Reinventing School Libraries – Makerspace!

Makerspaces are a natural evolution for libraries. We need to make the resources available to our students that will help guide their inquiry and exploration. Who can predict what our students will create when given the space and tools necessary?

– Phil Goerner in School Library Journal

What is a makerspace? Essentially, a makerspace is a physical area, often in a library, that is set aside and laden with diverse materials for student exploration. Students are encouraged to create,  design, imagine and problem solve as they choose. Makerspaces provide a natural environment where creativity and critical thinking happen naturally.

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Many HSE school media centers are developing makerspaces. At Fishers Elementary, media specialist Cristie Ondrejack has designed a makerspace around three verbs: Create. Solve. Design.

In the Create area, students use a variety of art supplies to create whatever they can imagine. Solve challenges students to use their critical thinking skills to tackle puzzles, riddles, and logic problems. Perseverance is a goal here! Design encourages students to explore with Legos, K’Nex, Magnetix, Marble Maze and other building supplies. Students collaborate as they envision, plan and build.

Later in the year, HSE21 Shorts will bring you stories of makerspaces at other building levels in the district. Who knows what future inventions or discoveries will be found to have originated in an HSE makerspace!


A Peek Into the Socratic Seminar


The Socratic Seminar is often thought of as a discussion tool–a way to foster student dialogue around important topics–much like its namesake, Socrates, instigated  thought and dialogue around the issues of his day. While true, this statement leaves much unsaid. In reality, the classroom Socratic Seminar, when well-planned and executed, fosters important reading and comprehension skills, helps students build and communicate evidence-based arguments, all in addition to helping students deeply consider the complexities of the topic at hand.

IMG_0238Karl Knerr, sixth grade language arts teacher at Fall Creek Intermediate School, describes how the process unfolds in his class: “Students read articles closely, identify and underline the author’s claim/central idea of the text, highlight textual evidence that supports the claim, and mark the text.  Next, they create 2-3 good interpretive questions that they will use during the discussion (these should also be supported with textual evidence).”

IMG_0225When discussion day arrives, students have already digested the articles and formed questions  that will guide discussion. . They have a basic understanding of the broad issue/topic addressed (albeit still from only their own perspective). By this time in the school year, Mr. Knerr’s students know what is expected of them during a Socratic Seminar. They’ve learned about sensitivity to other points of view, about the importance of listening as well as speaking, and about giving evidence to support their claims. IMG_0216In observing a recent Socratic Seminar in Mr. Knerr’s class, HSE21 Shorts was amazed at the natural ebb and flow of the conversation amongst these eleven- and twelve-year-olds, and at how politely and intently they listened to their peers, even to the point of purposefully creating space in the conversation for the quieter students to be heard.

“What I’ve seen from our Socratic discussions,” remarked Mr. Knerr,  “is a deeper understanding about ideas and values in the text through different points-of-view. Students question and examine issues related to what they’ve read, and connect to the Indiana Academic standards we are currently studying.  We constantly analyze, interpret, listen, and participate with our peers to gain knowledge.  Students think out loud and share ideas openly while exploring deeper issues in the text.  They often make great connections between the texts as well.”

#HourOfCode #Encore!

HSE21 Shorts couldn’t resist sharing this student-produced Hour Of Code recap that came in today! Thanks to directors Logan, Justin, Ian, and Micah (of Sand Creek Intermediate School) for a helping us to understand the Hour of Code from a sixth-grader’s perspective. Enjoy!


Coding = Future = Fun

As we close on the 2014 Hour of Code week in HSE Schools, take a look at this two-minute wrap-up highlighting the impact of the experience in just one school! Thanks to fourth grade teacher Courtney Gibson for creating and sharing this recap. Click on any of the images below to be directed to the video.

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As part of our week-long focus on the Hour of Code, HSE21 Shorts decide to ask our youngest learners and their teachers to weigh in on the big event. Elementary teachers report that the resources suggested by have been both educational and entertaining. Through fun activities/apps like Kodable and Daisy the Dinosaur, even students as young as kindergarteners have been exposed to the basics of coding. Here’s what a few of these youngest students had to say about their coding experiences:

image[1] “Mom, can I do this Kodable app for my (bedtime) story tonight? It makes me think just like I do when I am reading.”

