One of the Eight Core Tools Jeffco EdTech is supporting this year is Soundtrap, a robust yet simple-to-use audio recording and editing app for grades 3-5. This post will explore why podcasting is a great project to pursue with your students, regardless of content area, and how to get started with your first project! We’ll also check in with a couple teachers in Jeffco already using podcasting to great effect in their own classrooms.
Podcasts have exploded in popularity over the past few years. Everyone from media conglomerates to best-selling authors to stand up comedians to news outlets have found a new voice through podcasting. Interested in History? There are podcasts for that! True crime? News? Music? Trivia? There are podcasts for all that too! Simply put: a podcast is an audio file covering a given topic. More established podcasts are published on a regular schedule such as weekly, monthly, etc. But often, podcasts are created and published as a stand-alone/one-time event.
“What do I need in order to get started?” - Less than you think! Most podcasts can be made with only a quiet space and a Chromebook. A good-quality microphone and some headphones are nice additions, but not necessary.
“How many people do I need to create a podcast?” - It is absolutely possible to have students create individual podcasts, however, the workflow and format of a podcast lends itself to a small group as well. NPR has a great “Getting Started with Podcasts” page that describes some of the roles students may play in podcasting. Keep in mind you can combine these or assign more than one person to the same role, depending on your assignment or class format.
Helpful hint: Being mindful in how you assign students to roles (perhaps your producer is also your editor on a project) may save you some headaches around classroom management down the line! For instance, some roles might be busier during the beginning of the project. How can the editor be helpful during that point in the workflow? Can they assist in research?
“OK, what do we talk about?” - Anything that is genuine to your content area! In math class, it may revolve around how students solved a difficult problem. In Science, perhaps it’s a debrief of an experiment they recently completed. In English, maybe it’s an opportunity to practice storytelling or creating a skit.
NPR offers a variety of prompts for podcast topics that can work in different content areas…
But how does it connect to content?
ALL of the Jeffco Generations Skills can be grown and practiced with a student-created podcasting project!
Podcasting in action
There are a number of teachers in Jeffco already working with students to create podcasts about the world around them. Here are a couple teachers making podcasts work for their content!
Andrea Pless at Kyffin Elementary has successfully integrated podcasting into a few different standards-aligned projects over the past two years.
Her students practiced reading fluency by creating short podcasts for younger students at Kyffin, reading picture books and creating their own turn-the-page tone. Students in other classrooms can then read along with their own book at a later time. Talk about a 21st Century book buddy system!
A group project she’s used involves students reading short stories (before creating the podcast) and using the podcast to discuss their personal connections to the stories. She houses all these student achievements on her website, The Plessroom. On her website, you’ll also find notecatchers and rubrics she’s used with her students.
In addition, each year, Ms. Pless works with a small group of students to serve as her website and Soundtrap experts. They support other students in their learning and teach their classmates about the features and uses of Soundtrap.
When asked about her biggest piece of advice for teachers who are thinking about diving in, she says “Go for it!” She explains most students are more native to technology in some form or another and besides the Soundtrap Intro video (linked below) and some basics of where to find which capabilities, students are quick to latch on to the workings of Soundtrap, as long as they have a product they are working toward. Don’t worry that you need all the answers!
John Swartz at Moore Middle School regularly publishes a Podcast with his 6th graders. This podcast is entering its second year and discusses upcoming community events and features interviews with teachers, students and other community members from the Pomona articulation area.
Here's a link to the Pomona Area Podcast page! Happy listening!
There are countless resources available for teachers to get their students started. As Soundtrap is the supported audio recording app for Jeffco, here are a couple links to get you going!
Soundtrap Crash Course
Soundtrap Lesson Plans
Other websites and resources...
NPR’s A Guide for Students (Getting Started with Podcasting)
Lesson plan to create a podcast from Rosen Digital
Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Products
Summer Reading UPdate & New Resources...
Did you know…that Jefferson County is comprised of 773 square miles (or 494,588 acres) and has approximately 580,000 residents across the county?
