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2015 July

23

Jul
2015

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Notes from the Makerspace: MakerCamp

On 23, Jul 2015 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

I just got done teaching a week of Makerspace Camp and I am exhausted! I had 13 kids and three hours each day. Thankfully I had the classroom all to myself, unlike during the school year, so I was able to leave the bins of supplies out on the counters and floor. That made things So. Much. Easier. Clean up took about 10 minutes and consisted mostly of sweeping. I thought I would take a few minutes to share what we did, my thoughts on how it went in case anyone out there wants to try this out, and document it for myself.

Because I had the kids for three hours I decided it was necessary to split up our time and give them a set activity for part of the day. I don’t usually like to tell the kids what to make and I was pretty lax about requiring them to work on the project. A few kids asked to work on something else and so long as they had at least tried the activity I let them. My purpose was to expose them to some materials and ideas and spark their imaginations. The first 15 minutes was a welcome and a introduction to what we would be doing. Then the first hour was the set project. We would break for a 15 minute snack and then have free making for the last hour and a half (which was the length of my class during the year and a good amount of time to get going on a project of their choosing).

Two things that were really interesting to see, first that kids who had not been in the Makerspace during the school year figured out what to do pretty quickly. I got maybe one or two requests for something to do. Amazing! Second, with the exception of two boys who came during the year and always made weapons replicas, the projects the kids made were completely different from what the kids made last year.

I also saw group dynamics in action. My two boys who always make weapons were there, but the third boy from their group was not and they were A LOT calmer and on task. It isn’t the other boy per se, just the addition of the third person in the group that pulls them off task more. On the last day one of the boys was not there, the one who is really interested in WWII and weapons from that era, and the other boy chose not to make weapons and did several other interesting projects. I need to find a way to encourage him to try his own ideas out and explore his own interests and not feel like he has to do exactly what his friend is doing.

Here was the schedule of projects and few notes:

Monday: Rube Goldberg Machines. I put out marble runs, cars, dominoes, blocks, marbles, and gave them access to our recycled materials. This is always a popular activity and this time resulted in some carnival games. We watched the Okay Go video of This Too Shall Pass.

Tuesday: Sculptures. I put out tin foil, marshmallows and toothpicks, and newspaper to be rolled into tubes. This one was hard for them and only held their interest for 45 minutes or so.

Wednesday: Stop motion videos. I used the app Stop Motion Studio loaded onto iPads. I put out clay, toys, and gave them access to the recycled materials. We also watched a ton of videos for inspiration. This took a few of them a little time to figure out, but we got some incredible videos considering the limitations of the materials and the fact that all these kids are 10 or under. A few of them choose to keep making the videos for the rest of the week.

Thursday: Movie day. We watched Big Hero 6, a movie all about makers and popped popcorn. I also put out a lot of bits and bobs, including tons of computer parts and told them they could make robots if they wanted. I have never seen kids so entranced by a movie.

Friday: Slime Kitchen. I’ve blogged a tiny bit about it here. It was messy and glorious. Surprisingly even my fifth graders were totally into this.

01

Jul
2015

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Quick Thoughts on ALA Annual, Diversity, and Collection Development

On 01, Jul 2015 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

So I just got back from ALA Annual in San Francisco. I’ve been two other times, but this is the first time I’ve been and had a real purpose. I wanted to visit sessions that might be pertinent to my library and I wanted to get posters and bookmarks and things to give away to the kids this year as little prizes. I also ended up picking up a bunch of ARCs to read and give to the kids.

This being the first time I’ve really gone around looking for ARCs and books to buy I wasn’t clear on how exactly the exhibits worked, but now I feel like a I have a handle on it. And now I see what people mean by how white all the books are and what they mean when they say to ask publishers for their diverse books. I get it now.

I wish I had done that this year. I wish I had been quicker on the uptake when it came to figuring out how the publishers give out ARCs. But we plan on going to Orlando next year and I will be way more selective about picking up diverse books then. I am glad though, because the books I bought and had signed (for our home collection and for our library collection) were almost all diverse (the exceptions being a hamster, a Scottish folktale because we are Scottish, and a writing prompt picture book).

My plan this year is to be buying primarily diverse books for the library. There are a few series and a few titles we need to replace that aren’t, but by and large my collection development selections will feature diversity. We have a very strong core collection and don’t need the latest and greatest shiny new books. Sure, we need a few (when the kids ask for them or if they are actually worthwhile), but I want the latest and greatest shiny diverse books to make our collection great.

As a side note, I am teaching two summer school classes over the next two weeks (Makerspace and sewing) so I won’t be posting, but I will post one or two things in the last weeks of July.

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