainstorm solutions, develop prototypes, test with users”

Invention Literacy Article Explorations

  • “I forget that re-invention is a part of invention. We can always make it better.”
  • “This is a real world lesson for kids on responsibility. You can create for the greater good of society.”
  • “Inventing has it’s own language, grammar rules, just like any language.”
  • “Thinking of inventing as pieces makes it more approachable and possible.”
  • “Becoming invention literate creates confidence.”
  • “Encouraging exploration and curiosity decreases fear of the world and each other.”
  • “Inventions are the birth of trial and error-things we cannot live without.”



Hands-On Learning

Plus if you are interested in the types of hands on learning I offer in my workshops. Here is a sampling of activities that educators experience in my sessions and then reflect upon in their maker journals:

Food for Thought

As an aside: I noticed a couple of years ago that”tinkering” has a host of negative definitions. Quite recently I discovered this excellent quote by Resnick and Rosenbaum and would like you to think about this engaging way of learning:

“The tinkering approach is characterized by a playful, experimental, iterative style of engagement, in which makers are continually reassessing their goals, exploring new paths, and imagining new possibilities. Tinkering is undervalued (and even discouraged) in many educational settings today, but it is well aligned with the goals and spirit of the progressive-constructionist tradition—and, in our view, it is exactly what is needed to help young people prepare for life in today’s society.” (Resnick and Rosenbaum in Designing for Tinkerability)