Finding a Balance

Elizabeth (Betsy) Snow

Fontichiaro, K. (2016). Inventing products with design thinking: Balancing structure with open-ended thinking. (LIBRARY MAKERSPACES). Teacher Librarian, 44(2), 53.


If you have struggled at all with maintaining a critical learning space in your library or Media Center, this article sheds perspective on how important checks and markers can add the necessary structure to tinker time.

With an actual example of student-led research on something as simple as finding the perfect bag, Fontichiaro shows how educators can add meaning to the students’ design thinking.

Makerspaces and Education

Mahajan, Deepti


Rubinstein05/15/2018, K. (n.d.). Making Space for Makerspaces. Retrieved from

This article is written by a teacher in New jersey and talks about how she set up a makerspace and what she learnt about it. She discusses how the maker spaces promote the inquiry and design thinking in the students and is a very inquiry based model of teaching and learning. The article also mentions her observations in the class and her findings from the study. She talks a lot about how this maker movement is encouraging the students to work and learn collaboratively. It also teaches them problem solving and creativity. The makerspaces provide an opportunity to be innovative and creative and working collaboratively.

This was a very informative article as it discusses how the teacher learned new things while developing this maker space for her students. It also gives the readers information about how the maker movement can be helpful in education. The observation checklist gives the educators a good tool to evaluate their learning commons or maker spaces.


Zepnick, Jaclyn
Smithsonian National Museum of American History. (2017).  Do Try This At Home! Retrieved from
This is a “fun” link I found while browsing the web for ideas in creating a Virtual Makerspace for the library I work at. Via the Smithsonian’s “Fun Stuff for Kids Online,” the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation has an entirely different approach to fun stuff for kids not online. 

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While I could not incorporate any of these activities into my Virtual Makerspace (that would defeat the purpose of being “virtual”), I thought teachers and teacher librarians could get ideas about activities that students can physically do in class, the library, or at home. Make sure to click on the Spark!Lab and Encouraging Innovative Thinking tabs too. 

Seven Surprising Benefits of Maker Spaces

Brandt, Alisa

Barron, C., & Barron, A. (2016, August 2). Seven surprising benefits of maker
    spaces [Blog post]. Retrieved from School Library Journal website:

ET – Maker Spaces

IL – Motivation

This article reveals the seven physical and psychological benefits of maker spaces in libraries beyond meeting curriculum standards.
Focusing on making brings people into the present moment giving them a break from focusing on the past or future too much. Making is physical and gets people moving, stretching, and standing, which gets blood flowing. Making is dependent upon self-directed engagement and gives people motivation to complete a task rather than having to do a required task. This means that people are learning what interests them and leads to a greater sense of satisfaction. Making uses hand-based activities which gives people a deeper connection to their brain and the development of skills such as visual thinking and problem solving. Making improves mood, giving people a boost of happiness. Maker spaces in libraries create a sense of community and connection which can prevent loneliness. Making “prevents the habit of wastefulness” by salvaging old materials and creating something new (Barron & Barron, 2016).

Evaluation: We are all familiar with the ways that makerspaces in schools enhance student learning and help to meet curriculum standards. It is also helpful to understand the ways in which making, whether it is simple or complex, provides so many mental and physical benefits to makers. In a time when people are increasingly disconnected from others and from the physical and mental processes that keep humans healthy, making provides an opportunity to gain some of this back.

The Best Animation Tools, from CrazyTalk and Toon Boom to Free Web Apps

Alan Phelps
Stern, J. (2011, May). The Best Animation Tools, from CrazyTalk and Toon Boom to Free Web Apps. Retrieved from

This is a good informative review article discussing online animation tools and some of the ways they are being used in schools. The article talks about the importance of schools giving students a creative outlet and tools to express themselves but the bulk of the article is a review of the best pay and free online animation tools. CrazyTalk and ToonBoom were selected as the best pay tools and they recommend quite a few free online sites like AniBoom and CreaToon 3.0 as two of the best. They also review and recommend some non-animated comic strip creation tools that look fun and interesting.
I liked this article because it was non biased and informative. It gave good concise information on each tool or website and explained what they liked and disliked about each. I am particularly interested in this because next year I want to begin creating a maker space in the high school library at which I am the TL. Over the course of the next few years I want to use part of the library space for drawing, digital storytelling, animation, video making, and someday, maybe even 3-D printing. I will refer back to this article when I am ready to begin work on this space. While this article is from 2011 I think it is still relevant but I need to look into the recommended sites and tools to see if they are still at the top.

School Libraries Work! 2016 Edition

Sannwald, Suzanne
Scholastic. (2015). School libraries work!: A compendium of research supporting the effectiveness of school libraries (2016 ed.). Retrieved from 

Summary: The 2016 edition updates the previous 2008 version, and it includes new research and trends such as makerspaces. This is a seminal document that Teacher Librarians should study and become familiar with, because it summarizes well the power of school library programs. It may also be shared with other members of the school community as an advocacy piece to help inform them. Of importance, the report not only shares statements about the importance of staffing and funding school libraries, but it bases these assertions on summarized research. Some key ideas shared include the following:

  • Libraries are transforming into learning commons.
  • School libraries consist of (1) The Place, (2) The Professional, and (3) The Program.
  • Successful school libraries contribute to ELA achievement, reading performance, information literacy, 21st century skill building, and overall student success.
  • Successful school libraries require commitment from district and school administration.

Evaluation: I had a difficult time picking a category for this resource since it spans a lot of topics, but I ended up picking “CO” Collaboration since I think it is a strong document supporting the value of collaboration with school libraries. This is a powerful reference resource for all Teacher Librarians!

Tinkerspace: Library Learning Commons

Bailey, Rachel

Doorley, R. Tinkerspace: Library learning commons [Web log post]. Retrieved from

     This blog post highlights an elementary school library that embraces the MakerSpace movement. Before being set loose in the MakerSpace environment, all classes are required to have an orientation about how to use the space. Once this is established, children may come into the library and tinker with a plethora of stations such as mask making, origami, sewing, paper airplane folding, etc. Each station showcases books about the topic as well as materials so the students may begin creating. Students are encouraged to come up with topics for the tinker stations. Additionally, much of the materials for the MakerSpace are donated from the community and the students themselves.
     When a student goes to the MakerSpace area, he is to take one of the library timers to keep track of his time. He then works independently and creates! If he has a question, he must collaborate with other students around him as the librarian is usually teaching a class or helping to check out books. When the student is finished, he must clean up his work area and fill out an “exit ticket” that is reflective of  his experience.

     I thought this article was helpful. Much of the literature I read talks about the importance of having a MakerSpace in the library, but it doesn’t tell how to implement it. I also like how this article talks about the type of materials used in the MakerSpace as well student expectations in the space. The only concern I had was that this library has a rather large space to work with. What about school libraries that have a limited amount of space? How can the Maker movement be implemented in these types of spaces?