With such a large county we have some amazing resources that are available to all of our residents and in our case, all of our students and staff. Jefferson County Public Library and Jeffco Schools have historically had a supportive partnership, over the last few years this parternship has grown dynamically and continues today. The collaboration supports a variety of experiences, from the Summer Reading program to the Jeffco/JCPL newsletter that supports our DTLs and teachers to STEM Clubs (and upcoming MS EPIC STEM program) as well as Speed Dating with a Book and other literacy based ventures in schools.
Our Jeffco Squared team (comprised of Jeffco’s Library Services Coordinator & a mix of JCPL teams) meet monthly to collaborate and find more ways to bridge our work in order to support our community. Beyond the summer reading challenge, one of the other topics we discuss on a regular basis is the collection online tools and databases that are available for use. Listed below is the 2019 Summer Reading Challenge update along with a small selection of tools available through JCPL.
Summer Reading Contest
The JCPL Summer Reading Contest concluded in August and now the results are in! Each of the following schools will be receiving a trophy and each of their libraries will be receiving a check for $800. To read more about the contest and to see where other schools ranked, visit the JCPL website.
The resources mentioned below are all available through JCPL, and can be accessed with a JCPL library card. These tools have been vetted by the district and approved for use. However, they are not district supported - meaning that staff need to contact the vendor or JCPL to work through potential issues, as Jeffco IT does not manage the technical side of these tools. Kanopy has been vetted by Jeffco, however the platform is best used by teachers, as it is not filtered and contains adult content.
Mango Languages describes themselves as, “the only single solution that combines quality content, intelligent technology, and an adaptive algorithm that delivers practical phrases from real situations”. Just recently, Mango Languages increased the total number of languages they support to 71 different & unique languages!
They offer engaging interactive lessons in everything from the most common languages studied, such as Spanish, English, French, and Chinese to unique languages such as Bengali, Dutch and even Pirate! Participants can easily access Mango by visiting the JCPL site and entering their library card number. There is no need to create an account, as users can particpate by selecting guest user at the Mango login screen.
CreativeBug is a new addition to JCPLs collection of resources this year. It has been vetted by Jeffco and is an approved resource that like Mango Languages, is not district supported. Creativebug does offer online video arts and crafts workshops and techniques. Particpants can learn how to paint, knit, crochet, sew, screen print, and more. Their topics range from Art and Design to Furniture Refinishing to Cake decorating and Canning.
Some ideas for curriculum connections with CreativeBug, include using the videos as
Kanopy (Teacher REsource)
An additional resource that is great for teachers is Kanopy. Kanopy is a tool similar to that of YouTube, in that it offers a wide variety of videos. In Kanopy Kids, they offer popular book titles as videos including documentaries, Global Studies, Education, Instructional Films and Lessons. Kanopy also offers an elementary based collection for preschool and up. Kanopy Kids categories include Learning Languages, Animated Storybooks and Classic Films. The Animated Storybooks category in Kanopy Kids is a great resource for our elementary teachers, when connecting literacy to learning.
These are just a few of the many tools JCPL offers their patrons. If you have questions about the resources and databases available please connect with your schools' Digital Teacher Librarian to find out what resources might support your next unit.
Curious about using robotics with your students? Robotics are a tangible way to introduce students to computer science while providing learning experiences that foster creativity, problem-solving, and perseverance. Beyond the fact that robots are fun and highly engaging for students, the depth of learning and the application of Jeffco Generation Skills that are possible when using them in instruction provides for transferable opportunities for students.
“When students program physical robots, it’s easier for them to see what goes wrong as they learn what robots can and cannot do. They learn the skills needed to create precise and accurate instructions and have fun while learning valuable lessons. Teaching robotics in schools gives students the opportunity to address the growing demand of teaching STEM subjects while learning how science, engineering, math, and technology work together and interact.”
- Matthew Lynch, "Five Reasons to Teach Robotics in Schools", The Edvocate
Jeffco Ed Tech has the following robotics available for teachers to borrow for 3-week checkout periods. To check availablity and access the check out form, click on the Ed Tech Robotics website. All kits are picked up and returned through Jeffcat at 809 Quail.
