Heading to Madison: Ready to Learn!


Ready for adventure? Affirmative. Uncharted and unknown territory ahead! Let’s go!

Today my sister Lisa and I packed up our suitcases, devices and chargers, and drove to Madison, Wisconsin for the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute. We soon will be joining other educators, librarians, designers and those interested in the application of digital technology in learning, and together will explore praxis, identity and networks.

As I completed my suggested reading assignments earlier this week for the networks track, I was impressed by the applicability of the articles and was moved to consider the effects that digital networking has had on my life, both professionally and personally. The invitation to be an onsite buddy at DigPedLab with Virtually Connecting has already provided a learning and application opportunity.  As onsite buddies, my sister and I will host Google Hangout sessions for virtual and onsite conference attenders and speakers throughout the week.

Our experience began with an initial meeting, where, from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, we joined Maha Bali in Egypt, Rebecca Hogue in California, and AK in Boston. The group planned the initial schedules and roughly outlined what would happen during this weeklong institute. I quickly became immersed in GoogleDocs, email activity, tweets and retweets, and interactive messenger discussions. I was participating in and building on a digital network and loved it. I was learning and growing with people I had never met in a face to face environment. I’m looking forward to further building those networks, and connecting with others, in addition to exploring the ways that networks enhances the learning environment in the sessions.

Graphic Organizers and Students with ASD: Supporting Learning


As described by the organization Autism Speaks, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors” (“What is Autism?”). According to Whalon & Hart (2011), “despite variation in reading development associated with ASD, studies consistently show that students with ASD who are able to read frequently have difficulty interpreting text” (p. 243). Furthermore, their research indicates that poor reading comprehension results correlate with low vocabulary and oral language scores (Whalon & Hart, 2011, p. 243).

In order to improve the learning environment for students with ASD, teachers must provide access to vocabulary development, and strategies that will support text comprehension and promote conversation. One way to accomplish this is through the use of graphic organizers.

Hart & Whalon (2008) list graphic organizers as one of 20 strategies educators can utilize to facilitate learning of students with ASD.  Graphic organizers support students, and especially those with ASD, by highlighting concepts and illustrating relationships between them. Furthermore, these organizers assist students in organizing their own ideas and creating a framework for understanding and discussion (Hart & Whalon, 2008, p. 116).

Poppet is a digital mind mapping tool that enables both students with ASD and educators to easily create graphic representations of learning. From developing vocabulary webs to story maps, students would be able to use this tool to demonstrate learning, build comprehension and access a support “to engage in the social aspects of reading and language arts instruction” (Whalon & Hart, 2011, p. 246).

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 7.37.15 PM

Popplet is a program that is available on both the iPad and via the web. There are free and paid versions. With a paid version, students are able to create multiple mind maps, which can be shared with collaborators.  In addition to concretely depicting the relationship between ideas, Poppet allows for the embedding of images, drawings and videos. This feature would support students with ASD in comprehension and vocabulary building. Since Popplets are able to be shared digitally, educators could create organizers specific to a task, and share them with students. If students did not have access to an email address, they could build their own Popplet based on a graphic representation of the map created by their teacher.

In addition to these features, Popplet has a simple interface that is easy to navigate across platforms, and would be accessible by students in an elementary school setting. Bubbles are added with a simple click, and color can be easily changed to further emphasize relationships between ideas. This tool could be shared and modeled via classroom SMARTboards.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhDMZv1P23Y]

Hart, Juliet E., and Kelly J. Whalon. “Promote Academic Engagement and Communication of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Inclusive Settings.” Intervention in School and Clinic 44.2 (2008): 116-20. ProQuest. Web. 23 May 2015.

Whalon, Kelly J., and Juliet E. Hart. “Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Literacy Instruction: An Exploratory Study of Elementary Inclusive Settings.” Remedial and Special Education 32.3 (2011): 243-55. ProQuest. Web. 23 May 2015.

What Is Autism? (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2015, from https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism

Baking as making: Final Thoughts


Oatmeal Cookies

Today I baked some cookies. And reflected on what I learned in CEP 811.  Check out this video that shows how baking and making are connected!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukrpU_C2QXs]

CEP 811 has affirmed my thinking about the importance of making and creativity on learning.  I still have questions about what my future makerspace will be, but I now have tools and resources to assist in the creation and integration of this space into the elementary school library.  Thanks CEP 811!

Assessing in a maker environment: a learning process

Scantron Test

Scantron Test

Learning. Testing. Feedback. On-going. Self-reflection. Formative. Summative. Rubric. Exit Slip. Standardized. These are some words that come to mind when I think about the concept of assessment.

Assessment is essential to learning.  When interrelated with curriculum and instruction, constant, appropriate assessment becomes a powerful tool to support student growth and learning (Harada & Yoshina, 2005).  Harada and Yoshina (2005) wrote that “this interactive concept of assessment is part of a larger paradigm shift in which learning and understanding are seen as a spiraling, student-focused process. In this process, assessment becomes critical in reshaping and reordering knowledge through action and reflection” (p. 1).

However, as I’ve read and learned throughout CEP 811, assessment in a maker environment can be nebulous and difficult. Sheridan and Halverson (2014) wrote that “perhaps the greatest challenge to embracing the maker movement in K-12 schools, especially in our current accountability environment, is the need to standardize, to define “what works” for learning through making” (p. 500).  Practically, how will I know that my elementary students are learning in the library makerspace, and how will I help them grow their creativity and critical thinking skills?



As an educator charged with student learning, I am learning how to assess creative problem solving during maker-inspired lessons.  In his blogpost, Wiggins (2012) urged educators to include creativity in the assessment process, and gave examples of rubrics that address this.  He maintained that students first must know the purpose of the creative task (which is not pleasing the teacher, by the way), and then reflect on their process and product in light of this purpose.  “This idea of focusing on impact is actually key to student autonomy, reflected in self-assessment and self-adjustment” (Wiggins, 2012).

Encouraged by Wiggins, I think that rubrics have a place in assessment of creative learning.  Rubrics can provide guidelines for expectations, and opportunities for student reflection.  Additionally, I would use reflection pieces, peer-critique, and informal assessment including exit slips, whiteboard notes, etc. to assess creative learning. I also read about students keeping a notebook of their experiences in a makerspace (Maker Media, 2013).  I think this would be a valuable and engaging tool for students to keep track of their own learning.

Rubrics, self-reflection, peer-critique and on-going formative assessment fits with constructivist learning theory and is supported by the ideas presented by a variety of researchers.  In constructivism, students learn best when they have ownership over their learning and can learn in a community (O’Donnell, 2012). Rubrics allow for student choice and student ownership.  Peer-critique allows students to learn from each other. Isselhardt (2014) compelled educators to make assessment meaningful to instruction.  These types of assessment fit with the nature of creative learning, and will not stifle that process, though the proper form of a rubric is essential.  In his video interview, Gee maintained that assessment needs to be consistent, continual and appropriate, as in a video game (Edutopia, 2010).  By having students record their learning after a makerspace session in their notebook, or leave a post-it with a question or idea learned enables the learning facilitator to monitor the learning process and know where more scaffolding is needed, or where more responsibility can be given.


Edutopia. (2010, July 20). James Paul Gee on grading with games. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU3pwCD-ey0

Halverson, E.R. & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495-465. Retrieved from /content/SS15/CEP/811/SS15-CEP-811-733-97EFZZ-EL-14-204/Halverson&Sheridan_MakerMovementinEducation_2014.pdf

Harada, V. H., & Yoshina, J. M. (2005). Assessing learning: Librarians and teachers as partners. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Isslehardt, E. (2013, February 11). Creating Schoolwide PBL Aligned to Common Core [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/PBL-aligned-to-common-core-eric-isslehardt

Maker Media. (Spring 2013). Makerspace playbook: School edition. Retrieved from http://makered.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Makerspace-Playbook-Feb-2013.pdf

O’Donnell, A. (2012). Constructivism. In APA Educational Psychology Handbook: Vol. 1. Theories, Constructs, and Critical Issues. K. R. Harris, S. Graham, and T. Urdan (Editors-in-Chief). Washgington, DC: American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/13273-003.

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/

Conclusion: #MakerEd in the school library is a good thing!

Making      +         Books      =   Learning

Having learned about and participated in the Maker Movement these past few weeks as part of CEP 811, I am convinced that making supports school library curriculum and will enhance the learning of my elementary students and staff.  I have read articles, blogposts, and book chapters, and watched TED talks, educational lectures and other presentations.  I have thought about learning space design, and was reminded of the complexities of learning theories.  I have experimented with maker kits and new software tools.  I even created an infographic here that explains what I have learned throughout this course.

Maker Ed in the School Library

Reference list

Ballard, S., Fontichiaro, K., & Sullivan, P. Think, create, share, grow: Setting the stage for collaborative inquiry [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://fontichiaro.com/uploads/2012/ala-environment.pdf

Halverson, E.R. & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495-465. Retrieved from /content/SS15/CEP/811/SS15-CEP-811-733-97EFZZ-EL-14-204/Halverson&Sheridan_MakerMovementinEducation_2014.pdf

Hlubinka, M. (2013, August 21). Stocking up school makerspaces. Retrieved from: http://makezine.com/2013/08/21/stocking-up-school-makerspaces/

Preddy, L. (2013). Creating school library “makerspace”. School Library Monthly, 29(5). Retrieved from https://teamhughmanatee.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/preddy-creating-school-library-e2809cmakerspacee2809d.pdf

Sheridan, K. Halverson, E.R., Litts, B.K., Brahms, L, Jacobs-Priebe, L., & Owens, T. (2014) Learning in the making: A comparative case-study of three maker spaces. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 505-565. Retrieved from /content/SS15/CEP/811/SS15-CEP-811-733-97EFZZ-EL-14-204/Sheridanetal_ComparativeCaseStudyofThreeMakerSpaces_2014.pdf

Learning Space Redesign: Looks really do matter …

Walking into the library at my elementary school, students and staff are surrounded by bookshelves, a colorful mural, and access to technology.  They are also able to spend time in three zones – a lounge in the fiction section, an open space by the picture book shelves, and a teaching area in the corner.  Currently this windowless teaching space has tables, old metal shelving and an interactive whiteboard.  While working with classes throughout the library, I have thought about this quadrant, and envision more happening here than is currently possible.  Imagine my delight when this week’s assignment for CEP 811 was to redesign a learning space.  Time to put my dreams down on paper – or at least on an electronic equivalent!

Current Teaching Corner

Current Teaching Corner

Current Teaching Corner - Side View

Current Teaching Corner – Side View

Right now, this area of the library is used for large group instruction, small group work, staff meetings and presentations.  Some collaboration takes place around the static tables, but primarily this space fits with the classroom model in which a teacher stands in front and delivers instruction to students. In thinking about the CEP 811 design challenge, I was inspired by The Third Teacher flash card #11 which says “Make it new.  Look at your learning space with 21st-century eyes: Does it work for what we know about learning today, or just for what we knew about learning in the past?” (OWP/P Architects, 2010, p. 57).  Based on what I have learned in this course, I want this library to be a flexible learning space that supports collaboration, creativity and 21st century learning.

For this week’s assignment, I used Sketchup to create a model of my dream for this collaborative space.

New Space - Side View

New Space – Side View

New Space - different side view

New Space – Other Side View

New Space - Top view

New Space – Top View

In this redesign, I would begin with the walls and remove the metal shelving, relocate the class sets of books housed there to another area of the school, and wrap the walls in a whiteboard-like wallpaper.  Students would be able to sketch out their ideas, storyboard digital projects, and take notes on these whiteboards.  They would be able to physically display their learning and get immediate feedback.  Additionally, three flat screen monitors would be mounted on the walls, which would mirror laptops and iPads that students and staff are using.  These monitors would become the hubs of collaboration work stations and small group instruction areas, and collectively would function as a presentation space.

The furniture in this re-design would be mobile.  Tables and chairs would be on casters, and would be easily moved by students and staff.  Students would have the opportunity to arrange the space in a way that best suits their learning.  If groups needed to work on a collaborative document, they could push tables up to the monitor.  If pairs needed to spend time in a quieter location, they could push a table to a different corner in the library.  The space would fit the needs of the users, and would not have a front.

This redesign fits what I have been learning in CEP 811.  The physical design of a space affects learning (Barrett, Zhang, Moffat & Kobbacy, 2013), so it is important to think about how furniture choices, layout and other features support students creating meaning and building understanding.  According to O’Donnell (2012), feedback, collaboration, agency and scaffolding are keys to learning in a constructivist view of education.   By having furniture that moves according to student choice, space to write down ideas (a natural formative assessment), authentic grouping opportunities, and technology access for scaffolded, personalized instruction, this redesign will promote the learning of the students and staff in my elementary school.

