Teacher rock star Noelle McDaniel on the Maker Movement

By Michelle Carlson 12 months ago3 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Noelle for a podcast offering her insight on the Maker Movement and how it’s transforming learning experiences for kids.  The guidance and perspective she offered was really great, and I thought it would be fun to make it available in multiple formats for our readers.  Noelle is one of those teachers you learn from every time you talk to her.  She works hard, cares deeply about kids and is a true learner who happily shares what she knows with others.  

For those of you out there in the classroom, or in leadership positions in schools, Noelle is someone you will want to check out.  You can find her on Twitter (@NMcCammond21) and she also maintains a website here.


Me: Give us a little background about you and what you believe

Noelle: I have taught for 11 years from grades K-12.  This past year I was the curriculum support provider for Corning Elementary School District. It was a great time to explore the exciting world of edtech and making.  I also got to watch and support our Makerspace at Maywood MIddle School.

I believe that today’s students are very different. They live and interact in a different world that is constantly changing.  Unfortunately, I see many teachers NOT changing. This doesn’t work and is not going to allow for anyone to be successful.  We have changed our tests, expectations, curriculum…. But what about the delivery??

For things to be different, everything needs to be different.  EVERYTHING

Me: How does maker education address the challenges we are facing in today’s schools with preparing kids for their future?

Noelle: I really believe that students need to be learning 21st century skills. I know that is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but teachers need to focus on communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. What I noticed this year in supporting a makerspace is that those four things are constantly happening. They really are the focus of every project.

In addition to these 21st century skills, makerspace also teaches students some other really important life skills. Things like grit, resilience, optimism, self-regulation, empathy and reflection happen everyday.  These are what employers are looking for.  These are the things that make people successful.

Me: What was the biggest “aha” moment for you this year in the makerspace?

Noelle: I think the biggest “aha” moment for me was in the first weeks of makerspace.  We asked the students to think of something that they were interested in for their first project.  The room was silent. 90% of the kids could not tell us about a hobby, interest or something that they wanted to learn more about. It was pretty shocking.

So we had to baby step the projects.  We started small, gave them choices and worked with them to a point where they could take ownership of their learning and truly create their own experiences.  

I think that was my other “aha” moment.  The second or third project where there were 5-10 different groups working on different things, the room was buzzing, everyone was happy, engaged and definitely working.  It was a beautiful thing.  I will tell people that if you are doing a great job teaching makerspace, it should be easy.  You should be checking in, floating around the room, enjoying the magic.

Me: What are you excited about doing with all of this for next year?

Noelle: WOW! Where do I start?  I am excited to help launch a new makerspace at DaVinci next year.  I’m excited to be a makerpace teacher! I think what I want is to be someone else’s “aha” moment.  I want other teachers to be able to see how doing things differently WILL create an environment for our students to become successful.

I read a quote recently that said “The point of going 1:1 is not to be paperless, it’s to change the task.” That really resonated with me.  I am planning on going paperless next year, but I started with the idea of changing everything.  

Me: What was the most important thing the district leadership has done to support your work in maker education?

Noelle: I have been lucky to have had an administrator who understands the need for change and supports doing things differently.  I think that’s the biggest thing.

I have also been provided with great opportunities for trainings.  I am lucky to have been able to go to some great PD.

Me: What’s the most important thing you can offer to other teachers who are going into something like this?

Noelle: I think the thing that I tell teachers the most is, this didn’t magically happen overnight for me.  I spent a lot of time getting to where I am.  It also became a passion for me.  I truly believe in the makerspace and edtech movement happening in education right now.

Spend the time, get some great PD and if you can find a great mentor or partner to work with that is huge.  If you don’t have an outside consultant or a Tech Coach at your site, start your own support program.  Meet and talk about what you are doing in your classroom.

SHARE! Another great quote I read (which I can’t remember word for word) is “Awesome teachers share their awesome.  They don’t keep it contained in their rooms.”

Be the change you want to see.  

Me: What other support was crucial in making this happen for you and your kids?

Noelle: Amazing support from Michelle Carlson.  The whole way. I was very fortunate in the fact that she was someone that my admin consulted with and listened to.  She is an amazing person. (I did not coerce her to say this, hee hee!)


Noelle is collaborating with us on our book, 180 Days of Making, which is set to be released early August.  If you’d like to be notified of book updates, take 30 seconds and fill out our Google form here.

We’ll be offering the insight from more teachers on our blog in the coming months, so stay tuned, stay inspired, and stay awesome out there!  You are loved and appreciated for what you do for kids!

  EducationEducation reformLeadershipMaking
this post was shared 0 times


  • Kathy Curtiss says:

    Noelle’s discoveries, as she evolves as a Maker Space Teacher are powerful…especially the first one when the kids had nothing to say when asked about a hobby or something they wanted to learn. It’s sad that a large percentage of our students in any given classroom have turned off their own unique capacities when they come to school. Generational poverty certainly is an issue too, when students don’t dare to dream…as it just leads to disappointment and pain. Finding ways, like maker spaces, that open up their minds to these possibilities, is huge! Let’s all work hard to Be The Change….!

    • Michelle Carlson says:

      Thank you Kathy! Your comments struck a cord with both of us yesterday. It’s so true, students do turn off their unique selves and don’t dare to dream in too many places. It’s wonderful to have support from folks like you who understand these challenges and support efforts that address them such as the maker movement!

      Thank you for being you! 🙂

  • Dave Sweringen says:

    Noelle is certainly a Rock Star Teacher! We are so excited to have her as part of our DaVinci Academy STEM experience for 6th graders this year at Corning Elementary. Noelle is always providing me with “aha” moments!
    Thanks Noellel and Michelle!
    Dave Sweringen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.