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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Challenging Kids

My students are so creative and productive - who could ask for more? Today one group put three motors together to make something that looked like an arm with two elbows. I saw at least three catapults, and one group made a machine that stood three feet tall (and did not fall when it ran). I tried to stump them with a nested loop and recorded action in Logo (Mindstorms' programming language) AND seeing who could make the tallest machine. Next we will learn about the wait and switch buttons. The week will culminate with a robot dance contest on Friday.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lego Mindstorms NXT

The students in Glenview are learning very fast. Today I showed them a loop structure and will teach a nested loop and switch next week, along with the record button. It has been delightful to haved an LCD projector, so I can show them instead of drawing some really bad pictures on the board, then having them try to remember when they go to the laptops. One young man today wasn't doing anything. When I went over to see if he wanted to change groups or see how to program, he said he was fine just watching. I think we all get tired by Friday. No lack of enthusiasm, however. Some of the parents came in to see what we were doing, and no one noticed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day Two

The students in Glenview are taxing my ability to challenge them! I want to keep things simple, but the students want to get on with it and make machines that can catapult (hour two) and walk. I am letting them work ahead if they have had the class before, but I can see some confusion in the faces of the newbies. We will try again tomorrow to use one or two sensors with just the NXT program. Wish I had a nice set of transparencies to illustrate what I want them to do, hint, hint, Lego!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Glenview Lego Lab

The program in Lego robotics started today in Glenview, IL. I was amazed to notice that although I had twice as many students, I did not have more problems with behavior. I would have to admit that the noise level went up, but the Center was kind enough to send an assistant to help. The students are so excited. I actually had someone ask if they could use the Legos, and I said that I believed in hands-on classwork. I start each day with 5-10 minutes of instruction, then let them go to work. One group did not get a machine up and running in the remaining lab time, so they were frustrated. Hopefully they will tomorrow. This is the first time I have one or more groups who have had the instruction before, so I am letting them work ahead. It is so fun to see the kids at work. Team issues are a problem, as well, so we may have to make some changes to the teams. It is better if there are only 2-3 kids on a team, but I think it is also important to group them heterogeneously. I group them according to their interests, so they can make new friends.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Assistive Technology Class

Our graduate class has begun and I have a wonderful group of students. We looked at writing tools last week, including low-tech items purchased cheaply, and high-tech software such as Co:Writer, Intellitools Suite, and Inspiration/Kidspiration. Each person had completed a picture sequence of something they did on a regular basis, to see if they could put individual steps in without leaving any out. We talked about the writing process, which involves the combination of language skills, organizational skills and visual-motor skills. Students may need assistance at any level. I had rifled through my garage digging up my low-tech tools, now I must rifle through to find my low-tech reading aids. How fast this summer is going!