Jul 22, 2013

Repurposing Playtime #3

Assessment


If I were to based my evaluation of maker culture only on the experiences I had with Littlebits in the maker projects in the MAETEL session, I would walk away and never look back. That's not to mean I don't like Littlebits, I just don't see them fitting into my class. I think having the parts that are easy to snap together and have identified input, functions, and outputs makes it more accessible to everyone.

I went to the Tech Museum in San Jose and they had a display called "Social Robots," and they acted a little bit like "Bigbits," if you will. I'll let Katie explain them.


The part that made this interesting, and Katie even says so, is the best part in dressing up the robot. I had fun dressing up Agnus to help in the hospital, and I think adding that context guided everyone into making friendly robots, even if they are carrying a needle.

Me and Agnus
Me and Agnus

So, I had a fun time playing with the robots, but what do they do? If they point was to raise the spirits of someone in the hospital, it might have worked. If the goal was to learn some Algebra, I don't see any application. Now, if I was the person making and putting together the robot parts, I would have learned a lot from it.


From the gallery floor, you can peek into the maker space for the museum and see parts of the robots half assembled. If you could buy a robot kit and put it together as a class, that would be very cool. Lots of things could go wrong, but kids could work separately on each cube if they wanted.

As we move forward, I think the adoption of the Common Core Standards is going to provide an opportunity for change the inertia of our curriculum. Right now, I hardly have to look at the Standards, but because my school district has created a pacing guide that tells me what skills I have to teach, and in what order. I just learned today that I will be teaching Course 1 next year, so I can be a guiding force for what is going to be put into the pacing, or whether we should have a pacing guide at all. I would like to see the format of the pacing guide change to focus on large project instead of little skills. Right now, the pacing guide lists all 89 skills that we have to teach, which gives us about 2 days skill, and then we move on. I have been more successful when I don't do that. Students can't learn that many separate skills that quickly. What they can do is work on large projects that incorporate a few skills that they spend time with. Having a maker project would be something that I would consider doing, but it will not be with the Littlebits.