Lesson Six: Makerspace Management
Identify ways to manage materials and behaviors while at the makerspace.
There are so many benefits to having a makerspace in your classroom or school. Here are some helpful tips to managing both materials and behavior when students are at the makerspace.
Have a ‘Makerspace Manager’ as a classroom job. This student can inform you of materials that might need to be restocked as well as restock the makerspace for you. Having a storage container like this with several type of STEM supplies can be what your makerspace manager restock from. My lovely coworker @megan_eno does this in her classroom!
· Make sure students justify why they need that material or that amount of the material. I have my students include detailed plan for their project to ensure that they don’t waste materials. This is a free planning poster that my students often refer to in our makerspace.
· If my students are working on a free form makerspace project I often have a choice of materials on the board that they can choose from. For example: 2 pipe cleaners OR a foot of yarn. This helps one type of supply from being used too quickly!
· “My makerspace is a mess! My students aren’t cleaning up!” Take a picture of your makerspace when it is neat and pristine. Keep that photo by your makerspace so students can see exactly what it needs to look like after they have finished cleaning up. If my students can clean up their work in 5 minutes or less they earn a quick brain break. This definitely motivates them!
I’m going to break down behavior management into whole group/general ideas for behavior management as well as how to accommodate for specific behaviors. If you would like ideas for how to manage a specific behavior at your makerspace feel free to contact me. We can brainstorm ideas together and add more information to this list!
- If you are using a makerspace as a center, switch up the group members who collaborate with one another. My groups change with every unit. Sometimes just shuffling groups around can help.
- Display a timer on the board so students can see how long their working period is. I’ve found that using a timer helps students stay on task and attend to their projects.
- Give options to work in a group, in partners, or work alone for some projects. While collaboration is a key part of a makerspace, sometimes students need a break. Try having students complete an individual project occasionally.
- If a student is having difficulty focusing over at the makerspace, have them move their materials and work in closer proximity to you. They can work on makerspace projects anywhere in the classroom.
- If a student is really having difficulty even with reminders and is causing themselves and others to not be able to work, take a break from the makerspace. Have the student clean up their space and practice the same skill in another way. I’ve only had to do this a few times in my three years of having a makerspace. When I have had to do this, the next day was much better. Sometimes students need a gentle reminder in order to get back on track.
If a student has difficulty:
- Managing time wisely, have a and timer that they can use independently or have a timer on your smart board so all student can see.
- Sharing tasks, have the group/pair come up with tasks that need to be done to complete the project. Then have them choose an equal number of tasks. They must give you their task chart before they can begin building.
- Communicating their ideas, have them write/draw their ideas and share with their group member or let them record their voice on an iPad to share with group members.
- Being a productive group member, have a checklist of a specific job/jobs that the student needs to complete for their group. The teacher can communicate with the group beforehand to assist the student in having a meaningful way to contribute. The teacher or a peer buddy can check in every few minutes or so to make sure the student is on task.
- Using materials appropriately, limit amount of materials that can be out at once. For example, if a group is making a pop-up scene and they have planned to use paper, Popsicle sticks, and string. Have the group create what they need to with paper first, then get out the Popsicle sticks, and then get out the string.