Many administrators are put in the position of having to “measure outcomes” of new curriculum or product implementation purchases or initiatives. But what does this look like for a hands-on learning experience, like VEX GO? While there are multiple implementations possible for VEX GO, “successful” VEX GO classrooms have something in common - actively engaged students and teachers who are building, coding, experimenting, and learning through action, discussion, and questioning.
Consider these scenarios:
A VEX GO Learning Center - One of the class’s center options is a VEX GO Kit set up for students to use with VEX GO Activities. Throughout the year, the teacher offers new activities related to what the class is learning about, for further student exploration. This can be a successful set up for a veteran teacher who is new to teaching with technology and may be hesitant to dive right into using STEM Labs with students.
Teaching STEM Labs in a 4th grade classroom - The teacher chooses STEM Lab Units that align with what is happening in the class curriculum, and teaches STEM Labs as “plug in” lessons during Science or Math periods. During these lessons, the teacher can be seen acting in a facilitator role, and students are working in small groups to build and perform experiments with their VEX GO Kits. VEX GO models are often kept together over time, and students use them with VEX GO Activities at Choice Time.
STEM Class uses VEX GO during students’ “Specials” period - STEM Teachers proceed through STEM Lab Units with students over the course of the school year, and during each STEM period, students complete a Lab. Because the same Kits can be used repeatedly throughout the day, all grade level students have similar experiences and shared learning outcomes.
In each, students are engaging with the materials and the teachers are teaching hands-on activities. But each implementation is wildly different. With that kind of inconsistency, what can be consistently identified as a measure of success? As an administrator walking through the school and looking in at VEX GO classrooms, what should you be looking for?
In a VEX GO Classroom you should see:
- Students working in small groups
- Students following build instructions to construct models together
- Teachers introducing concepts through conversations
- Students spread out around the classroom
- Teachers using hands-on demonstrations to start a lesson
- Students setting up experiments on different surfaces
- Students using devices with robotic builds to complete a task
- Robot builds “racing” on the floor of a classroom
- Students explaining things using their hands or bodies to show spatial language
- Teachers in the role of facilitator, moving around the classroom - not lecturing in the front of the room
In a VEX GO Classroom you should hear:
- More student voices than teacher voices
- Students excitedly engaging about STEM subjects and concepts
- Students asking questions to one another in small groups
- Teachers engaging students in discussions with open ended questions
- Students problem solving through conversation and discussion
- VEX GO Motors running at different times and in different places
- Students cheering for their robot to “win” a race
- Teachers regrouping with students around the room for a “Mid Play Break” discussion
- Students talking through challenges, and explaining their ideas based on their observations
- Teachers verbally highlighting moments of positive student collaboration
- Students and teachers celebrating solving a challenge out loud together
In a VEX GO Classroom students transfer 21st Century skills to other domains:
- Sequencing and decomposition practice from coding explorations is transferred to Language Arts when students are tasked with writing informational texts to explain a process.
- Decision making strategies from VEX GO group work are applied to students working collaboratively on an Art project.
- Spatial reasoning skills are used to help students visualize the difference between area and perimeter during Math class.
- Persistence and patience gained from having to try multiple iterations of a VEXcode GO project to accomplish a goal is later used when students encounter a difficult passage while reading a novel and have to re-read it to understand it.
- Explaining ideas using evidence from STEM Lab discussions transfers to a Social Studies debate about historical events.