On the first day of school, teachers anxiously await their fresh class of students in their meticulously decorated classrooms with lesson plans prepared. In the age of the internet, teachers can find plenty of ideas on how to embellish every inch of their classroom to engage students and create colorful, hands-on lesson plans, but the benefit of visual elements reaches far beyond mere aesthetics. How a classroom looks and what type of engagement a student receives in a lesson has a major impact on how they learn. To support teacher candidates in the classroom and prepare future educators to use the tools at their disposal, University of Findlay’s College of Education (COE) has introduced a MakerSpace through its Teacher Resource Center.
The MakerSpace is comprised of a community workspace, a Clear Touch Interactive Panel, a lounge area, and bookshelves of supplies. Teacher candidates and faculty members can take advantage of tools like button makers, laminators, and the newest Cricut to create visual tools, lesson plan materials, games, and classroom decorations.
Visual aids are a great resource in a classroom and encourage problem-solving as well as lesson reinforcement. “If you’re doing a lesson on how the letter ‘e’ at the end of a word makes the first vowel sound long and can think of some creative way to represent that rather than just lecturing or giving a memorization worksheet, that is really helpful to young students,” said Mary Heather Munger, Ph.D., assistant professor of education. “If you can present the same lesson using conceptual models or visual aids, you’re more likely to reach all of the students in your classroom.”
Fieldwork is connected to many of the classes here at Findlay, and with the MakerSpace, teacher candidates are able to create the materials they need to carry out their lesson plans. Developing physical materials forces teacher candidates to think through their instructional process. They have to analyze what materials are needed and what prior knowledge has to have been covered for the lesson to be successful.
Findlay COE professors and teacher candidates now have a space to create projects for on-campus and off-campus teaching. The potential barrier of having to pay to use equipment or materials to bring lessons to life has been reduced by the creation of this space. This space eases the burden of cost from the teacher candidates and will encourage them to imagine innovate uses of materials that will be at their disposal in the field.
Findlay’s COE is tracking how the space is used and plans to expand the equipment in the coming years. If you are interested in making a donation to the space, please contact College of Education staff member Lisa Dager at 419-434-6980 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the College of Education, visit www.findlay.edu/education.