The Dash robot can be programmed to respond to voice, record voice, and navigate objects. The challenge cards are aligned by grade level to the Code.org curriculum. There a 6 different apps that students can progress through while learning to code. With Wonder software, kids can also program the robot to do multiple tasks in parallel. Blockly introduces fundamental and advanced coding concepts through playful projects and puzzles. Kids learn about coding by exploring variables, events, conditionals, and more.
An ozobot identifies lines, colors, and codes on paper or digital surfaces. Bots can be coded online using OzoBlockly or on paper using markers. The bots will trace the path and react based on the colored patterns--changing speed, direction, timing, and even performing "cool moves".
The Bee-Bot is an easy to learn entry point into coding for young learners. These can be used for teaching directionality, counting, sequencing, estimation, and problem-solving. Students can code Bee-Bot to remember up to 40 instructions/steps at a time.
Learning to code, coding to learn...
Robots can be used to create learning experiences using design thinking, collaboration, and inquiry. Students can create models to demonstrate abstract and complex thinking, solve problems using data, and learn from the iterative process.
“This opportunity helps students develop a respect for their own abilities. As students develop strategies to facilitate the learning process, they experienced growth in their meta-cognitive skills, too. Introduction to coding and robotics is as relevant to our world as learning to write. Today’s learner should experience opportunities to practice coding and robotics in the classroom from an early age. This foundation will serve them as learners, digital citizens and world leaders,”
- Julie Dweck, How Robotics is Transforming STEM in Elementary Schools
To check availablity and access the check out form, click on the Ed Tech Robotics website. All kits are picked up and returned through Jeffcat at 809 Quail.
When I was asked to write a post for Jeffco Ed Tech blog, I was stymied. Education technology is a huge topic. It’s complicated, demonized, canonized, hotly debated, and full of strife & potential. Finally, after six or seven digital wads of paper, I’ve settled on discussing how I rolled out 1:web Chromebooks for my freshman classes this year. It’s timely, and I hope it proves helpful.
First of all, mad props to Pomona’s administration and our campus IT staff. It all starts there. Without a clear and shared vision of what technology will look like and a commitment to goals we set out to achieve by using it, the results would be confusing to everyone involved. Our tech gurus, Matt Daniels and Judy Sims, have been great at keeping our campus focused and practical about everything from how to track each device to which apps make the most sense for teachers to use. They are absolutely central to the success of the roll-out of over 700 (!) Chromebooks (and chargers and cords and screen protectors and id tags and Velcro strips and screen cleaner cloths and styluses and...et al) for our 9th & 10th grade Panthers. I shudder to think how absolutely chaotic this initiative could have turned out, and I’m so appreciative of their strong leadership from the beginning.
So that’s the Big Picture. As for incorporating this technology into our daily classroom environment, I am still a novice. I still ask the Annoying Question of the Day to Matt and Judy and have impractical requests that are met with “You really don’t want to do that, Clint”. “Why not?” And then he patiently explains the Why Not. I’m moving in the right direction, though, and zealously embracing the feel-good-It’s-OK cliche of our times: failing forward. A LOT. My students laugh at me when my “app-tempts” explode. We all laugh together, though, because I’ve found that true humility and vulnerability sometimes creates powerful community. It’s better than the option of playing the immutable sage on the stage, a role that would last, at most, a few measly seconds, and quickly scuttle any vestige of ethos I do have. They teach me more than I could ever figure out myself, and at 1/10 of the time, and they feel powerful when they teach the teacher. I like that. Empowering kids is fun. It’s a rush. Often, when you give That One Troublemaker a Chromebook and a purpose, they are transformed...just like the task they’re working on.
One last thing. At the end of the year, Nick Steinmetz, who I’m sure you know or, if you don’t, you should, challenged us to write a letter about how it went--the inaugural mass Chromebooking. I did that, then ended up writing an alternate version addressed to this year’s students. The letter is friendly yet informative, and includes memes, hyperlinks, footnotes, and other elements that they will run into on digital platforms. Joining our Google Classroom and reading and responding to that letter was their first assignment of the year. Once they join the Classroom, they also have access to the GDoc that I use everyday in class. Even if they’re absent, they get a good idea of what went on during their absence. Here’s a screenshot of (a portion of) that document:
Regarding technology, it’s going well. The kids are excited and potentially a bit intimidated. They see the potential inherent in the system. Even if they are not used to seeing it that way, they recognize their tech as a catalyst to learning and maybe even prosperity. The responsibility they have with that makes them feel like an adult.
Twenty-six years ago, when I first started teaching, “technology” meant the new-fangled electric pencil sharpener that was bolted to a desk. It’s safe to say a few things have changed since then. Heck, we don’t even really need pencil sharpeners. But I still have one. My students still use it. If you need it, it’s right over there by the door, next to the Chromebook cart and the Cell Hotel phone holder.
Happy teaching, everyone!
Teacher, Pomona High School
Bridge to Curriculum has some NEW dynamic changes, based on teacher feedback, that have been added to enhance the teaching and learning cycle.
NEW!!! Professional LEARNING Library in the Bridge to Curriculum!
We are so excited to announce a brand new module in the Bridge to Curriculum. The Professional Learning Library has over 500 just-in-time learning opportunities. You can find articles, videos of Jeffco teachers, and even face-to-face and virtual professional learning opportunities throughout the district. You will find all of your professional learning needs and wants located here in the Bridge to Curriculum. Anyone can contribute to the Professional Learning Library. Just use the "Create a Professional Learning Button" from the Professional Learning Library page.
REARRANGING UNits of Study
Horizontal Movement of Year at a Glance (YAAGs): You now have the ability to move your Units of Study horizontally. After you have loaded all of your YAAGs, go to the home page and use the arrows to move units.
Please consider the following when reordering of Units of Study:
Vertical Movement of YAAGs
Vertical movement of YAAGs: You now have the ability to drag and drop your YAAGs vertically. This allows teachers to customize YAAGs to better align with how they plan. Some users might want the units of study to follow the students’ daily schedule while others appreciate grouping like contents. After you have loaded all of your YAAGs, go to the home page and use the arrows to move units.
Evidence Outcome Map
This map can help examine how often Desired Results appear in each unit over the entire year. You can examine individual units in order to verify and streamline Evidence Outcomes and Desired Results. This map will support planning on the unit level exponentially.
You can drill down to see Knows, Understands, Dos and Essential Questions that are attached to this Evidence Outcome within this Unit of Study
Link to The Digital Tools Website
We have added a link to the Digital Tools Website! You can now access this database straight from the Bridge to Curriculum!
Fall Camp 1:1
On August 9th, Jeffco's Ed Tech Department hosted a fall version of Camp 1:1! This day of learning centered around transforming the student experience using Jeffco's new Core Digital Tools and devices. We had rooms full of educators, eager to learn how to use technology to empower and engage their students in learning.
Due to the overwhelming success of this event, we want to make sure that all educators have access to the learning. Attached is the schedule with the course descriptions and linked presentations!
A huge thank you goes out to Arvada West High School for hosting our day of learning. We are very thankful to all of the schools who partner with us throughout the year to help us deliver learning to so many educators!
This year we are excited to share that we have 4 new members joining our Ed Tech team!
A new year also comes with some exciting new transitions for our amazing teammates.
Lisa will be filling the role of IT Liaison, following Diane's retirement. She will be supporting Jeffco's digital tools, Edgenuity, and a variety of other duties!
Amie will move from an elementary support role to a role supporting technology integration across all curriculum and instructional areas.
Rounding out the Ed Tech team are continuing team members:
This post is brought to us by Abby Smith, a Math teacher at Pomona High School. Abby has been working with her students and technology integration this year to Transform Student Tasks. Abby shares here an incredible example of how she is working to make learning relevant for students as she seeks to provide them expanded opportunities to develop the Jeffco Generations skills through math and technology. We are grateful to Abby for sharing her expertise and learning as she seeks to make learning with digital tools purposeful for her students.
