Change your Words, Change your Mind

On Friday, our team had the privilege of visiting the enormously fun and immensely welcoming Gretchko Elementary School, a K-2 school in West Bloomfield. Our tour was led by the lovely and talented Amy Quinn (as well as some of her first graders).

Projects in the makerspaces were connected to the Engineering Process Pathway.
Projects in the makerspaces were connected to the Engineering Process Pathway.

Gretchko has truly embraced a culture of making. Teachers have their own mini makerspaces in their classrooms, the school’s media center, called the icenter, has exploratory stations that seamlessly blend literacy and STEM, and the school has transformed an old hallway into another shared makerspace.

Kids had ownership over their spaces.
Kids had ownership over their spaces.

Throughout our tour of the classroom and shared makerspaces, we were struck by two things. The first was how engaged and on-task the kids were. Even in the rare cases where kids needed to be redirected, they were quick to refocus just by asking, “What are you working on?”

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One of the teachers applied for a grant for giant Legos. During our tour, we got to see kids prototyping designs for zoo habitats using the blocks.

Second, we were extremely excited to see how the whole school has embraced a maker culture. Teachers collaborate and support each other, with the help of administration. The atmosphere advocated exploration and reflection, all while seeking to foster a growth mindset in students. Teachers don’t place limits on their students. Instead, they seek to facilitate and further their learning by creating opportunities to make thinking visible.

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“See,” “Think,” “Wonder,” is one of the protocols used to help students make their thinking visible.

Gretchko was such an exciting place to visit, and an encouraging example of how powerful the maker movement can be in education when it is embraced as part of the culture of the school.

One of the many awesome stations in the icenter - this strange contraption is actually used to explore music and sound.
One of the many awesome stations in the icenter – this strange contraption is actually used to explore music and sound.

Check out more photos on our Flickr!

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