Archive for the ‘Classroom’ tag
Getting your classroom organized for the beginning of the school year is an arduous task for even the most experienced teacher. It can be even more demanding for those that teach robotics. You’ve got the robot kits, you’ve been trained in ROBOTC, but how do you set up your class for the first day of school? The goal of this article is to help answer the question for both new robotic teachers and teachers that have been teaching robotics for years.
As we all know, a robotics kit is more expensive than a textbook. Moreover, because robotics kits contain so many small pieces, they can be much more difficult to take care of than a textbook. As a result, keeping your kits organized is crucial. If using a Lego Mindstorms or Tetrix robot, one way that I have found that can be very helpful is to name the NXT brick. Then, give the same name to the kit. Now, assign the kit to the group of students in your class. If the students know that they are responsible for that kit, it goes a long way towards them acting more responsibly with the kit. If using a VEX robot, you won’t have the same ability to name your brick, but you can still able to label your robotics kit.
Which students are assigned to work together is also something that the teacher must put some thought into. Once again, maintaining the kits is of the utmost importance. Therefore, I am not going to allow students to work together if I feel that will not take care of the kit. Some students are more organized and careful with the kits than others. I always try to have one of those students in a group. I try to have the kits named and assigned before the first day of school. If I don’t know the students, then I may have to adjust the groups as we progress throughout the beginning of the school year.
Once the kits are organized, the teacher can then start to think about how their curriculum items are going to be accessed and utilized. A math teacher has a plan for when their students have a question about a topic, or when a student is confused about a particular concept. A robotics teacher has to have the same type of plan in mind. The beauty of teaching robotics lies in the fact that students are intrinsically motivated to find answers to their problems because they are highly engaged. Some students will still be conditioned, however, to try to elicit the answer from the teacher instead of reasoning through a problem on their own. Robotics teachers need to create a plan so the students can work towards being independent and productive problem solvers.
To that end, a good approach to a complex challenge is to examine what needs to be done before the challenge, during the challenge, and after the challenge is complete. Before the challenge, students should be focusing on create flowcharts to organize their program and writing pseudocode to reflect those flowcharts. During the challenge, students should focus on commenting their code and debugging techniques. Afterwards, students should be afforded the opportunity to reflect and respond to what went well, what went not so well, and what they learned throughout the process.
Giving students a little bit of structure while they engage a challenging task will go a long way towards ensuring that the students’ high level of engagement does not turn into a high level of frustration. Engagement works both ways in that sense: High engagement leads to students that are focused on their task, but can also lead to high levels of frustration because the students desperately want to finish that task. To avoid the frustration,teachers should provide a structure that the students can rely on when needed. Before the school year begins, teachers should spend some time planning students’ work, and then the students can spend time during school working their plan.
The beginning of the school year is always a challenge. As teachers, we understand that unforeseen difficulties will always arise. However, going into the school year with as much planned and organized as possible helps us to focus on those unpredictable events that will undoubtedly occur.
Check out how we organize robot parts at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy:
It is that time of year again … backpacks on our backs, buses on the streets, and lessons being planned. Yes, we are going back to school! To kick start the school year, we are introducing a six week robotics back to school blog series that highlights the technical and pedagogical side of planning for your robotics classroom. John Watson, from ROBOTC customer support, and Jason McKenna, a K-8 Gifted Support Teacher in the Hopewell Area School District outside of Pittsburgh, PA, will be sharing with you tips, tricks, advice, and recommendations on prepping your robotics classroom and curriculum.
As each blog is posted, the topics below will turn into hyperlinks, so feel free to bookmark this page!
If you have any questions or would like to start a conversation on any of the topics, feel free to leave us a comment below!
We’ve featured a couple of ROBOTC students the last few weeks, but this week we showcase a teacher who uses ROBOTC and Robot Virtual Worlds in the classroom. Check out Jeff Maxwell’s interview on why and how he uses Robot Virtual Worlds with his students …
We continue the new section to our blog called Teacher’s POV (Point of View) with another post by Jason McKenna, a K-8 Gifted Support Teacher in the Hopewell Area School District outside of Pittsburgh, PA. He took the time to give some examples of how you can use Robot Virtual Worlds in your classroom.
Robot Virtual Worlds is a powerful tool to teach ROBOTC to students. The unofficial motto for Robot Virtual Worlds is “No Robot, no problem.” That is absolutely true. If you are just starting a robotics program, or if your budget just can’t handle the cost of physical robots, Robot Virtual Worlds is a powerful tool for teachers.
However, the use of Robot Virtual Worlds is not just limited to replacing physical robots. Even if you have dozens of physical robots at your disposal, Robot Virtual Worlds can still be a powerful addition to your curriculum. Here are some examples:
- Differentiating Instruction. One of the hardest things for a teacher to do is to teach to where each individual student currently is in the curriculum. Robot Virtual Worlds allows teachers to do this. Let’s say you have a student that is struggling to learn some of the beginning ROBOTC concepts and another that is breezing through the curriculum. With Robot Virtual Worlds, you can easily create a challenge for each student. Creating a challenge for a student is easy. A new challenge can always be created in the Robot Virtual World Level Builder. Additionally, if students are working in Palm Island or Operation Reset, one student can program their robot to make turns while using timing, and the student that is progressing faster can be shown how to use the Gyro Sensor. In this manner, a teacher can differentiate instruction within the SAME lesson. That is the goal for all educators, and it can be achieved easily with Robot Virtual Worlds. To use another example, let’s say a student quickly solves a basic movement challenge (ex. Robot Slalom) with a physical robot. Instead of having to wait for the rest of the class to finish, that student can use the Curriculum Companion Pack to solve the same challenge virtually. Only now, the student can use encoder values to move precise distances, instead of just timing.
