I love opportunities to connect with community and bring expertise, talents, and interests to our students. Recently, a parent contacted me to tell me that her child’s grandmother was traveling to Athens to visit and would love to do book making with some students at our school. I immediately responded back that we would love to have this opportunity in our makerspace, and the planning began.
Grandmother Kathleen sent me a list of supplies we would need, so I ordered those from Amazon in advance. She packed everything else on her flight from Texas.
I also communicated with Gretchen Thomas at UGA to let her know that her students could help Kathleen during this makerspace time. I let teachers know the topic of the makerspace in advance and students signed up to participate across two days (Tuesday and Thursday).
When Kathleen arrived, her enthusiasm for art was contagious. You could tell that she was an amazing art teacher in Texas. She had multiple examples of books she had made from instruction found in Making Books that Fly, Fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist, and Turn.
She had a different kinds of book planned for each group who visited the makerspace: 1st & 3rd grade, 5th grade, and 4th grade.
Before each group arrived, she put materials at each chair with the help of Gretchen’s UGA students. She gave very clear, step-by-step instructions for each group and me and the UGA students went around assisting students as needed.
Because each project took more than 30-minutes, we reached a stopping point and then stored the projects for Thursday.
Each book had its own purpose and made me and the students think about so many possibilities. One book allowed you to record things from different perspectives. Another book allowed you to write your own Choose Your Own Adventure story with pull out cards. Another book fanned out like a flower and allowed you to put poems, photographs, and more within the folds.
Each time Kathleen showed us a book, my mind was swirling with connections to each grade level’s curriculum. Students were focused, productive, and buzzing with excitement about today’s makerspace. I bet that when students are involved in the process of creating their own published books, they are more likely to fill those books with productive writing. I know that when I personally made my own book during the final 30-minute session, I really wanted to go home and fill it with writing and photographs.
I was reminded once again about how many interests and talents are hiding within our students, families, extended families, and community. Alone, I would not have thought much about book making or how to attempt it with groups of students. However, now that the expertise of a grandparent was shared with me and our students, I’m considering new possibilities with projects.
How many more talents and interests are just waiting for us within our communities? How do we tap into these resources? This was an opportunity that was given to me, but I know that if I had a way of unearthing and organizing the wealth of talents and interests in our community that more opportunities like this would make its way to our students and teachers.