“I did it myself!” 

“This learning is really fun!”

“Do we really have to stop?”

image“I like  challenge!”

“I made him dance a jig”

Yes! Yes! Yeesss! I did it!”

“I have a huge silver dragon!”

“This makes me think!”

“I can make this guy do this!  Look, I want to show you! (pause while he shows me) SEE?!”


Oh I just growed huge!  Daisy just grew huge! It was AWESOME!”


“This is so cool – it’s like playing!”

Third and fourth graders, also, seem to love taking part in the Hour of Code. From their comments below, it’s easy to see that these students are making connections–that in coding the movements of a game character, they are actually programming, and that programming is fun!

“I really liked how it challenged you and was still fun at the same time.  I would for sure do it in my free time.  It is cool that we have the capability from these apps to be able to program on our own.”

picstitch“Some kids don’t like school and don’t like to work, but with the Hour of Code, you can still learn and have fun!”

 “The Hour of Code was fun because you could make the characters do whatever you wanted.”

 “It was really fun because you got to see a lot of different funny things the characters can do.” 

 “It’s addicting because when you play a new game you like it a lot and then you don’t want to stop.”

 “It was fun because you can program a game to do what you want it to do.”

 “It’s so awesome because I kept on making Daisy big and small and make her break dance.”

 “I liked Scratch, Jr. because you can make your own person whatever color you want to.”

It was awesome because you never want to stop coding.  When I first starting playing Foos I just wanted to keep playing more levels.  When I got stuck I just asked a friend to help me.”

What insight–even fourth graders have recognized the potential impact of coding to engage students who don’t necessarily love school! At this rate, HSE21 Shorts wouldn’t be surprised if, in a few short years, computer programming classes in our high schools are full to overflowing!

The Pagemaster and the Performing Arts

3917_aaEach spring, the Fishers High School performing arts department showcases students in a unique way. An event, known as the Performing Arts (PA) Festival, is the culmination of a year’s focus around a common theme. During the year, all teachers in the performing arts department–band, orchestra, choir, drama, speech, and tech theater–engage their students in curriculum-driven ways to foster learning around the chosen theme. Throughout the year, learning deepens, connections are made, and collaboration grows, culminating in a stellar event that conveys a deeply understood and heart-felt message to eager audiences. Past themes include War & Peace, Love, The Oscars, and The Magic of Disney.

This year’s PA Festival will be based on the film The Pagemaster, a story of transformation from timidity to courage. Throughout this fall semester, performing arts students have been reading, researching, and collaborating. They’ve begun the artistic design process. In the spring, they’ll continue design, and begin rehearsals. In May, the Fishers community will be treated to the product of a year’s work of nearly five hundred students and faculty. HSE21 Shorts will revisit preparations for the PA Festival as the event approaches. Stay tuned!

The Pagemaster Project exemplifies 21st century learning. In the example below (from the vantage point of the FHS Bands), notice that student-choice, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, creation and presentation are all integral parts of the assignment. This fall, these factors have been at work within performing arts sectors. In the spring, these elements will still be present, as collaboration happens between the areas. HSE21 Shorts is excited to see how these groups, working together, will connect the dots and build the Festival!

View example: The Pagemaster Project – band

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Who’s Your Hero?

IMG_7897[1]HSE Freshman Campus English teacher Jen Torres’ class has focused on heroes this fall. Throughout the semester, Torres’ students read books of their choice about persons who could be classified as heroes. The freshmen also researched in depth to learn more about the lives of their heroes, in order to answer the driving question, What makes a hero? Are heroes born? Did something in a hero’s childhood build heroic character? Or…do heroes just make wise choices at pivotal times?

This weIMG_7900ek, the ninth graders’ hero study culminated with a Hero Fair in the school media center. Students used a variety of presentation tools and methods to share their learning with peers, school administrators, and other teachers. Many discoveries about heroes were shared; among others, students realized that heroes can definitely reside close to home! Local war veteran Josh Bleill‘s response to adversity definitely revealed his “hero-ness’, shared Kennedy, a student, in her presentation. Kennedy read Josh Bleill’s autobiography, One Step at a Time: A Young Marine’s Story of Courage, Hope and a New Life in the NFL and shared his story of triumph over adversity.

IMG_7898IMG_7896[1]The theme of ‘heroes’ clearly had an impact on Ms. Torres’ students. Through reading, writing, speaking, listening, designing, and pondering, the ninth graders all took away a deeper understanding of what heroism really means.


Sixth Grade Science…for a New Generation!

alig3Indiana’s sixth grade science standards state that students will “understand that there are different forms of energy with unique characteristics.” In generations past, a lesson on this topic might have included reading a textbook section and filling in a worksheet, not a method conducive to deep learning. Today’s HSE21 Short, from Stephanie Alig’s classroom at Riverside Intermediate, provides a compelling example of 21st century learning, where student inquiry and collaboration, powered-up by 21st century digital learning tools, foster enduring understandings of important scientific concepts.

alig1“I placed students in groups of two or three, so that they might collaborate and learn from each other. Each group investigated a form of energy (sound, light, heat, electrical, chemical, or elastic), by researching in their textbooks and online with their iPads. Each group’s responsibility was to create a one-minute presentation representing their form of energy. Groups used a variety of digital presentation tools to share their findings: iMovie, Haiku Deck, and Adobe Voice were three popular tools.”

alig2“Next, groups created Auras (using Aurasma) or QR codes as vehicles for presentation sharing. I placed the Auras and QR codes at ‘energy stations’ where the students a) watched the presentations; b) completed a mini-lab (made a circuit, energy sticks, measured heat, vinegar/baking soda, poppers, and diffraction grating glasses); and, c) submitted responses through Blackboard to demonstrate their understanding.”

If you are over thirty, does that sound like YOUR sixth grade science instruction?

Catapults, Collaboration and Creative Design

Youngimage004 children are naturals when it comes to creation and design. Catapults, rockets, roller coasters…just mention these words, and creative constructions are not far behind! Sand Creek Elementary recently provided a wonderful opportunity for   budding engineers and designers to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The event, known as Family Engineering Night, brought together over two-hundred-and-fifty members of the SCE community.  

Family Engineering Night came about through the vision of SCE third-grade teacher Holly Miller, who was awarded a grant for the project from the Hamilton Southeastern Schools Foundation. Attendees of the event witnessed a packed gymnasium where students and their families visited their choice of thirty hands-on engineering stations. Side-by-side, children and adults practiced creative design, critical thinking, and problem-solving. What type of boat will hold the most pennies? Can we design a roller coaster that will keep a marble moving for 5 seconds? Which materials make the most powerful catapult? Inquiry, design, and family interaction were highlights of the smashingly-successful evening…the photos shown here tell the story best.

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Day 55 – Learning About Authors Using QR Codes

In the library media center, the numbers we used to focus on were ones like 551.5 or 796.32 – the Dewey Decimal System numbers! Today we’re thinking a bit more outside the box! During the fall of 2014 we focused on these numbers: 1 goal; 2 grades; 3 months; 4 C’s; 5 W’s and a partridge in a pear tree. OK…no partridge, but QR codes and authors in the LRES LMC!

lrescollage2At Lantern Road Elementary School I have one goal for my students when they come to the library each week – learn something new! It might be a new story, a new fact or how to use a new piece of technology. Two grades, third and fourth grades, collaborated on a special project this fall to help students quickly reach that goal. It took us the better part of three months, but our goal was reached! We incorporated the four C’s, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, to introduce 560+ students and parents to some of our favorite authors and their websites. Once they were able to visit author websites via the iPad and QR codes, students were able to gain knowledge of the five W’s – who, what, when, where, and why!

lrescollageBenjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” I wanted the students to learn about authors and QR codes so they created and used them. Knowing very little about QR codes (Quick Response codes) myself, in August I took an online webinar through about QR codes and differentiating instruction using them. That’s all it took – I was excited to create with my students. In September the third grade students learned how to create QR codes using They created signs for the library media center that included an author’s name, a picture of the author, and a QR code linked to the author’s website. During October, fourth grade students used iPads and the QR Reader app to go on a scavenger hunt to find interesting information about authors and their books. Hopefully now when parents come in on our Family Reading Nights, they can use their devices to scan the signs for information also!

The numbers certainly add up to learning at Lantern Road Elementary School!!

-Submitted by Lori Silbert, Library Media Specialist, Lantern Road Elementary School