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The month of November has quickly come and gone. Many things have happened in the library and much too quickly to keep up with blogging. Tiffany (pictured below) is our resident book folding artist. She took up the project of using a weeded book to create book art, or a folded turkey.

Just in time for the holidays, other middle schoolers watched as she dedicated each free minute , lunch and activity period, to folding and curling turkey tails. Tiffany was inspired to splatter some water color paint on it as well. Her dedication made book art popular. Suddenly lots of middle schoolers wanted to go to the library and “tear up books.” A teacher in the hallway heard a student shouting this and came running to ensure there was not chaos occurring in the library.

Now I know many librarians weed books and secretly throw them out at night. They fear the backlash of stakeholders that  do not understand the concept of weeding. Weeding books that are unused, outdated or just plain worn out makes rooms for new books patrons request and read. Astutely, we are repurposing weeded books for our makerspace.

The digital arts teacher, Andre Soto, scheduled and came into the library with three classes. The classes played games of Mystery Skype with other schools. The students did not know who they were playing against. The object of the game was to guess where the other team was from by asking yes or no questions. Each student had a specific job like researching, communicating, documenting, questioning, etc. Children used maps, computers, whiteboard markers to collaborate. In the end, our classes both lost and won. However, the true winning was in online collaboration with other youth. One opposing team used their phone to video and walk our kids through their schools as they discussed the differences in education.

The LMC has been working on making the space more collaborative and youth friendly. An unused area was cleared out  of technology boxes. The boxes were put away under a computer table and chairs from Chairigami were purchased. If you do not know, Chairigami is an amazing company from Connecticut. They construct furniture out of three ply cardboard.

Students read and assembled the chairs, thus taking  ownership of their space. Additionally, a reclaimed table was obtained specifically for the space. This area facilitates a different feel and since food is not allowed in the library, scholars are able to sit in the lounge chairs and quickly eat before heading to their studies.

Several design students used the chairs as a template to recreate another one from big pieces of cardboard that were sitting around. As they assembled it in the library, many other students were interested in what they were making. As the library has evolved into makerspace heaven, it is also beginning to inspire others.

For Focus, the school’s newspaper, a guest speaker was brought in to teach scholars how to interview. After discovering many of our journalists do not feel comfortable or know the protocol for conducting interviews, the library asked a guest in that had attended and graduated from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism to provide tips, techniques and tricks for interview procedures.

To spark creativity, the LMC asked our custodian, Luis, to build a Lego wall. He graciously assisted us and is an excellent example of how makerspaces build community and bring experts into the fold for others to rely upon as a resource.

The Lego wall fosters a reprieve from all the stress and studying for scholars. A few kids were shy about using it until they saw others were on board. But one high school scholar was so excited that he was not bashful at all. He flatly stated, ” I love legos. I will be in here everyday!”

Recently, the LMC obtained chess sets, puzzle cubes and robots. With the idea of encouraging learning through stimulation , scholars are being engaged through non-traditional methods.  To the untrained eye, they appear to be just remote controlled gizmos. However, the robots are an entry way into coding. I have quite frequently heard students remark that they are “not that smart” or the laser printer is not for everyone, but special kids. Scholars are just getting familiar with them and little do they know it, but they will soon be moving the robots through coding. Coding is not just an activity done during the month of December, but a skill that can open many doors for them. And they will also see that they really are “that smart!”

Naysayers may think these are games or toys, but that is far from the truth. Children , like adults, learn best through play and by doing. Noticing scholars playing on their phones or watching their snaps and reading IG posts, the LMC decided to promote critical thinking and problem solving through active learning. Scholars were not actually interacting with each other, but were instead playing with their phones. Another adult in the library remarked it is great to see the camaraderie and kids socializing in a constructive way, rather than just in their own worlds on their phones. They now are becoming more collaborative, communicative and creative. Taking risks and failing are some of the best things people can do to learn and grow.

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