Anne Mlod

I am a school librarian at a K-6 elementary school in Auburn, NY. My school has approximately 400 students. I am passionate about helping students become lifelong learners and responsible global citizens.

Creating a Maker Space in an Elementary School Library

I am passionate about making my elementary school library for k-6 students become a place of creation, rather than just consumption, so I have purchased the items to create a makerspace. The materials include low tech items (origami paper, dowels, string, etc) as well as high tech (robots, circuit kits, 3d printers) materials. It is relatively easy to purchase the materials needed for a makerspace, however, the effective use of the makerspace program should be based on set goals, research, and input and feedback from both teachers and students.

For my action research,  I would like to investigate the following question:

How can I run my library makerspace so that it is used effectively at all grade levels?

This action research is important because the role of the library and librarian in schools is continually shifting to meet the needs of students and teachers. The revised American Library Association Standards were released in the Fall of 2017, and focus on inquiry learning and equitable access. I hope my work will help others in making the shift to a maker culture.

Action Research takes place over time introducing well planned actions, collecting data, analyzing and reflecting on the outcomes which leads to new questions and new actions. These cycles continue and often after a few cycles, the researcher is ready to report their findings.  On this site we developing our insight as we work so this is report that will be continually revised as I work. 

Important to action research is keeping a journal so that change can be documented.  My blog can be found at   www.actionresearchblog.weebly.com

Cycle 1: Building the Teacher Community

My action research takes place in a K-6 school library in a Title 1 school located in a small city in upstate New York. I have been teaching therein the role of school librarian for over sixteen years.  Over the past ten years, a paradigm shift has been taking place in school libraries around the country,  shifting their focus from providing resources and supporting research projects to providing learning environments that support inquiry, exploration and creation.

There are seven libraries in my school district; five K-6 elementary, one 7-8 middle school and one 9-12 high school. Last summer, one of the elementary librarians and I decided to pursue a grant to purchase materials for a library makerspace, an area of the library where students can problem solve and create, using legos, circuit kits, robots, paper, markers, scissors, and craft materials.  
Student engagement while using the makerspace materials is high, and I have offered teachers the option of sending their students at the end of the day to use the materials. In December, students used the makerspace to participate in the iEARN Global Holiday Card exchange . We received cards from Russia, Canada, Belarus, Taiwan and Ukraine. Displaying these by the makerspace was a good way to bring positive attention to the area.

The first problem is that while we have created the physical space, there needs to be some structure or set of activites that invite the students into the make space.  These could be projects like we tried in Decemeber, or challenges, or school projects, or other global projects. Since my goal is to make this a school wide well used space, I decided I needed the help of the school teachers. 

My first cycle question is:
                           If I form a makerspace advisory committee of teachers, how will it affect
                           the use of the space and materials by both teachers and students?




In anticipation of this action I did a force field analysis from the online tutorials we are using. 

Forces for Change:
-Administrative support from Principal and Asst. Superintendent
-Increased student engagement with use of makerspace materials
-Next Gen Science standards will require teachers to consider hands on materials like those in the makerspace
-New American Library Association Standards focus on inquiry and support makerspace environment in library
-Recent change in library schedule opens up library on Fridays from 12:30-3:15pm

Forces Against Change:
-Teachers have no time for “extra things”
-Teachers don’t have (aren’t making) time to teach science
-Lack of clerical support in library to maintain organization and supervision of materials
-Lack of time to catalog resources
-Lack of time to connect Next Gen Science standards to materials
-Not all district librarians support the idea of a library makerspace