I just returned from TCEA 2015 and after getting out of the shower I came up with a rather strange analogy for this post. I used the shampoo from the hotel because when I use the same shampoo day in and day out my hair becomes limp with "shampoo build-up" so I alternate with a new shampoo every so often to give my hair body. As I evaluate my library programming I can see some dull "build-up" over the years that I continue because as many would say, "It's how we always have done it." I actually detest that saying. All I can say about TCEA 2015 is that it has given me some new and creative ideas to revitalize our library! This year was not disappointing in the variety of sessions as I concentrated on makerspaces and coding. I have uniquely implemented both on our campus but I was seeking that new shampoo to put some body back into our library environment and I was not disappointed in what TCEA 2015 had to offer.
The awesome sessions I attended included: Shawna Ford, Westherford ISD; Nancy Jo Lambert, Frisco ISD; Tina Beruman, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD; Colleen Graves and Leah Mann, Lewisville ISD; and Deanna Seigler, Little Elm ISD presentations on makerspaces and library environments. There were many more sessions including fellow district librarian Christa Pospicil but time prevented me from attending all the sessions. I love that TCEA included the handouts online because although I didn't get to attend some sessions I do get to see their handouts and have contact information. Each library was very different with the development of their learning commons or makerspace implementation. Libraries included everything from green screens to makerspace carts. Some had set days and times after or before school while others hosted "tinker time" during scheduled circulation days.
The most profound conclusion that I made from after listening to the variety of programs is that the makerspace movement has no specific handbook or formula. Each and every program is different and specifically designed for each library program and student interests. It is an awesome movement that reaches many reluctant students with "hands-on" activities along with making the library even more exciting and diverse.
What may be stopping some to delve into this new and exciting programming? Some may ask where will I get the funding? Suggestions that came from the sessions were Donor's Choose grants (one of my favorites), PTA, get creative within your school such as hosting cardboard art day, and seek experts within your community and parents. Another obstacle might be one's comfort zone. I for example do not know how to code but I facilitate a coding club. Learn to release and empower the students. Give your students ownership in learning and teaching as I do with a 100% student driven technology club. Network with others in your PLN and seek ideas and advice since many have paved the path.
In conclusion, I have confirmed that what I call our makerspace is on track. Although we are not designing and tinkering as many other movements, we are programming and coding. I emptied an old small storage room for the student technology club and walked away. They have made this space into a room where designing, planning, and teaching takes place. They have hosted the Hour of Code for two years, teach coding every Wednesday morning to anyone interested, and have become the school's "Geek Squad" in helping with technology issues for both students and faculty. After listening to others I am ready to take our movement to another level with expanding the group and hosting a summer coding event.
Whether you start small with a simple project or jump in with a fully funded program, I encourage everyone to pick up and try a new shampoo and include some makerspace activity in their library programming. Thank you for the ideas TCEA 2015!