When Sharing Turns Into Stealing

There is an ugly side to educators’ online sharing where people take things from Pinterest, recreate copies, and sell them. It’s where users copy entire books authored by others and sell them. It’s when posters are recreated, same layout, same words, and sold. Teachers take from each other’s images found in a Google search, or given freely, and market to profit from them at $3 or $5 a download.

We all know that ugly side is there — but it’s rarely mentioned and offenders often respond, “Oh, I didn’t know it was wrong.” And expect it to slide….

We would never accept this from a child in the classroom. Let’s make sure kids know courtesy, kindness, respect, and what digital content rights truly are. The only way to show them this is through modeling it.

So how can we all do better?




Looking Back: Evolution of a Classroom

When I think back to how my classroom has evolved over the last ten years, so much has changed.  But, many things have remained the same.  From the very first moment I stepped into my classroom I knew one thing… I wanted my students to know that I was excited to have them there, learning together was going to be awesome, and it was our room.  I also have always wanted them to know that I value creativity.  I never set out to create everything from scratch, but every summer it became a fun game of hunting thrift stores, spray painting, re-purposing, creating digital art, and making the classroom space we would share together for the next year something special.   The best classrooms don’t have to be expensive, they just need to come from your heart. A place of learning, where everyone belongs, and where each kid is celebrated.   Truly, that’s not even about the decorations at all. But decorating a classroom?  It’s so much fun. :)

Surf’s Up! {Tour HERE}
Behavior and Calendar board

Jungle Classroom {Tour HERE}
The Reading Hut

Go Retro! {Tour HERE}

Monkey Madness {Tour HERE}
Reading Corner and Flags

Gearing Up! {Tour HERE}

Bright Lights, Big Learning: City Classroom Theme {Tour HERE}
Classroom View Toward Computers

Robot Rally {Tour HERE}
It's raining...it's pouring! (Not really!)


There’s No Place Like Learning! {Tour HERE}
No Place Like Learning!

Start Making in YOUR Classroom

I’ve gotten several emails after my last post and they all ended with the same line, “Where do I start?”  It can be overwhelming to start by Googling “makerspace.”  What do you most often see?  That stark modern space with expensive 3d printers. But that? It’s not the reality of what making in the classroom can be. I know the constraints faced by many of us in education, and I’ve lived them before.  You make do with what you have, get creative, and repurpose existing materials to MAKE making happen in your classroom.  You gotta start somewhere, right?weare

1.) Make Space: Dedicate an area.  Do you have a corner you can spare? A table that’s available?  A carpeted spot that you can put an old coffee table on with a colorful coat of paint?  That’s all you need.

2.) Organize The Area:  Create some bins, boxes, or storage containers with materials.  Yard sales and thrift stores are perfect for finding old puzzles, Legos, blocks, fabric scraps, and more.  Cardboard is free!  Those bins?  They could be shoeboxes covered in colorful paper with a label on the end.  The idea is to inspire kids to dream, invent, and explore.  The materials available are important, and starting with simple materials will allow you to get your feet wet, while students dive in.  Labels can be simple printouts on white paper, taped to the boxes with packaging tape.

3.) Go Digital: Start a digital maker space. A blog on your classroom website, an Edmodo group, or even a simple Smore page that you update each month.  Post a monthly maker challenge and ask kids to bring their creations in and share them.  Making is far more powerful when sharing with others and inspiring your kids to make outside the classroom is a great way to get them excited about learning around the clock. It’s not for a grade, or for a test. It’s just pure fun with creating and problem solving along the way. One idea for the Monthly Maker Challenge might be: Design an item of clothing that solves a problem that you have.  Build a prototype.  Students could even share on your digital maker space – providing them a chance to share their voice with the world.

4.) Ask for Help: Invite students to share their ideas and materials for making.  Kids can bring in recycleable materials, boxes, scraps, and newspaper.  Let parents in your classroom know you are dedicating a space to creativity and would love some extra materials that they no longer need.

5.) Reverse Engineering:  Add some old tech that can be tinkered with and taken apart. Art created with an old keyboard? Circuit boards turned into a robot? Kids will love exploring the insides of tech.

6.) Integrate the Space:  As students get into the space, you’ll find standards are being delved into left and right.  When a student builds a light up contraption, she can create a how to tutorial for others to follow.  Measurement, collboration, and presentation skills are just the tip of the ice berg to the real learning that can occur.  That book you are reading this week?  Ask students to design a house for the character and then use LED lights, batteries, and copper tape to make the house light up.  Better yet, leave it open ended and ask students to create something that represents the book.  You provide the space and materials, students can provide the imagination.

That’s a tiny start that’s manageable and can allow you to provide students the space to freely explore.   What might happen over time?  New materials can be introduced.  Kids will be motivated to create more. The area will flow into the larger classroom throughout the day.  And that?  It’s the very best thing that could happen.  Because the learning that occurs when students are making, designing, exploring, problem solving, and creating?  It’s authentic and it’s the stuff great learning is made of.



Please Just Don’t


Don’t try to put making in a box. Don’t make it a kit, standardize it, and water it down.  Don’t develop a canned-for-sale-program out of it.   Don’t make it a packet to sell on website. Don’t reduce it to a moment in a day, a day in a week, or a kit from the shelves. Don’t make it into a program that a school has to pay billions to be a part of. Don’t reduce making to that “thing” that happens in a certain room or a certain space or once a month.  Please just don’t reserve making for gadgety electronics or robotics.  Don’t just call it STEAM.

Making is connecting, interpreting, and building a relationship with the world.

Let’s make school more about making. The mathematics and patterns in sewing, the joy in colorful art, the visual beauty in cooking, painting, the science of mixing colors, the music of sculpture in the wind, the flow in writing from the imagination, the collaboration in makerology3developing something together, the spark in sharing cardboard creations via Skype, the motivation in sharing with the world, the engagement in raw discovery, the fun in tinkering with a pile of junk, the passion in an idea grown from a seed, and the excitement in untouched exploration.

I could go on. I won’t.  Just please be careful that when you are looking for places to add “making” in your school, and be sure that what you are doing is actually making school more for kids, and not just a place to label or check a box. Because only then will the opportunities unleash the true power of making in the souls of the learners who walk our halls.

And that is exactly what the world needs more of.

At least that’s what my soul is telling me these days.