“When are we ever going to use this?” As a high school math teacher, I despise this question. Let me rephrase, I used to despise this question. Now I see it as a challenge. Students are living in a different world than most of us in the education profession experienced as high school students. These kiddos have a powerful device within reach most moments of the day that can answer questions with a quick Google search. Today's students do not see the value in having information readily stored in the back of their brain because it is stored in their phone. As an educator, I have seen it as my role to help students realize how the information we cover in the classroom can help them make decisions instead of answer questions. This is how my accommodated algebra classroom transformed into a medieval war zone during our unit on graphing parabolas.
Let’s rewind to my first few years in the classroom. My students completed worksheets, occasionally used tools like Plickers or Desmos, and then completed a test. We did fine on standardized assessments, yet every year, students are retaught some of the same material from years before and the lower students act like they’ve never seen the stuff before. I began asking a similar question as my kids were asking: Why am I teaching this material? I became unmotivated to continue the fight to convince struggling kids that the material was important when I didn’t believe in it’s value for my students who struggled the most.
To aid in the transition with 1:1 devices as a new pilot program at Pomona High School, I was apart of a cohort lead by EdTech Specialist Nick Steinmetz. Nick challenged the members of the group to take risks and learn with their students. We were charged with Transforming the Task in our classroom in new ways that were not available before the chromebooks were assigned to our students. I decided to transform the unit on graphing parabolas. My goal was to leave the unit with students being able to answer the question: “How can graphing parabolas help me make decisions?”
The idea of recreating medieval warfare came to me while researching parabola PBL’s. The path of an object catapulted follows a parabola. We started to build catapults out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, clothes pins and more. Once we learned the basics of graphing parabolas in various forms, we started our project of bombing enemy ships just as Hannibal did with snake bombs during the Punic War. (Pause now and research it!)
Students filmed the flight of their catapult with their phones (here is a video example), used Webpaint to find exact points the object flew and imported a screenshot of the flight of the object into Desmos. For the majority of my students who didn’t know how to take a screenshot, this was challenging but they began to see how valuable their new devices could be. At this point, they utilized their knowledge of the equations of quadratics and how the parabola is graphed to create the equation that best represents the flight of their catapult.
Now we were ready to put their project to the test. Students were tasked with bombing an enemy ship that was approaching a cliff. The cliff (desk) was a given height (27 inches). The students had to decide how far away the ship (saucepan) needed to be in order to bomb it within 3 attempts by using the graph of their parabola. Once finished, students reflected on the main question: How can graphing parabolas help me make decisions? Best of all, this project was a quiz score which assessed if the students understood how to write the equation of parabolas and determined if students could use the graph to decide the distance a ship needed to be off shore before bombing the ship.
There were parts of this project that made us want to scream. To my one group who had to re-film the flight of their catapult 5 times, I think you can agree with this last statement! There were parts of this project that made us laugh and cheer. My students were flabbergasted when their prediction was accurate when attempting the final bombing. Students who were unsuccessful asked to try again in order to be more accurate. Most importantly, this project sparked energetic mathematical conversations with my students. I have found that students are more likely to give an honest effort if they can see the curriculum come to life beyond a worksheet. While there are aspects of the project that I will change for next year, I can safely say that taking the risk with a group of tough students was a challenge that I will try more often! Here is a link for the student directions to the project.
We are excited to announce that Bridge to Curriculum is getting some amazing upgrades! You may notice some subtle changes this year, but most of the new functionality will be released this summer.
Professional Learning Library
In addition to the Resource and Assessment Libraries, there will now be a Professional Learning Library in the Bridge to Curriculum. This library will function just like the Resource and Assessment Libraries, but will contain professional learning resources. Educators will be able to access just-in-time PL resources in a multiple modalities such as videos, websites, podcasts, etc. Educators across the district will also be able to contribute to the Professional Learning Library! Users will be able to review and rate PL resources as well.
