Have you been to the Makerspace in UWEC’s Library? Do you appreciate crafts and hands-on projects or need a mental break from your studies? Visit McIntyre Library’s Makerspace!
This is what students in ESL 291 Learning to Learn did in November. Twelve ESL students, along with a class mentor, a visiting scholar, and their instructor, Jesica Nkouaga, visited the Makerspace in the lower level of the McIntyre Library. With goals of learning about campus resources, engaging in an artistic project to relieve stress, and performing team-building activities, students made tote bags out of recycled tee-shirts and then engaged in several team building activities.
Librarian, Lilian LaValle, walked students through a step-by-step process to create tote bags out of recycled tee-shirts, which were all donated to the library. First, students cut the tee-shirts following LaValle’s instructions and then they tied them accordingly. In the process, students learned new vocabulary such as fringe, braid, knot, and more.
Students also engaged in several team building activities that allowed them to practice spontaneous language. LaValle had prepared pictures of fabric which was knotted and braided into specific patterns. For the team building activities, half of the team had the task of describing the image to the other half of the team who was tasked with creating the same image using fabric and supplies. These activities engaged the students in authentic language practice and tested their ability to use descriptive language.
Back in the classroom, students reflected on their experience, and many students said they were surprised that they could recycle a tee-shirt and make a tote bag out of it! Student, Chen Qian, remarked, “I was very impressed by making handbags with recycled t-shirts in Makerspace, because this kind of handicraft course is very rare in China. In that activity, I learned how to work in a team and learned many new words. I think this activity is very meaningful, which makes me like the course of 291 more!”
LaValle reflected that, “McIntyre Library’s Makerspace is an excellent place to bring a class for truly active learning. Not only does it provide students with the opportunity to make something hands-on, but they are practicing authentic communication skills and problem-solving. I especially love seeing students engage with the team challenges, even the quieter students get involved and the groups come up with such creative ways to describe what their teammates should do.”
Nkouaga, hopes to help ESL students meet native English-speaking students in Makerspace in the future. Her ESL students are planning to visit Makerspace again for an upcoming open craft activity where they will learn to make paper crafts such as cards and snowflakes. Nkouaga says, “The idea is that students will feel free to go to Makerspace in their free-time and meet other students, and perhaps, make new friends!”
Thank you to Dr. Jessica Miller for the idea to take students to Makerspace. Miller was one of the first professors from the Department of Languages to take her French students to Makerspace. To find out more about Makerspace, please contact librarian, Liliana LaValle.
Digital Learning & Instruction Librarian
1001D McIntyre Library