MassCUE Learning Tour: Sharon Public Schools
Makerspaces Transforming Blah to Hurrah
Library makerspaces are creating quite a buzz these days. But how does one go about transforming spaces from blah to hurrah? On Sept. 13th, guests from neighboring districts participated in a MassCUE Learning Tour  of the Sharon Public Schools library makerspaces.
“Sharing our district journey from imagining and visioning to creating action plans…”- Cathy
Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Information Services, Dr. John Marcus and I, served as co-hosts for the day, sharing our district journey from imagining and visioning to creating action plans, gathering resources and materials, scheduling formal and informal learning activities, aligning activities to standards and showcasing student creations. We stressed that ours was a journey very much in process, and encouraged participants to share their own vision along with their nuts and bolts implementation efforts. The rich sharing that took place provided fun and value for participants as well as for us as co-hosts!
Therein lies the value of Learning Tours.
By visiting other districts and sharing with colleagues working in a wide range of educational settings, we are temporarily lifted above real and imagined constraints, as we collectively learn from each other. It is somewhat similar to that feeling of rising above the gray clouds when flying and suddenly viewing clear, blue skies of possibility.
Participants viewed our library makerspaces at all grade levels through visits that started at the high school and continued at one of our elementary schools followed by our middle school. Along the way, students shared, demonstrated their learning about makerspaces and answered questions. Members of our Digital Literacy Team of instructional technology and library media specialists also shared about the development of our makerspace resources, scheduling, organization and steps toward creating a schoolwide maker culture.
In the words of one participant, Chris Allen, MS/HS library media specialist from Duxbury, “I attended the MassCUE Library MakerSpace Learning Tour this week and it was certainly time well spent. We learned how Sharon Public Schools is approaching the Maker Movement through discussions facilitated by co-hosts for the day, Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Information Services, Dr. John Marcus and SHS Library Media Specialist, Cathy Collins. We were also able to see the physical MakerSpaces of schools at various levels. In addition, we brainstormed Maker ideas for our own schools and districts. It was a fantastic way to see and hear what is happening in other districts.”
The visit would not have been complete without a lunch break at Sharon’s popular “Coriander Bistro,” which allowed for more informal sharing, brainstorming and the ambiance of a delicious Indian buffet enjoyed with beautiful Indian music and décor in the background to further creatively inspire us.
Julia Cameron’s wonderful book, “The Artist’s Way,” encouraged us to feed our naturally artistic spirits through the forming of “creative clusters,” a spiritual version of PLN’s. So, too, Learning Tours allow us as educators valuable opportunities to share and in doing so, spark each other’s innate creativity.
“It is my belief and my experience as a teacher that all of us are healthy enough to practice creativity.”- Cathy
I wholeheartedly agree with Cameron, who said, “It is my belief and my experience as a teacher that all of us are healthy enough to practice creativity. It is not a dangerous endeavor requiring trained facilitators. It is our human birthright and something we can do gently and collectively. Creativity is like breathing – pointers may help, but we do the process ourselves. Creative clusters, where we gather as peers to develop our strength, are best regarded as tribal gatherings, where creative beings raise, celebrate, and actualize the creative power which runs through us all.”
Those interested in joining MassCUE’s version of a creative cluster are encouraged to sign up for our Makerspace SIG !
Visit our Makerspace SIG page  for more information and a list of scheduled meeting dates for the school year.
Cathy Collins 
MassCUE Makerspace SIG Leader