Posts Tagged ‘maker space’


Two Articles

September 9, 2016

Arts Ed Partnership Arts Ed Digest articles

Writer, Stacy Teicher Khadaroo looks at how arts education is increasingly being considered as an effective way of fostering creativity and critical thinking skills. The School that Art Saved includes information about the pre-K-8 Roosevelt School located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The classroom description includes learners engaged and focused on learning – not a focus on the test. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t measuring their success since they’ve infused arts education into the instruction. In fact, they’ve scaled back on the testing. “The school has gone from being one of the lowest performing in Connecticut to a significantly improved institution: Disciplinary infractions are down, academic performance is up, and both parent and teacher pride in the school are increasing.” CLICK HERE to read the entire article published in the Christian Science Monitor.


Maker Space at Dyer Elementary School, South Portland

You’ve been hearing about the “Maker Movement” and in fact, I visited schools last spring to learn more about what’s going on in Maine on the topic. Vermont educator, Cynthia Day wrote an editorial called Why Making and the Arts Need Each Other to Survive and Thrive in Schools and explores why they can’t survive on their own. Partnering with the arts can provide for a powerful teaching and learning environment that can help transform schools for this time period we live in.

Cynthia’s list for “Making mentality,”:

  • Creativity: Making engages a student’s mind creatively and practically. The senses are engaged as emotions and thoughts are shared in community with others.
  • Technical Skills: In Maker culture, engineering skills develop without always needing to be explicitly taught. Tools used in the world outside of school are put into the students’ hands.Time seems to fly by, and students don’t want to put away their work.
  • Collaboration: Real problems are solved and social groups are formed around relevant, challenging endeavors.
  • Reflection: Reflection happens as students discuss their progress and wonder aloud about the possibilities.

CLICK HERE to read the entire piece that was published in Edsurge.  Cynthia Day is an educator at Barre Town Middle and Elementary School in Vermont.


Thinking Creative Spaces

March 18, 2016

Trip to South Portland


The Dyer School entrance

I’ve been on a quest lately to find STEAM types of teaching and learning in Maine. The responses to my “call” have been wide and varied. Recently I traveled to South Portland, specifically to the beautiful and welcoming Dyer Elementary School where the Library Media Integrator, Megan Blakemore is at home (and very excited) in the Maker Space. I’ve read about Maker Spaces and even a book about the concept but they don’t compare with the engagement of student learning that I observed. The school has 250 students, grades K-5.

The space is set up in stations where students are naturally challenging themselves to creatively problem solve through a variety of avenues. The teacher is the guide on the side, allowing the students to own their learning and learn from each other. Getting messy is part of the learning. The room looks similar to an art room with boxes of colorful parts, wooden pieces, and stuff stacked in corners standing ready when needed. Principal Elizabeth Fowler explained how the school is addressing the developmental needs in the student-centered environment and leveraging the maker space as part of that learning tool. The ideas extend into the classrooms and in some cases becoming woven into curriculum content. It is a philosophical shift that includes process versus product and failing forward; these take shape slowly.


PBS The Design Process

In the beginning 5th grade students were asked what they wanted the learning space to look like and include. They made drawings labeling their ideas. Many of them have been incorporated into the space, like an area with legos (lots of them in all colors) in the Fab Lab area. They are using the PBS Design Process; Identify Problem, Brainstorm, Design – Build, Redesign, Test & Evaluate – Share Solution as the overarching concept in the Maker Space. I visited during Tinker Time where students have choices of Challenges.

The greater community members are invited in as Visitor Makers; sharing their knowledge in multiple ways. A group of students approached the principal wanting to be Visitor Makers and put their idea in writing to be considered. The kids are really beginning to own the space and idea. Learning buddies between grade levels encourages the idea that we are all learners and teachers.

Plans are underway for a Creation Station which is a Maker Space on wheels so when the space is not available teachers can still have access to the materials including 2 carts of iPad minis. Megan has collaborated with teachers to connect their learning through literacy; reading, writing, and making books.


Megan Blakemore


Principal Elizabeth Fowler plays an integral role in the Maker Space

Dyer School is filled with permanent and temporary student artwork in the halls.

Dyer School is filled with permanent and temporary student artwork in the halls.

I want to visit again when the art teacher, Margaret Burman, will be melting down scraps of crayons with 5th graders to make into hearts to sell and raise money for a foundation that is making 3D printing hands If you have a Maker Space or something similar in your school please let me know, I’d love to visit others.

Thank you Megan for inviting me! If you have any questions about the Maker Space at Dyer School please contact Megan at

%d bloggers like this: