During the 17-18 school year, I’ve had the good fortune to get to work with several K-12 students in USD 113 using Dash and Dot Robots by Wonder Workshop. This is the first in a series of posts that are reflections on what I’ve learned and how I hope our district moves forward.
Last spring I got permission to order a single Dash and Dot set to evaluate because I’d seen them at a couple of technology conferences and wanted to try for myself to see if they’d work as well as my first impression. I loved them! A middle school student who was job-shadowing with us spent a little time experimenting an giving input, too. I had a colleague with another set, so I used the robots once last spring for about 40 minutes with each of the 4th grade kids in some small groups. They just got a taste, but I was hooked as I watched the student enthusiasm, engagement, problem solving and collaboration skyrocket!
Over the summer we ordered a few more sets of robots and accessory attachments like bulldozer attachments, ball launchers and xylophones as a district, and I also applied for an Appleseed Innovation Grant, a super-cool, local program that encourages innovative projects in the USD 113 district. My grant was innovative because it includes after-school coding and robotics opportunities for the kids in our district AND incentives for teachers who help me by staying after with the kiddos as volunteers! Teachers who stay and help in the after-school programs are earning robots for their own classrooms which the grant helped to pay for! In this series of blog posts, I’ll reflect on these after school opportunities as well as the work we do throughout this year using the robots in the classrooms of the district. (Maybe I’ll even get a teacher or two to offer some reflections of their own!)
So far at this point, all 4 first grade classes in our three elementary schools have had about 8 sessions learning with the Dash robots through explicit instruction, experimentation and guided challenges! So I’ll also share some reflections about my experiences with first grade! The third grade classes at Sabetha Elementary School all invited me in to do a couple of 30-minute sessions with them focusing on the math concept of input-output machines. At Axtell, the Dash robots were invited to be part of their high school’s first ever Career Day as an exploratory session to encourage students to consider coding and computer science as well as other topics that our small schools may not be able to offer as formal electives. And I had a great time introducing the 3rd and 4th graders at our Wetmore school to Dash and Dot during Computer Science Education Week back in December. I meant to start reflecting in m blog much sooner, but better late than never, I guess! I hope you’ll check back to learn more in the next several days to read more about my reflections!!