Educators are finding that the new “makerspace” movement – a strategy to teach K-12 students science, math and technology through hands-on activities – is providing the added benefit of helping English learners become more proficient in the language.
“Expressing their ideas in notebooks is important. It’s not just about tinkering,” said Jerry Valadez, president of Community Science Workshop Network, which runs the Wilson makerspace and others in Fresno, Watsonville, Greenfield and Salinas. Of the English learner students, he added, “The makerspaces help these underserved kids believe that they can be scientists or an engineer. It allows them to walk with a little more confidence.”“I love it,” said Tania Braxton, a 4th grade teacher. “It’s a lot different than teaching from a textbook. It allows students to explore and helps them to explain things through speaking and listening.”
English learners agreed.
“I get to voice my opinion a lot more than before,” 4th-grader Maelena Perez said in English.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said classmate Ariel Porras.