We had our second session this week. We’re quickly discovering that our best practice to expect the unexpected. We’re learning flexibility with the dedication of a contortionist in Cirque Du Soleil.
Our lesson was drastically different than our pilot program. We only had two returning students when class began. We grouped Anaiza and Fritz together, and encouraged them to continue on to lesson three. The remaining four began lesson one in pairs. Later Raheen, TJ, and Malakai joined the group. It seems late arrivals will be a normal occurrence, as some students may have after school commitments, or may have to walk from home if their guardian cannot pick them up. Because of our situation, we have decided to begin our lessons using only three of the bots, and saving the remaining three for late students. We anticipate that this issue of tardiness will persist throughout the program. This course of action allows later students to begin the lesson with other tardy students, so they start on the same page rather than jumping into an already developed group lesson.
We expected that the students would experience some difficulties using the program. The program is intuitive to a certain extent, but the students are struggling to learn the interface, and as a result some actions take longer, particularly configuring the settings. This can only be solved with experience. As the students learn the interface, their interactions with it will become autonomous.
Students are also experiencing issues understanding the order of operation when using the programming blocks. We will need to takes steps to remedy this, as it is essential for upcoming lessons. One of our volunteers mentioned that there are certain mentoring strategies we can adopt. The team aligned that when a student asks for help, they must first explain to the mentor their actions and the reasoning behind them. This gives the students a chance to both cement their knowledge via teaching and to catch their errors.
Team leadership noticed that the Northeastern volunteers are struggling to convey the lesson and answer questions about the lesson succinctly and accurately. In order to head the problem off early, we are altering our bi-weekly volunteer meetings, encouraging more hands on time for the volunteers, and potentially having them teach the coding team the lesson after they learn it. Similar to how we hope the students will cement their knowledge by explaining their choices, we hope that by teaching the coding team, the volunteers will be more confident in their knowledge. We will be sticking to bi-weekly volunteer meetings, as we cannot ask for more of their time. However, we will send weekly emails to the volunteers with the lesson, and encourage them to read and review it before the Monday sessions.
We are looking at potential snow day tomorrow, so we may not have a session. We will keep you posted on the goings on of our program and team.
See you on the flip side.
- Bits&Bots Team
P.S. Why was the computer cold?
P.S.S. It left its Windows open. =P
They say "better late than never," so with great apologies we wanted to post our pilot program recap:
They say to expect the unexpected. We could cite the girl scouts here and say “be prepared,” but sometimes you think you’re ready for anything, and that Frisbee keeps getting bigger and then it hits you.
(So we’re a little dramatic.)
We expected students who had no background in computer science. We expected low to medium interest, students looking for something to do.
They were interested. They were curious. They had that relentless perseverance and determination to see and hear and absorb and understand. Some had worked with EV3 before; others had knowledge of python. One student spoke three languages and is currently testing out of 6th grade.
They flew through lessons one and two. We will have to completely re-work our lesson plans for the next seven sessions. We will incorporate new sensors, and more challenging programs.
It was a fairly small group. We definitely are not at capacity, and we probably will not reach it during the winter months. The librarian told us that in the winter students do not stay as long because the sun sets so early.
But ohmygoodness we are so excited!
Next week we will start implementing our volunteer survey, debriefing after each session, and tracking trends, but for now we are absolutely thrilled.