New SMART Search
A major upgrade is to make the filter in the libraries a SMART Filter. Once implemented (sometime this summer), when a user types in a word, the system will map that word to other like words, so the user gets more choices when searching. Imagine a thesaurus on the backend. For example, if I type in "fractions" the system will search, not just fractions, but a variety of words that align to fractions. See this Microsoft Word image as an example.
You may see this upgrade soon... Another upgrade to the SMART filter will make searching much easier. We are combining the Title, Description and Tags search boxes into one. This upgrade will allow the user to put a single word in this box and the system will search for that word throughout.
Rating Criteria Document
We brought a team of Teachers, Digital-Teacher Librarians, and Instructional Coaches together this year to create the Rating Criteria Document. The intention of this document is to help users rate and add helpful comments to resources in the libraries. Once this upgrade is implemented, users will get a prompt, in the form of a pop-up box, reminding them to rate a resource, assessment or professional learning resource. Here is the actual Rating Criteria document.
Filtering by Most Rated or Title
You will be able to filter by Most Rated or Title by using the radio buttons at the top of the filter. This functionality is being designed just like Amazon! Users will be able to filter by the most rated items, as these rise to the top in popularity. This functionality will be available soon.
Adding a Link to the Digital Tools Database
Soon you will be able to access the Digital Tools database from Bridge to Curriculum. With the ease of one click, you will be able to access Digital Tools from within the curriculum system. The Digital Tools database contains the list of district vetted tools which supports data privacy for our students
Important: Transitioning from Hangouts to Hangouts Meet & Chat
In 2017 Google announced that they will be replacing Classic Google Hangouts with 2 new products, Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. In August, Jeffco will officially transition from Classic Hangouts to Hangouts Meet and Chat.
Hangouts Meet and Chat are currently available on the web for those that are interested in trying out the communication tools (see document below for setup directions). Please know, that in this transition period, some features of Classic Hangouts are not operable in Meet and Chat. Until August, it is important that those who have relied on Classic Hangouts continue to keep that tool available to avoid missing essential communication. More detailed communication will be available in August.
Tech Tip: Hangouts Chat Support Document
Fix: Chrome Cast for Education
We have noticed that some schools are having trouble with Chrome Cast for Education connecting to student and staff Chromebooks. In this scenario, staff and students see the message "no device found." IT has created a Tech Tip document to help you troubleshoot this error.
This error is caused when cloud services has been disabled on the Chrombook. This error is likely caused when a staff or student member added an extension that turned off the cloud service. Because extensions change how your browser functions, it's important to be thoughtful and selective with the extensions you and your students choose to add.
Tech Tip: Chrome Cast for Education Issue
What are Extensions
Goo.gl Shortener End-of-life
As announced last spring the goo.gl URL shortener reached its end-of-life on March 30th, 2019. No new shortened links can be created with this tool.
Our contact at Google has suggested, as a best practice, that we begin to change out old goo.gl shortened addresses. Google does not plan to remove or delete these shortened URLs but it’s never a good idea to rely on outdated technology for important documentation. We have seen some instances where links are receiving errors.
If a shortened link is needed, please consider using bit.ly or tinyurl.com. Also, before shortening, consider when you would need to use a shortened URL:
If users are accessing a link from a digital document (ex: lesson plan, HyperDoc, playlist etc.), you do not need to use shortened URL; simply hyperlink the text or copy paste the actual URL.
Reminder: Sharing Permissions
When sharing documents, it is important to be thoughtful about how you permission the document. When sharing a file in Google you have several choices:
Google Drive Help: Sharing Files from Google Drive
Docs Editors Help: Make Google Docs, Sheets, Slides &Forms Public
What's new in Google Classroom?
Classroom is one of Google's fastest-changing apps and April brought a few new features to make using the tool a bit easier.
