BLOGS  >  SEPTEMBER 13, 2018

Makerspaces and the Curriculum: Best Practices for Transforming Learning


Enjoy this recorded presentation by Shannon Mersand and Sheri McNair as they present a hands-on presentation about Makerspaces that any 21st-century educator will find fascinating. These experienced librarians provide many useful ideas as they share their knowledge on how to transform learning using Makerspaces.

Watch Recording 

Together, Sheri and Shannon began presenting as a team in 2014 at Tech & Learning Live, NY on transforming learning spaces. They continue to present at T&L Live each year, as well as at other regional and national learning conferences, focusing on transforming learning and library spaces to meet the ever-evolving needs of learners. Their aforementioned annual hands-on Makerspace Boot Camp, sponsored by the School Library Media Specialists of Southeastern New York, is now offered for graduate credit through Adams State University.

The most important thing to know is that making and Makerspaces are more than just buzzwords--making is not just arts and crafts or 3-D printers. Making creates cross-curricular connections and opportunities for collaboration between teachers, librarians, community members and local businesses. Making doesn’t happen in isolation, it is a collaborative, social way of learning about yourself and the world around you. There are strong connections between Makerspaces and national learning standards, including Common Core, AASL, ISTE and Next Generation Science Standards, among others. Students build skills in all three learning domains –  affective, cognitive and psychomotor – as they work together to solve problems, build prototypes and pursue personal interests.

Shannon and Sheri have worked with classroom teachers in Math, Science, English Language Arts, Foreign Language, Special Education, Health, Physical Education, Social Studies, Computer Science, Art and the Performing Arts. They have created design activities that help students realize learning standards and objectives in a cross-curricular fashion.

Makerspace activities can and should be assessed, but not with tests and quizzes as you may be used to. Focusing on the process, rather than the product, allows for formative assessment in the way that traditional summative assessment does not. It allows the learners to change tactics and take different routes to achieve their objectives.

Shannon and Sheri are passionate about sharing what they have learned working with teachers and librarians, not only in their own schools, but throughout the world. They can help you transform making from being a space in your school to being a sound part of the curriculum.

Watch Recording

Shannon and Sheri run their own “Makerspace Bootcamp” in New York State and have garnered a popular following. Here’s a little bit about them:

Shannon Mersand

Shannon began her Makerspace in 2013, when she installed a Genius Bar where students could come for help with technology problems in the library. After rearranging the library, she began to add maker stations at different times of the year, including LEGOS, K’NEX and other simple activities. After seeing how much students enjoyed engaging in maker-style learning, she added a 3-D printer and began to formalize her space. By the 2016-2017 school year, her Makerspace had grown to be able to accommodate full classes making at the same time, which allowed her to expand collaborations with classroom teachers, bridging the divide between traditional classroom learning and making.

Shannon’s passion for Makerspaces led her to design graduate-level courses on making in the curriculum, and to take a sabbatical from her job as a school media specialist to begin pursuing her PhD in Information Science. Her intended dissertation topic will focus on Makerspaces and their perceived social, emotional and cognitive effects on users.

Sheri McNair

Sheri added a formal Makerspace area in her library in the 2016-2017 school year, though she has been using pop-up makerspace stations since 2014, which included coding, circuitry, LEGOS, robotics, engineering kits, upcycling and more. Sheri has also been collaborating with classroom teachers to find ways that the materials and products in her Makerspace can support goals and objectives of the teachers and the district.

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