Giving Compass' Take:

• Makerspaces are potentially becoming the place that English language learners can learn about STEM subjects effectively. The author details how maker education does not put emphasis on the language barrier which in turn serves as a more productive environment for English learners to concentrate. 

• How can maker education help other students who have trouble in traditional learning environments?

• Read about how educators are building maker spaces that foster creativity and coding. 

What is the best way to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to students who haven’t mastered English? Some educators believe the answer lies in maker education, the latest pedagogical movement that embraces hands-on learning through making, building, creating and collaborating.

That approach seems especially suited for STEM education, and particularly students who speak foreign languages at home. Maker education’s emphasis on critical thinking, creativity and experimentation means that lack of English proficiency becomes less of a barrier.

“Makerspaces” can serve as equalizer chambers where native and non-native English speakers learn STEM side by side by tackling projects and solving problems. Students can write computer code, prototype designs with 3-D printers or build robots — all while learning about teamwork and how to handle setbacks and mistakes.

Nearly one in every 10 students are learning English as a second language. English language learners (ELL) are the fastest-growing group in public schools and are projected to account for 40 percent of K-12 enrollment by 2040.

Maker education gives ELLs “a vehicle to express themselves and a tool that can help them learn the lessons without necessarily having mastered the English language,” according to USC Rossier’s guide to maker education.

If you’re interested in creating a makerspace in your classroom or school, here are five ways to make it work for ELL students:

  • Secure administrator buy-in.
  • Just go for it.
  • Keep it inclusive.
  • Tap all the senses.
  • Use visual cues.

Read the full article about how maker spaces can help english-learners with STEM by Caroline Linne at Getting Smart