Monticello Middle School – An Illinois Horizons School To Watch

One outstanding practice at Monticello Middle School is an emphasis on the importance of hands on education, specifically in the area of STEM. Our math and science teachers utilize authentic learning opportunities to help students learn content while developing solutions to real world problems. As we began implementing technology in the form of Chromebook carts, we identified that one of our two computer labs could be converted into a makerspace. The makerspace has been a valuable addition to our school as it provides all of our students with an opportunity to use a variety of equipment and technology.

The makerspace has large tables where students can work collaboratively on a variety of projects and the space is available to all teachers in the building, regardless of content area. The makerspace also houses two 3D printers, a 3D scanner, computers, a sewing machine, a laser engraver, hand tools, and more. The equipment in the space is varied to include both high tech and low tech options, so students can learn how to use a variety of equipment. The equipment in the space was also specially selected to include options to meet the varied developmental needs of the students in our school. Students are required to become certified in each piece of equipment to ensure that they know how to safely use the items. To become certified, students watch an interactive video about the equipment and then complete a hands on task to demonstrate their understanding. This certification is an opportunity for students to learn new skills, such as how to drive a nail or use a saw.

Students are able to visit the space during one of their study hall periods each day. There is a rotating schedule of activities that students may participate in during these free periods. When working on projects, students are encouraged to work collaboratively and respectfully. Each Friday the students are presented with a real-world problem to solve with their peers. In order to accomplish the tasks, the students draw designs and then participate in an engineer circle to discuss their designs, which requires them to think carefully and critically.

The makerspace is also open after school one afternoon a week. This provides students with an opportunity to participate in a multi-grade level activity as all students in the building are welcome to stay and build. Because of our commitment to families, special events are held in the space, which allows students to visit the space with their family members. The makerspace is also open to families during the summer. Events for grade school students are held in the space throughout the year to provide them with opportunities to build and to become familiar with the middle school. Our implementation of a makerspace has also provided us with an opportunity to connect with other schools from around the state. We regularly have teachers and administrators who are interested in visiting our makerspace as a way to learn how they can implement a makerspace in their buildings. We also regularly share our makerspace ideas and activities with other teachers by presenting at workshops and conferences.

Monticello Middle School
2015 E. Washington St.
Monticello, IL 61856
P: (217) 762-8511