In order to implement this redesign, whiteboard wall covering and monitors would have to be purchased and installed. Furniture would have to be purchased, and current furniture and materials would have to be relocated.  Students and staff would need to be oriented to the space, and collaborative lessons would need to be modeled for the staff. This project would have a price tag of around $13,000, and would need support from the PTA, building administration, SIP team members, district technology staff, and the staff and students of the elementary school.  However, the benefits to the learning of everyone would indeed be priceless.


Barrett, P., Zhang, Y., Moffat, J., & Kobbacy, K. (2013). A holistic, multi-level analysis identifying the impact of classroom design on pupils’ learning. Building and Environment, 59, 678-689. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2012.09.016

O’Donnell, A. (2012). Constructivism. In APA Educational Psychology Handbook: Vol. 1. Theories, Constructs, and Critical Issues. K. R. Harris, S. Graham, and T. Urdan (Editors-in-Chief). Washgington, DC: American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/13273-003.

OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design. (2010). The third teacher: 79 ways you can use design to transform teaching & learning. Retrieved from http://thethirdteacherplus.com/s/Ch2-TTT-for-Web-0y6k.pdf

Zap – Wham – Moo: Exploring Onomatopoeia with MaKey MaKey in 5th grade


After reading about learning theories, experimenting with innovative maker technology, and discussing learning with peers for CEP 811, I was ready to create a Maker Lesson Plan.  I believe that an elementary school library is the perfect place to incorporate making into curriculum.  As a school teacher librarian, I am continually collaborating with all teachers on ways for their students to become literate across a variety of media, and providing opportunities for students and staff to learn and apply knowledge in authentic ways.


I chose to create a lesson in collaboration with my 5th grade team’s curriculum unit on figurative language.  This fits with ELA Common Core Standard L.5.5 – Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.  Additionally, the incorporation of technology into this lesson also fits with the ISTE Student NETS standards 1 (Creativity and innovation) and 6 (Technology operations and concepts).The goal for the lesson is to have heterogeneous groups of 5th grade students record sound effects for onomatopoeia examples that they have found either in poems or picture books from the library.  The students would map the sounds to a computer program called Soundplant, and design physical keys, that when touched would produce the desired sound effect via the group’s MaKey MaKey.  These poems and stories would be shared with the class’s 2nd grade buddies, and the 5th graders would have the opportunity to communicate literary and technical learning to the younger students.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 12.41.00 PM


  • Picture books and poetry books from the LLC with examples of onomatopoeia
  • MaKey MaKey sets for collaborative groups of students (boards, alligator clips, grounding pad)
  • Laptops with USB microphones for collaborative groups
  • Soundplant installed on laptops
  • Objects/play-doh for keys.  (Students can also bring in items from home, or draw keys using paper and pencil.)
MaKey MaKey

MaKey MaKey


  • After this lesson, students will be able to record their voices/sound effects using sound recorder on laptop computers.
  • After this lesson, students will be able to attach recordings to keys using soundplant.
  • After this lesson, students will create meaningful keys for their words.

Broader Goal: 5th grade students will use technology to extend their learning of ELA topics, share learning with 2nd grade buddies and think about ways to use technology in the future.

Reading Buddies

Reading buddies in the library


As this is a collaborative lesson, librarian and classroom teacher will remind students of the concept of onomatopoeia.  “We have been studying Onomatopoeia in our ELA time.  Turn and talk  – what is an example of onomatopoeia?” Students will share examples.

5th grade students will already have had exposure to MaKey MaKey – perhaps in school maker space, or during a tech time.  Librarian will ask students to remind each other of MaKey MaKey properties at their tables.  Students will then share out to whole class, with statements such as: “Remember to connect the board to the computer.  You need to have a program open that tells the keys what to do.  Make sure that the person is touching the grounding pad, etc.”

Librarian will introduce objective: “Today, we are going to program the MaKey MaKey to make the sounds that the Onomatopoeia words make in the poem or short story your group will choose.  You will share the book with your 2nd grade buddy, and help them understand onomatopoeia.”

