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April 6, 2016

EdTech News

What to Make of Makerspaces

Makerspaces have been popping up in schools across the country for the last few years and Alabama is no different. According to Edutopia, "Makerspaces provide hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent as they deeply engage in science, engineering and tinkering." A common misconception about Makerspaces, however, is the belief that they must be heavy in technology. This is not true. By focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering,the Arts and Technology), schools can begin a Makerspace on a relatively small budget and still develop an interactive and engaging program.

Another misconception is the "space" in Makerspace. Schools have successfully launched Makerspaces in an empty classroom, an unused storage area, a corner of a library or classroom. But there have been just as many successful launches of 'portable' or 'pop-up' Makerspaces. Check out these examples:

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In their 2013 book Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom, Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager introduced the TMI Model for Makerspaces. They encourage teachers to teach students to follow the "Think, Make, and Improve" model as it "encourages flexibility, collaboration, and reflection while still propelling students forward in their projects."

The Makerspace idea can cross multiple curricular areas, but obviously is a perfect fit for Math, Science and Technology. The inherent presence of STEM/STEAM in the Makerspace movement provides an outstanding foundation for engaging students that may otherwise lack interest in these subjects. And there may be no better way to integrate engineering into today's elementary and middle schools that allowing kids to 'engineer' solutions to the problems that they think up.

For more on Makerspaces in Education, check out http://makered.org/makerspaces/.

Forward OneNote

Why you need to make your curriculum a little STEAMier!

Watch for Alabama Schools!

STEAM Education Program Overview

We are still looking for recommendations of the favorite apps and resources of AMSTI Specialists and Teachers!

The Big Tech Coach

Keith George, the Big Tech Coach, is the Educational Technology Specialist for the Alabama Math, Science & Technology Initiative (AMSTI) of the Alabama State Department of Education. An educator with over 20 years experience in integrating technology into the classroom and coaching others to do the same, Keith is working to complete his dissertation on Instructional Technology Coaching in Alabama. Keith is a Google certified educator, a Symbaloo PD Pro, and an ALEX Certified Trainer. Keith also serves as an adjunct faculty member for the Auburn University Montgomery School of Education and is a co-founder of EdCamp Montgomery.