Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Contribute to the conversation! Let us know your questions about maker learning and leadership.
How did you get schools to make the changes needed to integrate maker learning?
by Pam Moran
Superintendent, Albemarle County Public Schools,
First, we don’t try to change the whole system in one fell swoop. Instead, we begin with small prototype invention projects with staff teams who are open to taking risks and are problem solvers so that, when challenges emerge, they are willing to figure out how to get around barriers. Second, we begin to expand teams inside and outside the school to learn how to use tools, try out project work, get access to supportive coaching. Third, we make the work systemic in PD, strategic planning, and operational support. As a result we have maker educators in every school and our kids make to learn as well as learn to make in the context of core curricular classes, library commons work, and arts and CTE programs. We commit time, resources and support to move from innovation to strategic work. This process applies to any change initiative.
Why should we focus on maker learning?
by Justin Aglio
Director of Academic Achievement and District Innovation, Montour School District
Rather than only focusing on the “how” and “what” of maker learning, it is important to focus on “why” maker learning. As educators, our goal is to excite students in the learning process and make learning relevant. Maker learning is a platform we use to shift pedagogy of teacher-centered classrooms into learner-centered classrooms.
“The makerspace gives teachers new ways to inspire children. It allows for creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. Maker activities are a means to integrate hands-on learning through experimentation, building and collaboration.” -Holly Rippole, first grade teacher at Montour Elementary School
What do I need to buy?
by Lori Stahl-Van Brackle
Instructional Technology Director, Manhattan Field Support Center/NYCDOE
Administrators are always thinking about budget but I answer with a series of questions: Do you have a space? Do you have an educator to work in that space? Do you have scissors, tape, and paper? Making doesn’t require high tech equipment, scissors are tech after all. It does require a vision that can and will grow if you provide a space and a dedicated educator who is given the freedom to develop a Making curriculum and the support of the administration. High tech tools will come later, after the low tech successes.
How do you get teachers to use your makerspace if it isn’t required?
by Kelly O’Connell Bird
Lower School Principal, Friends’ Central School
Before we opened our makerspace, I engaged a committee of teachers and administrators in the planning process. Possibly the most important decision we made as a committee was that maker education would be organically integrated into the curriculum and coming to our makerspace would not be required or scheduled as a special class. Throughout the spring before the space opened, the committee provided opportunities for teachers to engage in maker education. I share 5 things we have done to make sure that, although using the makerspace is not required, teachers see the benefit and on their own accord find ways in which the spaces and the tools available will enhance their curriculum and what they are doing with students.
5 Steps to Integrating Maker Ed into the Lower School Curriculum
- Scheduling for collaboration. Blocks of an hour and a half for classroom teachers provide more chance for connections between homeroom teachers and specialist teachers and the possibility of for interdisciplinary projects to take place. Collaboration takes time to plan and execute well. Teachers need time to hear what one another is doing.
- An integrated curriculum. Being committed to creating connections between the disciplines allows children to have a more meaningful understanding of what they are learning.
- A designated person. Our makerspace director is charged with knowing what every class is doing. Part of her job is to say to teachers, “That is a great idea and… have you thought of this?” She is continuously extending the possibilities for teachers and training them in how to use all of the different tools and technologies that are available.
- A scope and sequence for coding. Making sure every student has exposure to programming technologies allows them to choose from wider range of options when doing independent projects.
- Shared commitment to learning through making. Opportunities to understand maker education and its educational benefits need to be provided not just for teachers and students, but for parents and community members.
How do you create a makerspace?
by Gina Silveira
Director of Curriculum, Old Adobe Union School District
My answer? You don’t. You create a maker mindset. Too often we are consumed by “the stuff” and “the space”. We tend to think that if we have a makerspace students can access, then maker learning automatically happens. I argue that in order to create “makers,” we need to first build a maker mindset in teachers and staff who then bring that mindset INTO the classroom. It is there that we see the ambition, the drive, the creativity, the resiliency, and the endless opportunities for students to become leaders of their learning in all aspects of the curriculum. The makerspace is a great place to hold all of the tools and materials, but the classroom is where the real “making” should happen. It is also important to have a superintendent and site leaders who embrace the maker mindset themselves. This is essential in growing maker learning district-wide.
What is the importance of the K-12 digital fabrication curriculum and how does it connect to the real world?
by Todd Keruskin
Assistant Superintendent, Elizabeth Forward School District
At Elizabeth Forward School District, parents often ask the importance of the K-12 digital fabrication curriculum and how this connects to the real world.
Our administrative team and teachers explain to the parents about 21 st Century Skills students need for future jobs and how maker learning helps students be more creative, more innovative and more collaborative on design challenges. We also explain to parents the need for students to understand at an early age how to use technology for additive and subtractive manufacturing. We discuss with the parents the industrial age and traditional woodshop, where students made 200 birdhouses that looked exactly the same. Today in the conceptual age, we give students a design challenge in a FABLab and students work through the design thinking process to prototype, design, and make.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- ShareAlike 4.0 International License.