How do you include Coding in a Classroom Makerspace, from Christine Dixon

Makerspace…you may already be using them with your students or perhaps you’ve never heard of them. Regardless, we’re excited to have Christine Dixon, a Makerspace extraordinaire, as our guest writer to help us explain what a Makerspace is and how to add them to your classroom.

BONUS- She’s sharing her classroom Makerspace creations with you for free! (And let us tell you, they’re fantastic!)

About Our Guest Writer

Christine Dixon is the Innovation Coordinator TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) for Double Peak K8 School in San Marcos Unified School District. She leads the Innovation Program for all TK-8 grades in the area of technology, coding, robotics, engineering, design thinking, and making in the school’s Makerspace. ​Mrs. Dixon has been an educator for 17 years.

Needless to say, she knows her stuff! When we saw Mrs. Dixon’s Virtual Makerspace, we were inspired and we knew we had to get her on the Kodable blog.

What is a Classroom Makerspace?

Mrs. Dixon’s response… 

“I am a firm believer that there is no one right way to define what a Makerspace is and what it looks like. I have seen so many different forms of Makerspaces, all unique and special in their own way.

It’s like the prototypes my students create; they all go about solving the problem in different, creative ways. In fact, some educators use the word Makerspace as a noun (a physical space) or a verb (the act of making).

Noun or verb, I believe it can be titled as “Makerspace” as long as its main goal, function, and existence is to ensure all students can engage in the following…

The 4 C’s of 21st Century Learning

  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Communication

STEAM Integration

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Arts 
  • Mathematics

As I share about Double Peak K8, you’ll notice I define Makerspace here as our entire Innovation Program. It’s the spaces (Makerspace, Innovation Lab & classrooms), the 4 C’s, and the content areas integrated with STEAM. Take a peek to see one school’s examples below!”

What was your journey with Makerspace?

Mrs. Dixon’s response…

“Our school was built five years ago, and I had the great privilege to design our Makerspace and Innovation Program from start to finish. Even as initial plans for our school were being made, I was able to visit other local schools and their Makerspace and dream up with my administrators what Double Peak’s Innovation Program would look like.

Since then, we have had 48 schools and/or district leaders tour our school and Makerspace to get ideas on how they might design their own versions. I am passionate about spreading the Makerspace movement, and dedicated to collaborating with other educators to help.

present at conferences, curate all of my lessons freely on my website, and stay connected with other STEAM educators all over the world because it is my passionate belief that ALL students deserve to have these learning opportunities.”

How have you transitioned teaching during distance learning? 

Mrs. Dixon’s response…

“As with all teachers having to shift to remote teaching last Spring, I had to completely transform my teaching way and redesign our school-wide Innovation Program. How could I continue the robust innovation program that my students so deserved remotely?

It became my very own design thinking challenge, like those I would pose to my student innovators in our Makerspace.

Kids playing Kodable for their classroom makerspace.
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No matter how daunting the task was, one thing was very clear, my definition of Makerspace would not change. I knew that it was crucial that I encouraged the 4 Cs by using remote learning edtech tools such as Flipgrid, Seesaw, Nearpod 4, Jamboard, Padlet and more.

“As every other teacher, I was the learner, and I was hungry for knowledge to help make learning engaging and meaningful for our students.”

Teaming up with my friend and colleague, Marla Rosenthal who held the same Innovation position at a neighboring school, we quickly began to create STEAM Challenges for our students as well as throughout our district.

We shared these freely with other educators so they would not need to reinvent the wheel when everything else they taught needed reinventing. 

Click here for copies of all 7 STEAM Challenges you can use for your own students.

STEAM Challenges for classroom makerspace activities.
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https://makedesigninnovate.weebly.com/bloglesson-share/at-home-steam-distance-learning-activities-for-teachers-and-students

As the new school year began and we continued to be remote, we created integrated ELA and STEAM units for our K-5 teachers and students that would enrich their learning at home and keep them engaged in the many Makerspace activities we would typically do in-person.

One of my favorite ways to do this was making Virtual Makerspaces that gave students so many ways to learn and create.

 Click here for all 5 Units of K-5 Virtual Makerspace and Innovation lessons.

Here comes the coding in a Classroom Makerspace!

Mrs. Dixon’s response…

“In December, our entire school celebrated computer science for three weeks using our Computer Science Choice Board. Students learned about computer science and why coding in schools is so important. They learned about new coding platforms, Kodable was a huge favorite, and then they dove into creating by coding.

Kids playing Kodable for their classroom makerspace activity.
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Seeing the huge success of this school-wide celebration, even while students were at home on their remote days, was one of the best examples of how flexible and ever-changing the idea of what a classroom Makerspace is.”

Want to try coding in your classroom Makerspace?

Kodable is FREE for all teachers

How do you make today’s Makerspace work?

Mrs. Dixon’s response…

“Today, I am physically present in my empty Makerspace while my student innovators are at home on their remote days. Makerspace happens through grade-level Zooms, office hours, and robust asynchronous lessons we have created for all students.

I am missing the noisy excitement of this space and observing in awe as students collaborate in design teams, bustling around the Makerspace to grab materials & to complete the challenge or solve a problem (please watch this to see them in action). Yet, I know it’s all temporary, and we’ll be back to this version of a Makerspace very soon!”

How do you “do” Makerspace? I’d love to hear about your Makerspace journey! Please connect and collaborate with me here:

Guest Writer: Christine Dixon

How do you include Coding in a Classroom Makerspace, from Christine Dixon by
Classroom Makerspace
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