Wednesday, January 13, 2016

PLTW Professional Development

The fifth grade teachers felt a bit overwhelmed and under prepared for the end of Module 1.  Their PLTW module is robotics and, by the end of the first module, the children were going to build a robot that is connected to a brain allowing it to move with a joystick. 

Using the Vex kits is quite a challenge since it has thousands of pieces that have to be put together in a very specific way for the robot to work.  So the teachers asked for some time to work together to learn how to use the VEX kit with the Autodesk Innovator App to build that robot.  

Last week we got the time.  With Lisa Parisi acting as classroom teacher and the teachers playing students, we had a challenging, exciting time building.   Once they got to the part where their robot moved around, the excitement was difficult to contain.

This extra PD session was very successful.  The teachers felt better prepared and went right back to work.  All the classrooms were buzzing with the noise of children working their way through the project.  And the teachers were excellent facilitators!  PLTW is alive and well at Denton Avenue!


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Kindergarten Embraces Project Lead the Way

As 2016 begins, Denton Avenue students and teachers are finishing up their first PLTW module. And as the classes reach the final project and problem, the teachers are excitedly sharing their pictures with each other.  The ideas are flowing, the conversations are vibrant, and the children are showing off their scientific expertise.  

In kindergarten, with Module 1: Structure and Function, the children followed Suzi, Angelina, and Mylo through the literary journey of Jack and the Beanstalk and The Three Little Pigs.  They were challenged to create beanstalks that would be structurally sound while serving the function of helping Jack climb high.  Then they were challenged to create homes out of bricks (styrofoam blocks), sticks (tongue depressors), or straw (toothpicks).  Their homes had to withstand the Big Bad Wolf (a powerful electric fan). 

What did they learn through all this?  As Susan Fabian explained, "The children learned how to work together.  And by watching each other, they learned to remodel their beanstalks.  They learned that the beanstalk needed a stronger base than just one pipe cleaner."  Her students learned about balance.  John and Hailey spoke about their beanstalk. "Our beanstalk had to be big to climb up to the clouds.  We needed two (pipe cleaners) to make it tight.  And one (pipe cleaner) wouldn't balance so it would fall over."

Milly Loman taught her students the spanish words for bricks, sticks, and straw, as well as the words for Structure and Function.  The children excitedly used these words to talk about the houses they were building. 

All of the kindergarten students had fun while learning. See what they accomplished.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.