Google Educator Certification: Level 1
This fall, Jeffco 5th and 9th grade students will be receiving a personalized learning device. When each student has their own device, the learning (and teaching) experience should change. One way teachers can prepare for this change is to become a Google Certified Educator! The Certified Educator program teaches you the fundamentals for using the G Suite for Education in the classroom. Once you've completed the training, you can elect to take the exam ($10) and receive your official certification. Additionally, you can submit your certificate to Jeffco to receive clock hour credit to support credential re certification (ESS: ETGCER). The Level 1: fundamentals course covers the following content:
This week's blog explores National Robotics Week, using robotics in middle school math, and an excerpt from guest blogger, Kyle Walker, about Vex Robotics Tournaments.
National Robotics Week, April 6-14 2019
National Robotics Week (RoboWeek) is a series of grassroots events and activities during the month of April aimed at increasing public awareness of the strength and importance of the U.S. robotics industry and of the tremendous social and cultural impact that robotics will have on the future. Activities come in all shapes and sizes from a robot block party, university open house, or a robotics competition. The mission of RoboWeek is simple — to inspire students in STEM-related fields and to share the excitement of robotics with audiences of all ages. Celebrate RoboWeek by hosting an event in your community, sponsoring or attending a local event, or spreading the word on social media.
The Purpose of National Robotics Week
Radical Robotics Cohort
This process supported the resilient thinking at the core of Jeffco Generations. One teacher shared their thinking around motivation and robotics in their classroom. He said,“ intrinsic motivation was built in when using robotics and coding. Students receive instantaneous feedback once a program is run whether their program met their goal, did the robot perform the desired behavior. Students are intrinsically motivated to troubleshoot and rewrite their code to meet the program goal.”
Students at Moore Middle School worked with Spheros to look at unite rate and proportions. The first lesson let students experiment and to find the different speeds (Unit Rates) of their Spheros. In the second lesson, students shared the numbers that they acquired and created class average. Students then used class averages to find unit rates that were not tested for by using proportions. The final lesson was based over two different days. Students had to create two mazes for the Spheros to navigate through. They needed to measure the distance of the maze and then time themselves to see who could make it threw the fastest by finding the unit rate.
The teachers used Sphero EDU and the Cubelet Hub as launching pads. Both of these sites house lessons created by teachers. Cohort and others have begun writing lessons that are being shared in the Bridge to Curriculum Resource library. The hope is that these lessons can be a springboard for other Jeffco teachers to begin using robotics and coding in their classrooms as well. To find some of these lesson look for the tag words: Sphero or Cubelet. (Here is a quick reference guide to find resources in the Bridge to Curriculum).
VEX IQ Robotics Club at Kullerstrand Elementary
Kullerstrand Elementary just finished its third season of hosting an after-school competition-oriented VEX IQ robotics club. At the start of the season, teams of three had to analyze the yearly competition game (played on a 4’x8’ playing field), and then they started designing and building their robots. VEX robotics kits are comprised of LEGO-like parts and center around a programmable robot brain, which can connect to various sensors and motors. The teams do not have to program the robot in order to compete, but doing so does give a team a competitive advantage over teams who simply drive the robot with a wireless controller. One exciting feature of our program is a continuing wonderful partnership with students from School of Mines who have not only been serving as referees and judges, but who also have come out and presented in our sessions. Last year they brought our whole group out for a tour of the robotics area of their campus, and we are hoping to do the same again this spring.
This year, Jeffco hosted two official VEX IQ tournaments and had multiple teams qualify to go to the state championship in Erie, Colorado. One of the teams going to state was from Kullerstrand, and it was certainly an eye-opening experience. Our students were exposed to teams from other districts whose enthusiasm, focus and dedication to robotics was both inspiring and challenging. Such things as teamwork, sportsmanship, and professionalism regarding such mundane tasks as keeping up with an engineering notebook and following the design cycle… the importance of all this was driven home in a powerfully experiential way. We are looking forward to next year when we will take the things we learned and apply them to a fresh season of robotics. (Excerpt from Kyle Walker, Digital Teacher Librarian, Kullerstrand Elementary)
Way to go Kyle Walker and THANK YOU for all you do to support robotics in Jeffco!
Ready for more robotics learning?
Attend Rock CS or the Computer Science Learning Academy at InnEdCo this summer! Click on the links to learn more about these new conferences.