This year, our library is fortunate to have a robotics loan from Birdbrain Technologies. We have 12 Finch robots that we are using throughout the year for coding experiences for our students. Currently, a group of 2nd-5th graders are meeting every Friday for one hour to learn to code these robots and create projects with them.
Donna MacDonald (Vermont) and Jenny Lussier (Connecticut) are two wonderful friends who inspire me through my professional learning network, and they also have these robots on loan. Jenny and Donna wrote their robotics loan application with plans to collaborate with one another, and they have invited my students to jump in to their learning. We recently started talking on Twitter about how our kids could collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously, and we were looped in to a conversation about EdCamp Global.
I wish I had clued in to EdCamp Global sooner because it was an amazing opportunity. Across 24 hours over 51 countries and more than 800 classrooms empowered students’ and teachers’ voices in multiple online formats. Not only did voices from around the globe come together but there was also a true global audience to watch the work happen. I definitely want to do more with this the next time around.
Thanks to Donna and Jenny’s enthusiastic energy, we pulled together a session on the EdCamp Global schedule to allow our students to share. Jenny got the application in, setup the Google Hangout, and got everything up and running for us. Donna created a Google doc of resources for the session and started advertising our session on social media.
On the morning of the hangout, I was able to pull a couple of my Friday students from their classrooms to join the hangout and Jenny & Donna both had classes of students rotate through their libraries. Across the 1-hour session, we talked about the Finch loan program and how we got started. We also talked about other robotics tools that we are using in our schools such as Sphero, BB-8, Dash and Dot, and Ollie.
My favorite part was when students took turns sharing their experience with robotics. My two students showed programs that they were working on within Level 1 of Snap! Donna and Jenny’s students also told stories of challenges they had faced with the robots, things they had figured out, and plans for what they hoped to do over the next few weeks.
Toward the end of our time, Jenny had her students start experimenting with Scratch and Finch. They had just enough time to come over and demonstrate what they figured out during the hangout. I can’t wait to share what we learned with the rest of our 2nd-5th graders so we can continue to explore programming the Finch.
Donna created a Padlet where we can post challenges to one another.
Jenny created a Flipgrid where students can share video challenges or tips about the Finch robots.
I think it is just incredible how students in multiple locations can come together to collaborate in real time when our schedule allows, and that we can continue to collaborate even when we aren’t meeting together at the same time. My group is just getting started, so I can’t wait to see what we learn from Jenny and Donna’s students and what we are able to contribute along the way too!