I teach 8th grade physical science for most of the day and a STEM class during the last period of the day. I work hard to integrate a variety of technology tools into all of my classes in meaningful ways because they allow for important skills and can be a great way to engage students.
I work with 8th graders in Wasilla, Alaska.
They are energetic, and at times challenging to focus, but generally good-natured and ready and willing to learn. In addition to a predominantly Caucasian population, I have Russian, Hispanic, African American, and Alaska Native students.
My students are lucky to attend, and I am lucky to teach, at a school that has a great reputation for academic excellence. Unfortunately, due to a tight budget, access to technology is still limited. As a consequence, many of my students come to me with a deficit in basic computer skills (for some, just logging onto a computer is difficult). To create a spreadsheet with a chart and a trend line and then make a prediction is a difficult task for many. Writing a computer program is something most have never done. While we can make due with what we have, my students have every right to be frustrated with our limited resources and deserve better.
Students will use the Kindles in a variety of ways. First, and foremost, I plan to teach App development using MIT's App Inventor. It is a basic programming tool that allows students to make simple Apps with little prior knowledge.
In addition to App development, I plan to use the Kindles to wirelessly control and troubleshoot the robots we are building and programming in my STEM class. I have already developed an inexpensive robotics platform and taught students to use tablets in this manner at my former school.
I also plan to use the Kindles in my science classes to give assessments using Moodle (an online learning management system), record experiments, submit data, and more. I have several students who already come to class with cell phones. By providing Kindles to the rest, I can supplement our bring your own device (BYOD) policy so that every one of my students can benefit from the aforementioned uses.
Teaching programming and robotics is tremendously engaging, and students learn a great deal without realizing that they are learning.
Programming is a great tool for teaching students how to learn and robotics is a great way to teach problem solving. I expect students to leave my classroom with a whole host of new skills and interests, at least one of which they will pursue independently.
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