Last week I made the trip to Sudbury to spend the day with Rainbow DSB and their Learning Connections team. Their project this year is focussed on using robotics to support the mathematical processes in the intermediate classroom. There are 9 teachers (grades 6-8) from 3 different schools who are involved in the project along with Dave, a secondary teacher in RDSB, who will be facilitating the training and provide support. Each school received 9 Lego EV3s through CODE funding. The inquiry question for RDSB is:
How can the use of robotics kits support mathematical processes through open ended problem solving learning opportunities?
This was the first time the group came together with a plan to meet two more times. The day was very relaxed with the best agenda: introductions and project description, getting started with LEGO Mindstorms, break, more lego, lunch, even more lego, break, so much more lego! To be honest, I don’t think I even noticed the breaks as the group was so engaged in learning how to code and make the robots move as intended in the programs created.
During the introduction, Dave passed around a usb stick so everyone could load the Mindstorm program and the EV3 firmware update on their computer to be ready to code and update the bricks (brains of the robots) later in the day. Very efficient!
When the teachers were asked where they are in using robotics or how they plan to use robotics and coding, their responses were varied, but most didn’t have experience and were ready to start:
- their school just received some money to create a maker space and they want to include robotics
- similarly with another teacher who is getting started with a maker space
- a couple knew nothing about coding or robotics and want to learn to bring it into their classroom
- one school has done Hour of Code for a couple of years, but now want to delve deeper into coding/robotics
Michele then shared the goals of their LC project and had the group start thinking about the Mathematical Processes Expectations. Throughout the day, teachers were asked to think about how coding and robotics link to the curriculum and the mathematical processes. It was also clearly articulated what students and teachers will KNOW and DO during the project.
- Develop, select, apply and compare a variety of strategies to solve problems
- Communicate mathematical thinking orally, visually, and in writing
- Reflect and monitor their thinking
Teachers will KNOW and DO:
- Share explicit instructional strategies for mathematical process skills
- Co-construction of success criteria for process skills used in coding and robotics
- Transferability of skills
- Sharing in PLC
- Brian Aspinall OTF webinar
- Video: “Why our kids must learn to code?“
- Building instructions for Riley Rover
Now for the fun – grab your box and open. It took the group a while to unpack and organize their boxes and Dave gave some advice on how to organize. Then it was time: build Riley Rover! Yes, I got to build one as well and learn how to program him. Loved it 🙂
After everyone had their Riley built, it was challenge time. We had two challenges: have Riley start at a certain location and move around a box on the floor; then teachers were to build their own maze for Riley to move through. Dave was great at providing the right balance of group instruction and individual assistance. He made it very easy to go straight to the Mindstorm program and start coding for Riley. He also gave classroom advice on how to deal with the Lego in the classroom, how students approached similar challenges and ideas for challenges. As well, he provided the group with resources for other robot builds.
This was an awesome day and I really feel that the teachers have a great start to learning about coding and using robotics. Since some of the teachers have never done coding, it was very important to get them comfortable using the coding program and assembling a robot. At the end of the day, they may not been ready to bring the robots into their class after leaving the session, but they were certainly ready for next steps. The group plans to meet mid April again where they will learn more about coding the EV3s and how they can integrate them into their classrooms by aligning activities with the mathematical processes. It will be interesting to see how they have progressed between the two meetings. They also all connected in a Google Community to share their learning and resources.
This was such an awesome day – thanks Michele and Heather for including me in your learning! I think this is the first time that my fun pic is related to the day of learning and not something that happened during my travels. This is a pic of my part way built Riley.