Teaching Creativity with Minecraft at The School Library
The school library isn’t just any old building, it’s an incubator that connects students to the world around them. For survivors of the recession, the decline of school libraries is also the beginning of the end for their schools. After public libraries lost half of their staffs in the wake of the recession, schools have gone to extreme measures to make sure students remain connected to the world.
The New York City school system is one that’s used to leading in innovative school tools and technology: It’s the nation’s largest, with nearly 200,000 students, and its had plans to create a national model of schools that integrate technology into the educational experience from the day students are born.
But, with a declining school library budget, District Two became the first public school system in the nation to experiment with a makerspace program. By way of landmark legislation enacted in 2015, New York State’s digital learning mandate mandates K-12 schools to create a “campus-wide uses of digital technology plan” that “encourages collaboration among students to build their skills in software programming, mobile development, digital media, and other tools used in today’s digital learning and workplace.”
Designated “Joint Academic Ventures District Two”, there are 105 school-based makerspaces across District Two. Schools with more students—and, therefore, better connections to the higher education level that can enhance hands-on learning—may request a higher participation. When projects like MLK and other makerspaces fail to recruit enough students, District Two responded with new programs, like one-on-one training to offer support to interested teachers.
I sat down with the program coordinator, Margot Buckley. She explained that her team works to identify fields of study and fosters workshops that encourage students to develop skills in those areas. “We’re looking at curricular needs, the economy of the day, and the students’ needs,” Buckley said.
For me, that was the most important goal: Making sure that my children’s schools would implement a technology program that was not only available, but included hands-on learning for all students.
Parents are naturally drawn to makerspaces, but to ensure the educators use the right tools to succeed, Buckley emphasized the importance of providing pre-organizational planning and partnerships with local businesses. During our conversation, I learned about the number of grants and donations that helped to create those resources.
Learn the other most important things I learned from The School Library and makerspace program: