Giving Compass' Take

• The Hechinger Report profiles a Montana school district that has invested in high-tech makerspaces to boost digital learning and encourage students to succeed.

• Are there opportunities for other school districts to replicate this effort? In what ways can nonprofits support more classroom creativity and nontraditional learning?

Here's how schools can build makerspaces to encourage coding skills

In Havre Public Schools in northern Montana, it’s not uncommon for middle schoolers to arrive early. Parents need to get to work and the school building is a safe place to drop them off, even before classes start. Some students play basketball or volleyball as the clock ticks closer to first period, but for those who don’t like sports, there has been little else to do than sit on the bleachers and wait — until this year.

Now the middle school, along with two of the district’s other elementary schools and its high school, have makerspaces. Beyond giving students a new way to pass the time in the mornings, Superintendent Andy Carlson sees the makerspaces as a way to engage kids who may have been marginalized in past years because of their interests.

“The makerspace has given some opportunity for those kids to have their moment, for them to shine,” Carlson said.

Walking through Havre Public Schools this year, a visitor would likely take note of the makerspaces. They’re in four out of the district’s five traditional schools and they’re well-stocked, a set-up that might come as a surprise given that Havre is a rural district near the Canadian border, a place one might not expect to see the latest technologies. But the district’s tech initiatives recently got a boost thanks to a partnership with the VMware Foundation (the philanthropic arm of a cloud computing company), Team4Tech (an organization that connects volunteers with nonprofits to improve educational quality around the world) and the Consortium for School Networking (a professional organization for school district technology leaders).

Read the full article about makerspaces in Montana by Tara García Mathewson at The Hechinger Report.