Transform Your Classroom into a Makerspace

As finals approached this year, I had a desire to do something different. In the past I’ve had students write a timed five-paragraph argument essay about whether Montag, from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, is a conformist or nonconformist. My students had already written four essays this year, so I decided to ditch the essay. Instead, I had them select a metaphor from the novel and asked them to bring it to life creating a 3D visual metaphor.

Anna Makerspace










I was not prepared for the level of enthusiasm, excitement, and creativity that was generated by this assignment. When I introduced the final exam, I told my students I wanted to be BLOWN AWAY.

My students entered the class eager to begin their work. They were so focused and on task. They each arrived with a unique vision and worked the entire time to bring that vision to life. Here is a short clip of them at work.

Now that finals are over, I am more convinced than ever that teachers need to embrace unconventional forms of assessment. I have kids who are extremely strong writers and do very well on essays. Similarly, I have students who are great test takers. Unfortunately, the kids who are innovative and think outside the box rarely get a chance to shine during finals. This week I found a way to give students the autonomy to create using any medium they wanted (clay, popsicle sticks, cardboard, newspaper, etc.).





Teachers need to take time to transform their classrooms into makerspaces where kids are encouraged to create, invent and learn. I bet none of my students will ever think about a metaphor in the same way again.

Despite teaching in a low-tech classroom, I’ve enjoyed challenging my students to “make” and create using everyday items. It has been exciting to experiment with tactile learning in an English classroom! Every time I’ve given them the freedom to create, I’ve been absolutely stunned by what they produce. This project was no different. They nailed it and I was totally blown away!

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21 Responses to Transform Your Classroom into a Makerspace

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  4. Alison Skertic says:

    I’ve been trying to think of ways to apply the maker movement to an English setting. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Crystal says:

    How do you assess these projects?

    • Hi Crystal,

      I evaluated their visual metaphors using a rubric. The elements I evaluated were:
      – Quality of Metaphor Selected
      – Three-Dimensional Qualities
      – Clarity of Visual Metaphor
      – Creativity in Construction

      Take care!

  6. K Takahashi says:

    Makerspaces are starting to make their way into some of our schools and school libraries. I would love to explore this concept as a different approach to teacher learning and professional development. Thanks for sharing this!

  7. Jackie says:

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines, and I love the connection to metaphor–my students will read Beowulf in the third quarter, and I have them make up their own kennings–perhaps I’ll also have them make a 3-D representation of a kenning from the epic itself!

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  12. Terry Anzaldi says:

    Could this be implemented in a standards-based environment? Our assessments are commonly scored using a set of measurement standards geared toward reading, writing, and speaking and listening.

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  15. Jodi says:

    What a great, innovative way to assess student learning. I bet they will remember this.

  16. Timothy Gfell says:

    I would love some more information on the Visual Metaphor lesson. How do you assign it to students so they know what they are doing and how to show mastery?

    • Hi Timothy,

      The assessment aligned to a reading standard and an ISTE student standard that I used for this particular assignment. I selected the standards and described what a 1, 2, 3, and 4 “looked” like for each. I want students to understand what mastery looks like for specific skills. This is a creative endeavor and for those types of projects, I usually rely on soft skills and ISTE standards.


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