- Teaching to Mastery. Because Robot Virtual Worlds allows you to teach programming concepts faster (Physical vs Virtual Programming Fall 2012 Study Results), it also affords teachers the opportunity to present more repeated practice to the students. Missions in both Operation Reset and Palm Island reinforce all of the fundamentals of programming that are found in the ROBOTC Curriculum. For instance, if a student has just learned how to line follow with their physical robot, they can then complete missions in both Operation Reset and Palm Island that also require line following.
- Introduction to New Students. As teachers, our days are filled with the unexpected. One of the most challenging surprises is when you are told that you will have a new student in class because the student just moved to your district. Your class is 3 or 4 months into the ROBOTC curriculum, and your new student has no experience with ROBOTC at all. Here is where the Robot Virtual Worlds came be a lifesaver. Instead of having the student jump into whatever challenge the students are doing with physical robots, the student can watch the lessons from the ROBOTC Curriculum and complete the challenges in the Curriculum Companion Pack. After the student has begun to learn some of basics of ROBOTC, he/she can be introduced to the challenge that the rest of class is working on.
- Beginning of the School Year. When students return from summer break, some will have retained all or most of what was taught to them the previous year. Others will have retained far less. With this example, Robot Virtual Worlds can be used as a pre-assessment that can then be used to help direct that teacher’s instruction. For example, a teacher can create a challenge in the Robot Virtual World Level Builder that asks the students to utilize different programming concepts. By doing this, a teacher can see what skills need to be reviewed and what skills the students have retained. This is a tremendous time-saver. Most teachers work under the assumption that they had better review everything before moving on to a new concept. Using a pre-assessment eliminates this need. Robot Virtual Worlds are a perfect fit for this pre-assessment.
- Robot Virtual Worlds Levels Builder. This is a great tool for, once again, those unexpected occurrences in the classroom. Let’s say you you’ve been pulled into a meeting without a previous notice. A substitute has been sent to your class for coverage. You’re a little hesitant to let the students practice with the physical robots because the students are just beginning and the sub will not be able to answer any of their questions. You don’t have time to introduce a challenge in one of the Virtual Worlds; therefore, you quickly tell the students to open the Levels Builder and tell them to create challenges for each other. The students are now engaged and busy, and you can proceed to your meeting.
Those are 5 quick ways that Robot Virtual Worlds can be a big help for any teacher, not matter how many physical robot a teacher may or may not have. Robot Virtual Worlds are not just a replacement for physical robots, they are a tremendous asset in and of themselves.
Unsure what Robot Virtual Worlds is? Check out this video …
Thank you, Jason! If you are a teacher who would like to share your experiences on our blog, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teacher Appreciation Week is May 6th – 10th and we are celebrating! We LOVE all teachers and appreciate everything they do for their students! Here at the Robotics Academy, we have a special place in our hearts for robotics teachers, mentors and coaches, so this year we want to make sure they get the attention they deserve.
Do you know an amazing robotics teacher, mentor, or coach? Let us know who they are and why they are AWESOME! Send us your best story, pictures, and/or video about this person to email@example.com. We will share several of these stories on the CMU’s Robotics Academy blog during Teacher Appreciation Week. And the Top Three Stories, voted by us, will each WIN one Classroom Annual License for Robot Virtual Worlds for their teacher/mentor/coach!
Stories must be submitted by Wednesday, May 8th at 5pm Eastern Standard Time. We will announce the winners on Friday, May 10, 2013.
Please include contact information (name and email/school phone number) for the teacher, mentor, or coach that you’re writing about so we can make sure to get their permission to publish their name on our site. You can send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Robot Virtual Worlds team has been developing a multiplayer game mode, and our group was lucky enough to get a sneak peak last week (and I made sure to record the event for you!)
Check out the video from the preview:
It will work with ROBOTC, have CS2N connectivity for achievements, private rooms so only the people you invite will be allowed in, structured chat rooms, and a lot more!! Look for it to be released at the end of the summer.
What do you think? What features would you like to see included in it?
We are extremely excited to announce our new teacher certification courses! A “Robotics Academy Certified Instructor” is officially certified by Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy. The certification will provide an official and public recognition of your competencies and capabilities to teach, program, and troubleshoot educational robots. Check out our most recent video that gives you some more details …
Contact email@example.com to learn more!
- What is the certification?
- The certification is proof from a robotics education world leader that you know how to program and troubleshoot robots.
- Does this course offer college credit?
- The course offers continuing education credit and documents that you have participated in 36 hours worth of instruction at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy. It is not a college credit course.
- What happens if I don’t pass the certification test?
- The certification test is offered after you complete the course. If you don’t pass the certification test, you will have the opportunity to retake the exam one month later.
- Can I use Robot Virtual Worlds in my classroom?
- How do I register for the course?
- Go to Professional Development Robotics Academy Classes 2013 and follow the instructions.
- Does the Robotics Academy take Purchase Orders?
- When should I register?
- As soon as possible. The courses are limited to 24 students per class and will fill up quickly.
- When are courses offered?
- You can find a list of all classes available here – Professional Development Robotics Academy Classes 2013
All ROBOTC related training is listed below: