Albermarle County Schools in Virginia have embraced the Maker movement. In an effort to bring real world skills to students, Makerspaces are classroom models that combine hands on learning experiences with traditional instructional methods. The Albermarle schools are ensuring that students will be "making" from Kindergarten all the way up through high school. Additionally some Makerspaces in the district are grade level-agnostic and focus on incorporating maker ideals of collaboration, experimentation and creation. Although student choice makes up much of the day, there is a balance between traditional and makerspace instruction. "We really pride ourselves on interdisciplinary learning, so this space can be used by anyone," Chad Ratliff says as he stands in this mix of a makerspace, woodshop, and high-tech computer lab. Along with students practicing writing and storytelling using screenshots from web based games, other students are receiving direct literacy instruction in a different area within the Makerspace. Portfolios are used to document learning instead of assessment tests. One of the libraries in the district removed and donated half its books and filled the space with a Makerbot 3D printer, sewing machines, Spheros, and more. "We don't put limits on this. Because there are informal making opportunities all over the place, the students can do something they're interested in - whenever they want," Superintendent Moran says.
By: Kathleen Ideguchi