Monday, July 6, 2015

Professional Reading--Should Students Have a Role in Professional Development?

Boss, Suzie (2015, February 26).  Should Students Have a Role in Professional Development?  Retrieved from

This article shows how professional development can come from anywhere!  Thinking outside the box can get teachers learning and experimenting within the community and with those they influence everyday.

How would you feel being taught by those who teach you?  Even if they know the subject inside-out, it could be intimidating.  However, some schools are seeing the benefit.  In Montana, students, who were knowledgeable in the technology of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), were used in a professional development program for staff.  The students were to plan and facilitate the lesson, which ended up being a hands-on learning experience for the teachers (Boss, 2015).

I think this is important to consider because we never know where our learning can come from.  Perhaps the students may not be able to provide us with strong pedagogy reasoning for doing things a certain way, but they can show us tools and techniques, while also making sure that we see them in a different light.  This can foster empathy and make us think about how we plan units or assess (Boss, 2015).  

We did something similar to this a few years ago when we had students in the middle school teach sessions during professional development time.  Three students each taught a different lesson.  They were Prezi, Pinterest, and WeVideo.  It was very successful; the staff learned something, the students felt empowered, and they received an understanding for what planning for a lesson could entail.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Journey to the Student-Centered Makerspace

Waldron, Abbe (2015, February 5).  Journey to the Student-Centered Makerspace.  Retrieved from

Makerspaces is a huge trend in libraries, school and public.  Makerspaces is just like it sounds, a space to make.  Create, design, collaborate, construct, problem-solve, using technology or not.  “We wanted to create an environment where students could extend their learning, take risks, and build capacity as leaders (Waldron, 2015).”  Isn't this what we want for all our students?  A place to go beyond in the thought process?  To step into that critical thinking aspect and feel empowered while doing it?  And to plan properly to make sure that this could happen was key.  “It was important to consider how our program would fit with both the established core values of our school and our 21st century learning expectations...We knew it all began with the students (Waldron, 2015).”  Bringing the students into their own learning and creating their own expectations is crucial to the buy-in of learning.

Makerspaces have looked differently in the past.  Woods, home economics, mechanics class are all examples of makerspaces, however with technology playing a part, we see coding, video recording and editing, and 3-d printers entering the game.  Students learned as teachers learned, sometimes on youtube.  They took their skills and shared them with others to collaborate differently.  They saw what was being established in the makerspace and went their own direction.  They were inspired to create and design differently than what was being taught and that was encouraged.  This was a program done in the school library, and now “The makerspace is both a social and creative hub for our students in the library (Waldron, 2015).”  Teachers can use the makerspace if they want, but are not required to do so.

I love the concept of makerspaces and I know many fellow librarians who have taken that leap, old school and with low technology.  A elementary librarian is having students create plush dolls and animals.  All kids are loving it.  The older students are learning to make outfits on the sewing machine for these plush creatures.  There is a waiting list for this program that includes all ages and gender, and they do this during recess time.  What is it about makerspaces that has kids running to them?  “The makerspace experience has enriched the learning environment at our school and created a place where students are free to take risks and pursue their interests (Waldron, 2015).”  When students are invested, they will pursue, learn, challenge, and take chances.  This is what we want them to do.  This is how we can foster learning!