When I read this the other day I thought, this is a call to action for library staff:
“The Department of Education (ED) and Alliance for Excellent Education are announcing the launch of Future Ready Librarians, an expansion of the Future Ready initiative aimed at raising awareness among district and school leaders about the valuable role librarians can play in supporting the Future Ready goals of their school and district. Among other critical roles, Future Ready Librarians design collaborative library spaces that enable open-ended exploration, tinkering, and making that empower students as creators, and will serve as digital learning coaches who work side by side with teachers. In addition, a network of nationally recognized librarians, with support from Follett, will provide input on the development of strategies aligned with the Future Ready Framework, and five Future Ready Summits will be held in regional locations throughout the country and will include librarian-designed and facilitated sessions for district leadership teams on designing collaborative learning spaces. – From the White House Fact Sheet on the President’s Nation of Makers initiative.
I think that announcement is a pretty exciting one and not just because libraries are called out. (Yes, that’s awesome.) Also notice there is a strong focus on the impacts that making activities facilitated with, through, and by libraries. Read this again:
“Among other critical roles, Future Ready Librarians design collaborative library spaces that enable open-ended exploration, tinkering, and making that empower students as creators, and will serve as digital learning coaches…”
That’s key to the future of making and the future of the library’s role in supporting and facilitating making activities. It’s a focus on empowering students (and in the context of the YALSAblog, teens) and connecting them to meaningful learning activities through making. For this work to succeed beyond the making hype and excitment of the current day, it’s vitally important that library staff articulate loudly and often the value of the making activities in which they are engaged and how these activities aren’t just about spending some time with materials – LittleBits, 3D printers, Spheros, and so on – instead they are about the way that the activities that use these tools help teens and communities be college and career ready.
If you need some help getting started with these ideas, four useful resources are:
- YALSA’s Making in the Library Toolkit is filled with making activity ideas, AND includes information on how to measure the impact of your making activities on the youth that you work with.
- Starting on 6/27, staff from the Exploratorium Tinkering Studio are facilitating a class titled, Tinkering Fundamentals: A Tinkering Approach to Constructionist Learning. This Coursera-based course is a great way to get some hands-on experience with tinkering, and talk with others about the learning that goes along with tinkering/making activities. (Also, YALSA members should look for an an article in the summer issue of YALS on the topic of tinkering by staff at the Tinkering Studio.)
- Interconnections is a series of books published by MIT Press. As stated on the MIT Press website:
“The books in the Interconnections collection offer K-12 educators a curriculum toolkit for supporting systems thinking with a design-based approach to learning that aligns with current Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards while still being relevant to youth interests in digital culture.” Along with each book you can also purchase the materials used in each of the curricula included in that title.
- Effective Facilitation in Educational Maker Space Setting a short overview of research findings related to creating successful learning experiences through making activities.
During this National Week of Making think beyond the activities you are planning and hosting. Think about the future through the lens of what making can mean to the teens that you serve. Speak up about the role the library plays in guaranteeing that teens are future ready through making activities. Be a leader in ensuring the making that happens in, with, and through your library is seen in the community, and actually is, a powerful and valuable learning experience.