About teacherstone

I am an assistant principal of a K-4 elementary school. I have taught grades 2nd-5th and served as an instructioanl technology coach for the district for six years. I am a NBCT, STAR teacher, and DEN teacher. I am also a technology adjunct professor at UAB Birmingham. I am currenlty working on my PhD in Educational Leadership and Instructional Technology Curriculum.

Are You A Maker? MAKERology

MAKER– a person that makes, hacks, produces, wood/metal work, creates something new.  Many times a maker includes a creator of new technologies: new devices, video games, electronics, robotics, and/or apps.  Makers are DIY people/persons.  They have a unique culture of thinking and mindset.  A Maker also includes a creative mind, innovated ideas, and the ability to make things come to life (Kickstarter).  Makers support open source hardware, they tinker, and see cardboard/recyclables as tools (Junk ReThunk).  The Maker Movement is fast moving and supports Constructivism/Social Constructivism learning.  What a great movement for purposeful play, discovery, and developmentally appropriate activities for our students.

OLOGY – a subject to study  or branch of knowledge

MAKEROLOGY (EDU Version) – The study of MAKING  (What is best for students?  Best Practices with Making, STEAM, and looking at your learning space with 21st – century eyes:  Does it work for what we know about learning today, or just for what we knew about learning in the past?  Do you have a space for making?  Making is not about the tools.  It is about creativity, opportunities, design, the environment, and time).

Maker Movement – If you create a system where initiative and creativity is valued and rewarded, then you’ll get change for the bottom up.

~Paul Pastorek


Maker Week 2016

MakerprojectsMaker Week was a huge success. Students across all grades, K-4, were engaged in student centered making. As a part of the week, teachers and students worked to build a Boat Launch with an emphasis on using recycled materials. Samford University, pre-service teachers worked along side the STEAM facilitator and other faculty to gather materials for over 350 students to make boats to launch. Milk containers along with many donated recyclables made the experience creative and innovative for students.  Thank you @Scrapkins for the idea! Students rotated during PE to build and make with the new Imagination Playground and launch their boats. Data collection was part of the experience along with many discussions on boat redesign.  Second through fourth grade students recorded data on how fast their boat traveled down the launcher and kindergarten recorded data on a Venn diagram (did your boat float, did your boat make it the other side of the pool and both).

Dr. Seuss was also a theme within the week that allowed students to make related to literature.

Classroom teachers were active in the MakerStudio facilitating student making. Grades K-4 used the space to facilitate learning in the classroom as well as free design. Free design included student made mazes for robots to be coded through, canoodles, pixelation with pinblocks, drone challenges,a crane with rigamajigs and 3d printing with tynkercad designs and structures with sticklets.

Makerfest rounded out the week with over 65 students attending a Friday night event with making for all ages. Younger students built and made with various materials. The new IO blocks were a hit with K-1 students while drone challenges and rigamajig contraptions were leaders with the older students.

Successful Implementation of Makerspaces – Part I

Success with integration and implementation of Makerspaces is quite simple.  Simple with respect to pedagogy, vision, tools and buy-in. Not so simple if these aspects are not in place. Technology (laptops, robots, ipads etc.) and various materials without pedagogy will impact the success of the space.  For some reason, the onset of a makerspace for many focuses on money, what others have, and the things/devices rather than on the process.  The heart of success with any new initiative/movement can be found in leadership and passionate teachers with good sound pedagogy and practices.   Sustained implementation requires teaching (knowing the curriculum) first followed by the tools.  A passionate, self-seeking teacher(s)/leader(s) who studies the curriculum, seeks professional development, shares and collaborates with others via their PLN and conferences is the ONLY true key to a successful initiative.

Second is the VISION and the expectation. The culture of a school is very instrumental in success. Leadership that supports “making” as a culture drives the expectations of the faculty.  What is the vision and the branding of the school and how will it impact the culture of the school.

Third, what tools (not tech toys) will have the most success in the implementation phase.  You want everyone to participate, use, and be willing to learn whatever the new tool might be.  Success for the teacher needs to come early.  Many times, we have to buy products ahead of time and test them before it is rolled out.  When you decide on the tools, giving good sound examples with the curriculum standards will always attract teachers.  If it is seen as a toy, teachers will see it as one more thing and not part of the curriculum.  Technology is there to help teachers and enhance the curriculum.

Lastly, leaders must know how to generate buy-in from teachers.  It is important to implement in a way that fits your school’s beliefs and educational culture (not someone else’s vision or design).  All schools are different.  You’ll get nowhere with a one-size fits all approach.

Success Steps:

1.  Pedagogy

2.  Vision and expectation

3.  Technology

4.  Buy – In

*This is part 1 of a series of blog post on Makerspaces.  More to come on Learning Environments and their purpose.


The gamification of learning is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using video game design and game elements in learning environments. The goal is to maximize enjoyment and engagement through capturing the interest of learners and inspiring them to continue learning.

