Our middle school students are wrapping up their first learning engagements, and the work they are doing is absolutely phenomenal!!! We have Photoshop, snap circuitry, K'Nex, solar-powered cars, video game design, and clay animation taking place in our Lab, as well as many other projects. A big part of the learning engagement is the ePortfolio that students are responsible for. From day one, students in the SmartLab have had to keep a digital journal, recording and documenting their work in the Lab. This accountability piece is important to me, as the facilitator, because it shows the process of the projects, and requires students to explain their work, in detailed writing.
Elementary students are finishing up their Orientations this week, and next week I will have fifth graders begin their first learning engagement. For elementary students, they will get the opportunity to work on three learning engagements this year, which include LEGO WeDo, Snap Circuits, Vernier sensors, K'Nex, and Code.org.
Before opening the SmartLab at Stuart Mesa, I debated going through a detailed orientation or just jumping in to the Learning Launches. I chose to go through the orientation with every student that visits the Lab. Now, that I see how smoothly things are running, I am sooo glad that I chose to open the lab with the orientation. The Learners in the Lab are totally rocking the STEM projects that they are working on, and the Facilitator (me) is loving it!
We are having a ton of fun in the Stuart Mesa SmartLab! Each day, I am so impressed with all that the students can do, and I cannot wait for them to finish their first Learning Engagement!!!
In middle school, I have been challenging the Learners with projects that rely on a strong knowledge of Google Apps for Education (GAFE), and many of them are quickly becoming Google experts. From day ONE of the SmartLab Opening, I have required students to record their progress, findings, difficulties, etc. in a Google Slides journal, which is submitted through a Google Classroom assignment. This will make up their ePortfolio. Students are encouraged to describe their activity in the lab in great detail, and to make connections between the STEM activities in the lab and the REAL world! I, personally, felt that the assessment and accountability piece of the lab was very important, and that is why I made the decision to start the journal from the beginning.
In elementary, I have seen Grades Five, Four, and 2 out of the 4 Third grade classes in the SmartLab so far. Each class has spent four days, an hour each day in the lab. During that time, we focused on a SmartLab orientation, where I laid the foundation for procedures and routines, which will keep our Lab running smoothly throughout the school year. Even with elementary learners, I have been requiring a daily Google Slides journal and participation in the Google Classroom. Don't worry, the students have also done some hands on activities, experimenting with K'Nex, Code.org, and Vernier Sensors!
The SmartLab is such an exciting place to be, and I am thrilled to be able to facilitate this type of learning environment!