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New Page for Elementary Library Makerspace Resources! November 17, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Makerspace!.
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As the maker movement gains momentum and becomes more mainstream in education, there are more and more teacher-librarians who ask me where to find the best resources, and where to start.

So Colleen Graves and I have been collaborating on a page of Awesome Elementary Library Makerspace Resources, which is cross-posted on Colleen’s blog as well.  (If you’re not following her, you should be!)  It’s a work in progress, so expect some updates in the future as we add new resources and recommended materials.

Elementary Makerspace Resources | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Check it out, and feel free to offer suggestions in the comments!

Flash Freebie! Makerspace Prompt Task Cards October 6, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Fun Stuff, Makerspace!.
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When starting a makerspace, it’s sometimes helpful to start students off with some project ideas to get their creative juices flowing.  Many students are so used to finding one “right” solution to a problem.  Teaching students that some problems have many solutions and that finding those solutions might take some time…well, that’s a mindset and habit that often requires practice.

That’s where makerspace prompts can be used.  The awesome Gary Stager recommends that prompts will ideally come from students’ curiosity, discoveries, exploration, and wonderings.  He says if a teacher must design a prompt or challenge the prompt should keep these tips in mind:

1. Brevity. The best prompts fit on a Post-It! Note. They are clear, concise, and self-evident.

2. Ambiguity. The learner should be free to satisfy the prompt in their own voice, perhaps even employing strategies you never imagined.

3. Immunity to assessment…Students will want to do the best job possible when they care about their work and know that you put them ahead of a grade. If students are collaborating and regularly engaged in peer review or editing, then the judgment of an adult is really unnecessary.

Quoted from: Stager, G. S. (2012, June). A good prompt is worth 1,000 words. Retrieved from http://stager.tv/blog/?p=2779.

There are many ideas on Pinterest and social media for STEM and makerspace challenges/prompts, and I made a set of task cards based on some of them to jump-start students’ imaginations.  As part of a flash freebie promotion on Facebook, my Makerspace Project Prompt Task Cards & Materials List is FREE in my TeachersPayTeachers Store for this week only!


It was Mrs J in the Library with a #TaskCard #FlashFreebie! http://bit.ly/1WA7dD7

Posted by Teachers Pay Teachers on Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Grab it while you can, and try it out!  Also, if you have more prompt or challenge ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Reflections and Celebrations 2015 June 22, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in How to Be Brave, Makerspace!, Reflections.
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End of the Year Reflections 2015 | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Every year as the school year winds down (or crashes, rather), I start thinking about what I want to change for next year.  Though I’ve made notes on my grade-level lesson plans all year long, it’s good to look back and remember not only what I want to change, but how far I’ve come since last school year.  After a long school year, some reflecting and celebrating never fails to reignite my passion for teaching, and I recommend the practice to any teacher-librarian or educator!

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PSLA 2015 “Make It @ Your Library” Presentation May 1, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Makerspace!, PSLA.
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I’m honored to be presenting at the 2015 PA School Librarians Association Annual Conference about makerspaces in elementary and middle school libraries this afternoon.  If you can’t make it to the conference (or you’re not from PA), my presentation is on Google Slides.

During my session, I’m also hosting a few giveaways for anyone who attends in person or online.  You must be a PSLA member to enter the four giveaways below, however, you can win only one of them. I’ll post the winners on my Twitter account after my session today, so stay tuned!

PSLA Giveaway #1 – littleBits Makerspace Center
PSLA Giveaway #2 – Goldie Blox Makerspace Center
PLSA Giveaway #3 – Electric Sewing Makerspace Center
PSLA Giveaway #4 – Paper Circuits with Interactive Nursery Rhymes Makerspace Center

Special thanks to littleBits for donating the Starter Kit for the littleBits Makerspace Center giveaway!

Images in the giveaways are from Mrs. J in the Library and the products’ respective creators.

What Worked Wednesday: Sugru + littleBits March 18, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Makerspace!, What Worked.
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What Worked Wednesdays | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item after clicking the link, I will receive a small commission.  See Disclosures & Disclaimers for more information.

“What Worked Wednesday” is a blog post series about ideas that I have personally tried in my library and/or instruction.  Each post includes an idea that worked in my school library and how it makes my life less stressful, more organized, and/or more manageable.

I’ve just discovered Sugru®, and it is AWESOME!  Sugru® is a moldable putty that sticks to almost anything and dries into a silicone-based rubber.  It’s tough, waterproof, and heat-tolerant.  In other words, Sugru® makes things elementary kid-proof.

What I love most about it, however, is the philosophy of fixing and adapting anything to make it better, stronger, more personalized, or more useful.  I’ve blogged before about how delicate some of the littleBits™ are, and how I’ve replaced several because of broken wires and loose parts.  Well, I wish I had known about Sugru® when I bought my first set of littleBits™ back in 2013.  A couple of hours and a $22 Sugru® multi-pack would have saved almost all the Bits I’ve replaced, and it would have paid for itself by now.

So today’s idea that worked:

Mold Sugru® around the wire connections and fragile parts of littleBits™ to reinforce the connections and prevent damage.

Four mini-packs of Sugru®, color-mixed to approximately match the Bit colors, were enough to wrap around all the wire connections and make our littleBits™ MUCH stronger!

How this idea saves money:

Use Sugru to make littleBits stronger and last longer | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Our “upgraded” littleBits with Sugru protecting the wire connections.

When combined with some beginner soldering, I fixed a littleBits™ fan, one of my proudest maker moments!  That fix saved about me about $15.  Additionally, I reinforced the connections on all of our wires, long LEDs, servo motors, light wires, a UV LED, a roller switch, another fan, and the last 2 original 9V battery cables.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to salvage any of the vibration motors, so I’ll just need to buy new ones.  When I do, though, you can bet that I’m going to encase the delicate wires and connections in Sugru®!

Overall, if you’re going to use littleBits™ with elementary students, I HIGHLY recommend Sugru® reinforcement.  You will thank yourself later!

P.S. I’m not being paid to say that.  Update: At the time of this post’s writing, I received no compensation for writing this post.  As of June 2017, this post has been updated with affiliate links, but all opinions are still my own.

Images by Collette J. at A Wrinkle in Tech

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