Lesson will be structured thusly:

  1. Divide into class into groups.
  2. Model process.
  3. Each group will choose a poem or a picture book with onomatopoeia.
  4. Each group will choose 5 words to program for the MaKey MaKey.
  5. Students will record sounds using laptops and save the files to their S drive.
  6. Students will open Sound Plant.
  7. Students will add the sound to the key that group chooses.
  8. Students will make keys: They will need to decide what they would like to use as each key.  They will need to think about how they will share this book with their 2nd grade buddies.  How will the 2nd graders know which key to press for that sound?
  9. Connect keys to the MaKey MaKey board.
  10. Connect the MaKey to the computer.
  11. Test the keys.
  12. Practice reading and cueing the sounds.
  13. Visit other groups’ MaKey MaKey projects.


This Checklist will help students keep track of the steps, and allow for reflection on the project.  Classroom teacher and Librarian will also use observation to see if students understand the project.


As the school teacher librarian, I look forward to team teaching with grade levels.  For this maker lesson, I wanted to bring media learning into existing curriculum so that the MaKey MaKey technology just wasn’t a fun factor but provided a meaningful learning opportunity (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005).

By heterogeneous grouping of students, collaboration is fostered.  The students will be able to learn from each other and help each other.  As O’Donnell (2012) wrote, “When there is student interaction, there is the possibility of students constructing new meanings” (p. 76).

Through librarian and teacher modeling of how to use the MaKey MaKey and recording software, students will be exposed to essential skills.  Students will then have a chance to practice in a supported environment.  This follows the constructivist model of apprenticeship learning and scaffolding (O’Donnell, 2012).

This lesson has a real world focus.  5th grade students will share a book/poem with their 2nd grade buddies.  They are creating the MaKey MaKey keys for their buddies to interact with the book.  Moreover, the 5th grade students will also function as experts to the 2nd grade novices in both ELA content and technology incorporation.  Perhaps in the future, the 5th grade students could teach the 2nd grade ones how to work the MaKey MaKey, thus continuing the apprenticeship characteristic of dialectical constructivism.

Research has demonstrated that agency is an essential component to personalized learning, motivating students and helping them to construct meaning (Adair, 2014).  In this lesson, students will be able to choose the book to use with the MaKey MaKey, and then have choice over which words need sound effects, how to make those effects, and how to represent those effects in a key.


1. Show students The Squeaky Door retold by Margaret McDonald.  Page through the book with them and model deciding which words to record for the MaKey MaKey.

2. Model recording sounds or sound effects with USB microphones and Sound Recorder on the laptops.  Great tutorial here.

Click on the Start button, type in Sound Recorder and click on it.

Click on the Start button, type in Sound Recorder and click on it.


Click the red circle to start recording.

Click the blue square to stop recording.

Click the blue square to stop recording.

Name your sound your word, and save it in your S0 space.

Name your sound your word, and save it in your S0 space.

3. Model adding sound to Soundplant keyboard.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcAyAzX5Yh8]

4. Model creating a key for each of the chosen words.  Remind students of options – conductive objects, play-doh, graphite drawing.

Conductive materials

Conductive materials

Play Dough


Pencil drawing

Pencil drawing

5. Model connecting cables and MaKey MaKey to computer.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWGbRxceWrg]

6. Test out the words.

7. Remind students to use checklist to keep track of their progress.


Adair, J. K. (2014). Agency and expanding capabilities in early grade classrooms:  What it could mean for young children. Harvard Educational Review, 84(2), 217-242,278. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1541678931?accountid=12598

O’Donnell, A. (2012). Constructivism. In APA Educational Psychology Handbook: Vol. 1. Theories, Constructs, and Critical Issues. K. R. Harris, S. Graham, and T. Urdan (Editors-in-Chief). Washgington, DC: American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/13273-003.

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition.  Prentice Hall.  pg 13-33.Squeaky Door

Foundation of Learning – the importance of choice

Upon viewing Richard Cullata’s TedX talk on Reimagining Learning, I was inspired by his statements concerning the ability of technology to change learning.  Instead of treating all students the same, despite their unique needs, challenges, and interests, teachers today, via technology tools, have the ability to personalize learning.  This means that learning can involve real-time feedback, adjustable pace, meaningful experiences, and agency.

Impressed by the significance of personalized learning, I decided to research this topic further.  After searching the MSU library databases, I found two articles, one summarizing the effects of agency in early grade education, and one describing the findings of case studies of makerspaces, which support Cullata’s statements concerning the importance of personalization in the learning process, and hold application for the maker movement in education.


