Library and Career & Technical Education collaborate on a MakerSpace

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by Lisa M. Ward, N.B.C.T., Librarian, Granby High School; Librarian, Granby Evening School, and Deborah K. Marshall, Department Chair, Career & Technical Education, Granby High School (VA)

For the last few years, we have been hearing about MakerSpaces in libraries and community centers. Because the library is the center of our school, and one of our most important communities in collaboration is CTE, most notably because of our digital connections, March offered a perfect opportunity for collaboration. It was, after all, National Craft Month. And, April 12th - 18th was National Library Week with one focus being “Share what you’ve made @ your library.”  Combining digital and digital (hands on) opportunities to make something in our space was a perfect combination.

First, we brainstormed a list of hands on and digital activities we knew students would like. The activities had to lead to products which could be easily completed in one sitting in the library. Depending on the complexity of the students’ designs and the range of talents and interests, some students could choose to complete them at home.  Some activities were quick so students could sample more than one station and students could always watch and learn and take home directions for the other projects.

Graphic novels and superhero movies are very popular, so we included “Create Your Own Superhero” at http://marvel.com/games/play/31/create_your_own_superhero  where students could create their own Superhero. They can also spend more time and combine heroes to create their own graphic novels, or even just cool covers for their notebooks.

A second quick activity was a poet’s corner where students could create a found poem by copying a page from their favorite novel and blacking out or highlighting words to create a poem. Paper, glue markers were available for personalizing. Tagxedo, www.tagxedo.com/, gave students the opportunity to choose an image or outline and fill it with meaningful words. It was perfect for making Mother’s Day cards.

For an activity which is both novel and nostalgic at the same time, Fashion teacher, Peney Williams, taught kids to knit. Peney supplied the historical background of knitting as well as lessons on how to cast on and off and a few basic stiches. She also had patterns and items she had created to inspire the future knitters. The library supplied encouragement, a little basic help with some dropped stiches and a list of websites students could access for free patterns and how to videos such as http://www.allfreeknitting.com/ and http://www.knittinghelp.com/

Books became art when Julie Groman, who teaches sculpture and crafts, helped students to use scissors, glue, and paint to turn “weeded” books into personal masterpieces. Student samples throughout the library as well as a list of websites which could be accessed from laptops near their makerspace helped to inspire students. This site offers images http://www.inspirationgreen.com/art-from-old-books.html. A cool, six minute TED talk shows how students can “remix” the printed word to create art. http://www.ted.com/talks/brian_dettmer_old_books_reborn_as_intricate_art?language=en#t-82309

Origami was an easy choice because those books fly off the library shelves, and everyone loves to fold paper into shapes. We found out that one of our library aides and CTE students who recently moved here from China had learned how to speak English by talking to students who came up while he was creating origami flowers and creatures. He was our folding expert for the day. As other resources, we had books and websites such as http://www.origami-instructions.com./ and http://www.origami-resource-center.com/.

For the last block of the day, special education classes participated creating the same projects with just a little more help.  Special education teachers, paras, and student volunteers helped the special guests create their own superhero, later printed and laminated for display at their homes and create origami dogs and ladybugs. To end the day student volunteers walked them to the auditorium for a special performance courtesy of the theatre department.

We have had a number of teachers excitedly volunteer their talents for next year. We will be making in our space several times in next year.

Students were asked to reflect on their experiences and we were excited about their responses because we knew that they “got” what we were trying to do.

  • "My grandmother taught me to knit when I was a bit younger. This experience has helped me relearn how to knit. I think that this was a wonderful experience and if I can I will do it again. Knitting seems to be a social activity and it really helps you bond with others. I think I still like sports more, but I think that this will soon be a new hobby of mine. It’s a productive yet fun experience and I think many people would like it." - Ivy Barnes          
  • "When I first heard I was going to be knitting, I wasn’t excited at all. The whole idea of knitting sounded boring, but once I got the hang of it I really enjoyed it. I still am more into sports, but knitting is very relaxing and I think it is great that I got the opportunity to try it out and get the feel of it. I wasn’t very good but everything takes practice. I don’t really think I will be in to it but I’m happy I got the chance to experiment with it." - Olivia Casey
  • "Last class we did origami.  It was all about patience.  It was creative and fun.  The best part about it was that the origami was with steps so you had to pay 100% attention." - Gary Montgomery
  • "I think the activity we did was cool and a different way of interacting with our peers as we did origami." - Kendall Green
  • "I realized after last call origami is a lot harder than I previously thought.  I do enjoy it.  The amount of things you can make with paper is enormous." - John Banks II
  • "Last class we participated with an art class on an origami project.  We were provided with a couple designs and also given access to a computer where we could look up more designs.  My brother and I collaborated together to make a very nice origami piece.  Overall, it was a very nice and productive day." - Chase Anderson

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