FABClassroom Spotlight: Kim Slayton, Burnham Brook School

Meet Kim Slayton from the Burnham Brook School in Canterbury, New Hampshire. Not long ago, the school added Fab@School Maker Studio, a digital design and fabrication program, to their school curriculum. Kim and her students have been using the web-based program in art, science, and social studies projects. We asked Kim to share more about how her students were using the tool and how they plan on taking the program to the next step.


As a teacher, you truly encourage your students to Create Bravely. What tips can you share on encouraging creativity in the classroom?

An important tip to encourage creativity is not to panic. If something doesn’t work out the way it is supposed to, don’t be afraid to try again or find another way to solve the problem. Where there's a will there’s a way to work around any problem. It is also important to have a backup plan, in case your original idea doesn’t come out as you hoped it would. Finally, taking notes on what did and didn’t work helps gives the learner a general sense on how to solve the problem in the future.

How are you using Fab@School Maker Studio in the classroom?

We use Fab@School Maker Studio in art class for making sculptures, as well as creating boxes to store small art projects. The program is especially helpful in demonstrating concepts in science and social studies. To top it off, I also make paper masks for my dyslexic students, as well as other teachers for their students.

What has been an “aha” moment using Fab@School Maker Studio?

I have a student who, due to birth complications, has only four fingers on one hand. This makes it especially difficult for her to use scissors. She was so excited and amazed when she came across the Fab@School Maker Studio program. She was able to plan and create a very complex paper art project without difficulty [and cut it out with the digital cutter]. It was a great “aha” experience when she finally saw her concept come to life.

You work with learners of all ages and abilities. How have you used Fab@School Maker Studio with every student?

Some of my students have been using Fab@School Maker Studio on their own computers, while others explained what they wanted and I designed it on my computer. Typically, the students sketch out their desired finished product, and then we work together to figure out how to properly place the nets. My students and I have also used some of the 3D Ready-Made projects, such as the castle and automaton, for writing prompts and story mapping.

What is next? Any cool projects in the works!?

The student who has difficulties using scissors really likes horses, so we will be working on building an automaton with galloping horses instead.

Can you tell us a bit about your school?

Burnham Brook is a small private school founded in 1982 by Barbara and Walter Howell. All teachers use multisensory structured language instructions to teach their students. Each student is provided with an experience and then we attach a specific language to that experience. This allows them to take ownership for their learning, as well as develop a deeper foundational understanding of the concepts.

Instead of dividing the students into grades, they are instead grouped together based on their ability and language processing styles. The school consists of students with average, above average, and gifted intelligence. Some students have been identified as having a learning disability, while some have no learning difficulties but weren’t being challenged in their local public schools. All of the same types of classes meet at the same exact time, so if we need to change a student’s group, it would not disrupt his or her overall school schedule.