The power of choice

In Agency and Expanding Capabilities in Early Grade Classrooms, Jennifer Keys Adair used specific classroom examples to support her findings that student agency in early grade classrooms promotes learning for all students. According to Adair (2014), agency is the ability to “influence and make decisions about what and how something is learned in order to expand capabilities” (p. 219).  Adair noted the learning that occurred when first grade students were able to choose topics of interest, plan the learning timeline, and present findings in meaningful ways.  In contrast to many early grade classrooms, which focus on preparing students for high stakes testing, classrooms commended by Adair (2014) “make a strong case of young children having access to agency in early schooling contexts” (p. 223).  The benefits of such learning environments, in addition to developmental appropriateness, creates students who, according to Adair (2014) know “how to demonstrate knowledge, organize their thoughts, reflect on their learning, and reanalyze previously held beliefs or hypotheses” (p. 229).  Such students have expanded capabilities.

So many options...

So many options…

The second article read for this assignment, Learning in the Making: A Comparative Case Study of Three Makerspaces addressed the similarities and differences in how these makerspaces operated as learning environments.  While this article did not specifically reference agency or personalization of learning, each of the makerspaces and the activities within them supported Cullata’s statements concerning the importance of choice, background and personal interest in learning environments.  In this article, makerspaces were first defined by Sheridan, et al. (2014) as “informal sites for creative production in art, science, and engineering where people of all ages blend digital and physical technologies to explore ideas, learn technical skills, and create new products” (p. 505). The three spaces studied included a member-based space called Sector67, a community space predominantly for youth called Mt. Elliott Makerspace, and a museum makerspace in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  All three had collaborative projects, ability of participants to choose activities and materials, and multiple ways for makers to learn skills.  They differed in their constituency.

For example, personalization of learning was a hallmark of Studio67’s flexible format in which equipment purchases and spatial arrangement was customized to project and participant needs (Sheridan et al., 2014).  Moreover, Sheridan, et al. (2014) noted that “There is a flexible structure to how work, learning and teaching happen on individual and shared projects, with roles shifting” (p. 513).

The findings of Sheridan, et al. (2014) reminded me of O’Donnell’s chapter on Constructivism (O’Donnell, 2012).  In each of the three makerspaces, participants were constructing projects within community using knowledge in meaningful ways.  These makerspaces allowed participants to learn as a novice, or share knowledge gained as an expert. In many cases, as described by Sheridan, et al. (2014) members of the makerspace entered as novices and quickly learned to share their knowledge with others.

Both of these articles support Cullata’s perspectives on the importance of personalized learning.  Adair demonstrated how more than content learning was acquired when students had the ability to choose their topic, timeline and project.  The research of Sheridan, et al. revealed how the concept of choice was intrinsic to the makerspaces studied and contributed to the success of the learning and movement.

As I consider how making can fit into elementary library curriculum, I am learning that personalization, agency, and student choice are essential elements to learning.  Building on O’Donnell’s description of dialectical constructivism, library makerspaces can allow for modeling, coaching, scaffolding, reflecting, articulating and exploring (O’Donnell, 2012), in addition to supporting student choice.


 Adair, J. K. (2014). Agency and expanding capabilities in early grade classrooms:  What it could mean for young children. Harvard Educational Review, 84(2), 217-242,278. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1541678931?accountid=12598

O’Donnell, A. (2012). Constructivism. In APA Educational Psychology Handbook: Vol. 1. Theories, Constructs, and Critical Issues. K. R. Harris, S. Graham, and T. Urdan (Editors-in-Chief). Washgington, DC: American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/13273-003.

Sheridan, K. M., Halverson, E. R., Litts, B. K., Brahms, L. Jacobs-Priebe, L., Owens, T. (2014). Learning in the making: A comparative case study of three makerspaces. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 505-531,563-565. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1642662257?accountid=12598

MaKey MaKey in the Library

For this week in CEP 811, I explored making with the MaKey MaKey kit.  MaKey MaKey is a small device that connects to a computer via a USB port, and lets the user create an alternative keyboard for a computer.  Keystrokes could be mapped to letters or other functions, such as sound files.


After visiting a variety of websites, viewing YouTube videos, and experimenting with Scratch programs, I was ready to create my own keyboard using MaKey MaKey. I tried to repurpose a variety of object in my house to create keys, with varying degrees of success.

Earrings were not successful.

Earrings were not successful.


Testing out metal tree with foil and spoons.

