Before I was back in the classroom as a 3rd grade teacher in TN, I was a TOSA in southern California. For those of you unfamiliar with the term TOSA, it is a teacher on special assignment. The focus of my TOSA role was to support classroom teachers with EdTech and STEM. My position was grant funded, and included support with the STEM curriculum Project Lead the Way (PLTW). I loved working with teachers, and I quickly became familiar with the PLTW curriculum, including all of the K-5 modules.
One particular PLTW module that I had a lot of experience with was the 1st grade “Light and Sound” module. It included a ton of really cool hands on tools that the students were able to explore and experiment with, while learning about the characteristics of light and sound.
I created the Light & Sound Task Cards as a tool for teachers to use, either following the PLTW module, or along side it. The resource includes 20 task cards that provide students with the opportunity to explore specific materials. The materials that are included in Task Card material list are ALSO all included in the PLTW “Light & Sound” module box. So if you have the PLTW box, these materials are already in your classroom.
If you do not have the PLTW module box, many of the items required can be purchased on Amazon, if they are not already in your classroom. The instructions on each card are very simple and students should be able to read them independently. However, if you have parent helpers, having them support students with the cards would be a great idea too.
Are you planning to incorporate robotics and computer coding in to your classroom, STEM Lab, or makerspace this school year? Before handing the robots over to students, I like to give them the opportunity to explore robots in the real world and to learn a little bit about the history of robotics. I feel like this gives students a little more background into the world of robotics and provides some important real-world connections, showing students how the skills gained in my classroom could be applied to their lives.
I begin my “Robot Research” project with a video that quickly outlines the history of robotics. I like this YouTube video, by SciShow. Yes, the guy in the video speaks quickly, but my students have never had difficulty understanding him, especially the older kids.
Following the video, I have students read an article about a specific type of robot, in order to discuss the steps of the engineering design process, and to think about the purpose of that robot and what problem it was invented to solve. I really love using the cockroach robot article, that can be found on NewsELA. If you have a NewsELA account, you can change the reading level of the article for your students. There is also a YouTube video, by UC Berkeley, that shows the cockroach robot in action. So gross and cool at the same time!
I then assign students to research a specific type of robot, usually with a partner or a group of 3. Students watch videos about their robot, and read an article or two. They they create a presentation (Popplet or Slides) that gives a brief overview of their robot. They share their presentations with the rest of the class.
I like incorporating a Robot Research project as an introduction to robotics for a few reasons:
I have created a resource in my teachers pay teachers store “Love-Fleck EdTech” called Robot Research, which includes all of these steps, outlined for easy implementation in the classroom. The resource includes links to several YouTube videos, so be sure that your students will be able to access those videos - either independently or whole class.
In my last BLOG post, I discussed some of the amazing opportunities that I have to support the K-8 teachers at my three school sites. Read all about that HERE. In this post, I am focusing on our new Science and Engineering curriculum, Project Lead the Way, and the way that I am supporting our teachers with implementing it. Our three schools purchased this curriculum with our DoDEA grant funds, which also pay for a full-time TOSA (that's me).
Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a hands-on, inquiry-based science/engineering program that includes modules filled with tons of amazing activities and curriculum. Our K-5 teachers had the option to attend a 2 day PLTW training over the summer, while our Middle School science teachers were able to attend a week of training. I attended the summer training with the K-5 teachers, for the Launch PLTW curriculum.
Once the school year began, my role was to support teachers in implementing the PLTW Modules for their grade level. That support looks very different, depending on the teacher and grade level. Because this is our first year implementing PLTW, teachers are encouraged to go at their own pace with the modules. I provide support for teachers by co-teaching modules, meeting with grade levels during PLCs, and organizing meetings to unpack the modules and look at the activities, projects, and problem-based work together.
Now that this school year is beginning to come to a close, I'm starting to consider my PLTW plans for next school year. I would love to see all teachers at my three sites implementing PLTW with their students. I would also like to have more opportunities for teacher professional learning and PD focusing on science, engineering, and PLTW.
All thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas are that of Heather Love-Fleck, and not the school district that employs her. She reserves the right to change her thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas at any time.