2018-11-05 STEAMLab_wk12 pressure_12_steam-lab

Year3-Week12: The Value of Pressure in Learning

The original idea was to post at the end of every week something with much more reflection and thoughtfulness than my previous daily social media posts that I had done over the past two-years. I was able to keep to that schedule for the first eight-weeks or so, but have faltered and failed since then. I got very “Ranty” with the last post and really didn’t want these posts to turn into just another online bitch session. That said, the pressure of just doing the job with the additional pressure of writing up a plan that would account for 40% of my assessment as an educator pretty much blanked out any other creative endeavor. Being able to pull the efforts of the past week into a publishable overview/summary really got crushed in the pressure of trying to create a year-long plan that would impact my teacher-quotient, when truthfully, especially over the past two weeks, I’ve been pulling my curriculum out-of-nowhere on the day, and that doesn’t lend itself toward being particularly aligned to some grand design or curriculum alignment.

Given my dependence on technology, which never works the first time out, I never thought that I would literally come up with my lesson within minutes of students arriving in my lab. But I have to say, that I’m relatively happy with my ability to adjust and come up with something creative in the moment. That’s not a skill I wanted to engender, but I guess it’s better than crumbling under the pressure and crying because it didn’t go “as planned.” Speaking of which, yesterday I finished my second run-through of classes using the WeDo robots and while we did a little better than the first group, there’s still a lot that needs to be “adjusted.”

The original plan was to have the students work on the robots for four sessions (four weeks), beginning with a lesson on organizing the parts, then build and program a robot for each session beginning with a “snail” that changed colors, then Milo the Science rover that could be programmed to move forward and backward, then adding a sensor to Milo so that it would stop when encountering an obstacle and finishing with a large rover that could be programmed to scoop up a target object and turn (to the left). Yeah, only a couple of teams bothered to organize their robot kits and almost none built, much less programmed all of the target robots. Admin noted in my last assessment a lack of bringing lessons/units to a conclusion. The original plan was to include a robot-olympics day, like what we did at Full Sail Labs, but four sessions (50 minutes x 4) does not quick measure up to the amount of robot programming time we had when we spent 4 eight-hour days building and program our m-bot robots and then creating presentations to share with parent of the fifth day.

So the adjustment is to have the kits pre-organized, get everyone to build/program and play with Milo the Science rover right away, then build/program the larger moon-base robot for session two and have a robot competition/customizing session(s) for weeks three and four. We don’t have the hours to play that I had at Full Sail Labs, but then at Full Sail Labs we built one robot to run through a series of challenges/exercises, ending with a robot olympics and that is something that we can do with the limited time we have. Also, I’m not going to let them pick their partners and will assign them to work with the seat partners because too much choice is screwing with their ability to get the basic tasks done (something else noted in my last teacher observation!). So, the pressure has been nuts, but I’ve also learned a lot and need to see that these hard fought lessons gets translated into my daily classroom practice(s).

And the one thing that really keeps me going is my students’ creativity and efforts, as demonstrated in the following images:

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