A crochet hook didn't conduct unless wrapped with foil.

A crochet hook didn’t conduct unless wrapped with foil.

I finally settled on using spoons from the utensil drawer in the kitchen to work as the MaKey MaKey keys.  But what to have the keys do?  Since I am an elementary school librarian, I wondered how to make this tool fit my curriculum.  I liked the idea of having keys map to sounds. My first thought, after experimenting with the MaKey MaKey keyboard and various derivatives created by the Scratch community was to have students choose an instrument or varying tones and musically represent a book character or theme.

However, I had recently read The Squeaky Door with my primary classes.  This is a folktale retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, and has a variety of repeated sounds throughout the story.  What if the keys were mapped to those sounds?

Since the sounds I wanted were particular to the book, I had to create them.  This is something that students could do in the future.  I used a Voice Record app on my phone to record the sound effects.  My app lets the user upload sounds to a variety of places including Google Drive.  I uploaded the sounds from my phone and then downloaded them from Drive onto my computer.

Sound file uploading to Drive.

Sound file uploading to Drive.

Next, I needed to find a program that would associate the sounds with keystrokes.  The program that I discovered was Soundplant. I downloaded Soundplant to my computer, and mapped the sounds to the keys used on the MaKey MaKey.  I programmed the sounds to be associated with the arrows, the space bar and the letter a.  Soundplant lets you easily save the keyboards you create.

SoundPlant screen

Soundplant keyboard

Finally, I was ready to test my creation.  I plugged the MaKey MaKey into the USB port on my computer, had the Soundplant keyboard open on the screen, attached the alligator clips to the MaKey MaKey inputs and spoons, and clipped the grounding wire to my ring.  When I touched one of the spoons, the sound effect was made.  Success!

Final Project

Final Project

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUpIWXDxzFs]

I enjoyed experimenting and playing with the MaKey MaKey.  I can see how this device could be used in a variety of ways in the elementary library.  For example, what if 1st grade students chose books, or wrote stories with sound effects?  Then, their 4th grade buddies could help them record the sounds and map those sounds to keys.  Using the MaKey MaKey, the 1st and 4th grade students would be able to retell stories in a new way.

*Note: Multimodal elements in blogposts communicate, inspire and educate.  Images communicate feeling and purpose beyond words.  They also can link the reader emotionally to the content and author. Moreover, especially in a “how-to” post, images and video provide learning support to visual and auditory learners.

Making remixed

This week I’ve begun a new class called Adapting Innovative Technology to Education, and encountered articles, video and media clips about the maker movement. I had the opportunity to put my learning into practice by creating a maker video remix using Mozilla Popcorn. This task was challenging, since I had to first make meaning out of all I had learned, and then figure out a new technology and find clips to support my thinking.

Relying on what I discovered in my networked learning class, I went to the online community and discovered how to manipulate video clips and other events in Mozilla Popcorn. I had to go back to the forums repeatedly as elements didn’t flow properly, or I forgot how to use layers. I initially played with some YouTube videos that I had uploaded, but then ventured into the creative commons licensed area of YouTube and also explored the rich Prelinger Archive of historical short film. What a treasure!

Having learned how to use a new technology, I was then ready to create a remix. But where to begin? I considered my learning from this week’s content. I was most inspired by Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix video series, and thought deeply about how remixing connects to my work as an educator. Creation involved copying content, and remixing and transforming it. These same steps are part of the learning process. A student takes in content and concepts and makes it their own. As learners play with content, new meaning and new products result.

So in my remix video, which you can view here, I explored how ideas build on what has existed before. I found a clip from the Seattle Worlds Fair of 1962 in which a Bell Telephone company representative was talking about the possibilities of phone technology. I immediately thought about how I use my smartphone for so many tasks, and even have friends who use their phone to control their home environments. By layering old and new clips, I wanted to illustrate the concept of creating being a remix of existing products and ideas.

Sources used:

Fairbanks (Jerry) Productions. (1964). Century 21 Calling [Video file]. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/Century21964.

Photo by Nemo / CC0 Public Domain

Rothberg (Lee) Productions, Inc. (1967). Zipcode with the Swingin’ 6 [Video file].  Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/0574_Zip_Code_with_the_Swingin_6_08_12_36_09.

Илья Сименко. (2013, July 21). WigWag Kickstarter Promo Video [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtJsaBM1pEY.