~ Wikipedia

How to gamify your classroom:

1.  Create a mission

2.  Use Badges

3.  Create a place to create

4.  Use video games

5.  Create video games


Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Starting a Maker Space

The Maker Movement

Makerspaces, sometimes also referred to as hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs are creative, DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn.

Below are a few things to consider as you get started with your Makerspace:

1.  The most important thing about a makerspace is to provide a place for students and teachers to be creative, to explore questions and ideas they have (whiteboard wall is great for Visible Thinking), to build something, all in a safe environment. The space should be thought out ahead of time and not just thrown together with TECH TOYS.  Technology is not to be seen as a toy but rather a tool that enhances curriculum and learning.

2.  The makerspace CAN BE no-tech, low-tech, or high – tech.  In our case, we have developed a space for high-tech with a lot of engineering tools and literature.  See OUR MAKERSPACE TAB soon (It’s under construction currently).

3.  What will you use the space for?  You will need to set the expectation about what will be done in that space.  Will it be an open room, have a set schedule, or have a facilitator for the area.  Someone will also have to manage the materials and know have to keep the technology up and working if you have a high- tech area.

4.  Areas with expectations (signs/rules) in the makerspace let students know what that area/tool/materials are for.  Posting expectations/rules helps students stay on task.

5.  It is also important that you allow for students work to be posted/hanging in the area.  Students also need to the freedom to leave their works of art out only to return to add more to their creation.  Storage of their work is important.

6.  Make-It challenges are also a nice thing to have hanging in the area.  As students finish a project, that have other things they can create.

7.  Visible thinking is a MUST.  Students are able to re-visit their thinking and add to their thoughts as they work through their creations.  We have a whiteboard wall that students brainstorm and add to as their project/creation grows.

8.  Low-tech areas are a great starting point for any school.  Materials would consist of art supplies, cardboard, blocks, legos, duct tape, scissors, glue, pattern blocks, literature, yarn, towel tubes, marbles and other various materials that will allow them to create pieces of art, sculptures, and design Rube Goldbery Machines.

9.  START with what you have and what you know.  Only you know what can be created and be successful.  For us, we cleaned out closets, old science kits, and other various boxes only to find to big surprises!  Move things around.  You don’t need top of the line furniture etc.  Create your own works of art.  Remember…the space is for students.  What do you think they want to see, build, feel, hear, and smell?


A MAKERSPACE (hackerspace, fablab, DIY space, Maker Studio, MakerSquare) is a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, create, invent, learn, network, and build. Makerspaces provide tools and space in a community environment.  A facilitator may be available some of the time, but often the time is used for tynkering and creating.   The Makerspace is often associated with fields (STEAM, STEM) such as engineering, computer science, and graphic design.

Makerspaces in an education setting also provide a place and materials for creativity to be expressed. Tools may consist of (but not limited to): 3D printers, computers, robots, building materials, art supplies, software for gaming, tools (hammer, screw-driver etc.), books, and other various tools depending on the space (library, studio, building, warehouse).  These spaces can easily be cross-disciplinary allowing students in many fields to use them.  Makerspaces, in schools, allow students to take control of their own learning as they take ownership of projects they have not just designed but defined. Makerspaces in education are a great spaces for inquiry-based learning, project/problem -based learning, challenge-based learning, make it challenges, and hands-on collaboration. Click on OUR MAKER STUDIO to learn more about our physical space in a K-4 setting.

Makerspace Playbook PDF – provided by MAKE.

Mini Maker Workshop

Maker CampCome join us for an AWESOME day of Professional Development at Samford University on February 7th from 8am – 3pm.  Event information can be found  at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/create-make-play-mini-maker-faire-tickets-14179696855

Attendees will participate and collaborate in hands-on activities as they construct, MAKE, and build using some of the following below:

1.  Green Screens – Create movies using apps to produce movies that can take place anywhere in the world.

2.  Robotics – Learn about Sphero, Ollie, NXT, WeDo, and Meet Einstein.

3.  Legos/Boxes/Tinker Toys – Activities that will engage students all day with building and engineering.

4.  Little Bits – Create and build projects with electrical/magnetic pieces.

5.  All About Coding – Get the most current websites and apps for coding.

6.  Google Apps and Extensions

7.  MAKE and TECH – learn about Touchboards, MakeyMakey, Conductive Ink etc…

8.  Music

Space is limited due to materials needed for all to MAKE and CREATE.  All activities are hands-on, limited to 50 attendees.


Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 9.13.18 AMTwister is a fun tool from Classtools.net. Twister, like Fakebook and Fake SMS allows you to imagine what historical figures would have done if they had access to social media. Twister allows you to create fake tweets about this person and fun hashtags.   When studying famous people or reading biographies, this would be a great technology project for upper grades.
To create a fake Tweet on Twister just go to the site and enter a name, a Tweet, and date stamp for your Tweet. Twister will pull a public domain image for the profile picture and show you the fake Tweet. Your fake Tweet will be given its own URL. You can also just take a screenshot of it to save it.