Rebecca Millerjohn | Movers & Shakers 2020–Change Agents

With a background in educational theory and practice, Rebecca Millerjohn is able to make connections between the unscripted learning that happens in Maker spaces and the standards-based curricula that educators need to meet. Millerjohn, youth services librarian at Madison Public Library (MPL), has developed ways to analyze and track learning through Maker spaces by identifying learning indicators, creating observational assessment tools, and training facilitators to look for those indicators in students. She is currently creating a digital observation tool, an app where educators can oversee Maker activities, log photos, and record indicators to tell better, stronger stories about what’s happening in Maker spaces.

Sidsel Bech-Petersen

CURRENT POSITION

Youth Services Librarian, Madison Public Library, WI 

DEGREE

MLIS, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2016

HONORS

Communications Teaching Fellow, Writing Across the Curriculum, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2015

FAST FACT

"I don’t want another job ever.”

FOLLOW

@madisonbubbler; madisonpubliclibrary.org/impact; madisonbubbler.org/
bubblermakingspaces

Photo by Jennifer Bastian

 

Creativity Tracker

With a background in educational theory and practice, Rebecca Millerjohn is able to make connections between the unscripted learning that happens in Maker spaces and the standards-based curricula that educators need to meet. Millerjohn, youth services librarian at Madison Public Library (MPL), has developed ways to analyze and track learning through Maker spaces by identifying learning indicators, creating observational assessment tools, and training facilitators to look for those indicators in students. She is currently creating a digital observation tool, an app where educators can oversee Maker activities, log photos, and record indicators to tell better, stronger stories about what’s happening in Maker spaces.

"I never thought I’d design a digital app," she says, "But analysis…is hard to do without systems and tools."

Millerjohn collaborated with six Madison schools to develop Maker programs and spaces as part of MPL’s Making Spaces initiative, a partnership between the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and MPL’s the Bubbler, a hub connecting the community to artists through free, hands-on making, exhibitions and communitywide events.

Started in 2017 in collaboration with Maker Ed, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and Google Making & Science, Making Spaces supports the expansion of Maker education and integrates making activities into schools. MPL was the only public library of a ten-organization cohort in the first round, which now spans 21 regional hubs and more than 200 schools nationwide.

The program expanded in 2018, adding seven schools, and another three were added in 2019. MPL’s Bubbler team worked with the schools to create large-scale Maker projects like stop-motion animation videos, spoken word poems and stories, textiles and basic sewing, recording original songs, and writing beats, bars, and rhymes for a poetry slam.

Trent Miller, MPL’s head bubblerarian (and a 2015 Mover & Shaker), credits Millerjohn with having the ability to seea partnership from all perspectives—from the joyful discovery of child participants, to the intentional purpose of the educator and librarian, to the administrator’s need for fiscal accountability and brand adherence. "Her project management skills balance
the ‘dream big’ vision required to plan new projects with attention to details," Miller says.

Millerjohn doesn’t want Maker spaces to be just a fad. Because the impact of Maker programs often gets lost, a lot of the work she does focuses on how to evaluate and assess what’s happening during these programs and then develop frameworks to communicate those outcomes to the public.

“I believe in the work we do,” Millerjohn says, “and the only way we can keep the momentum going is by proving that we’re successful.”

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