Meet Beth Erlenborn
If you want to learn about Beth Erlenborn and her O.H. Anderson media class, aside from witnessing it firsthand, you should begin with her website. There she has cataloged learning apps, research links and parent resources. But if you bypass the Choice Time tab—thinking, choice time is just free time—you will overlook one of the most important components of Erlenborn’s classroom.
“These are cubelets.” Erlenborn picks up one of the brightly colored plastic cubes and turns the 21st century, digital-age block over in her hand, “Students work together to build robots with these.” Then, pointing to the clear storage bin of inverters, forks, LED lines and cables, “these are the circuit sets.” Breaking her gaze from the robotics, engineering and circuitry kits MAEF helped her purchase, she looks out over the media center with eyes that see possibility for her students. “My goal is to have enough robotics, engineering and circuitry materials for each of the six tables. That way every student will have the opportunity to create and test their ideas during choice time.” These makerspace stations—activities that encourage students to explore, experiment, and take the lead in their learning—create an accelerated learning environment. With emphasis Erlenborn adds, “Choice time is when hands-on, spontaneous exploration takes place. I can’t script that kind of innovative learning.”
MAEF’s mission to support Mahtomedi Public Schools is actualized when teachers like Erlenborn say, “MAEF funding helped me get one step closer to reaching my goal.”