Using Robotics Roles & Routines to Support Group Work with VEX GO

Each STEM Lab involves students in collaborative building and learning experiences. To help facilitate this collaboration, the Robotics Roles & Routines was designed to support teachers and students in organizing within their groups. Student groups are divided into two roles - Builder or Journalist - and each have accompanying responsibilities based on those roles. The student roles concept is supported by the Roles & Routines sheet, and the “Suggested Role Responsibilities” slide in the Lab specific slideshows. The idea is to build this tool into the routines of the STEM Labs in your classroom.

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Why Builders and Journalists?

In every STEM Lab, students are involved in both building and writing throughout the Lab. For this reason, the two roles are titled “Builder” and “Journalist” to highlight these two functions within each Lab. It is important to note that while the role titles highlight building and writing, the roles themselves are not exclusive to just that functionality. Every student can participate in both building and writing throughout the Lab - regardless of what their roles are.

“Suggested Role Responsibilities” Slides

To help students organize within their roles, each STEM Lab Image Slideshow contains a “Suggested Role Responsibilities” slide. These slides offer a suggested breakdown of responsibilities for the whole Lab, so that students can know, from the beginning, what parts of the Lab they will be doing. The roles are designed to be balanced, so students do not feel that one role is “less fair” or “less important” than the other. The Journalist doesn’t only write, and the Builder doesn’t only build - they just take turns in doing so. Additionally, they can help facilitate turn taking throughout the STEM Lab activities, by giving students a tool for monitoring how they are working together.

These slides are optional, and offer just suggestions for the Lab. Teachers can create their own Role Responsibilities as well, or verbally add to those included in the slides, to give special consideration to their particular group of students and their own needs and dispositions.

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The Robotics Roles & Routines Sheet

The Robotics Roles & Routines Sheet is built into STEM Labs when students join their groups to get ready to work together. The sheet itself can be filled out by one student, or students can take turns to write in their own responsibilities. The sheet is designed to be used in conjunction with the Suggested Role Responsibilities slides, so that students can see the responsibilities, and write them into the spaces on the sheet. Beneath that, the names of the student(s) in each role are written.

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The shared responsibilities are listed on the Robotics Roles & Routines sheet as well, and highlight things like keeping track of VEX GO Kits and pieces, and following directions. This section also has a space to fill in the method by which the group will make decisions should the need arise.

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Facilitation notes in STEM Labs offer strategies like flipping a coin, voting, or rolling a die, and this space encourages students to think about this before the decision making process occurs. These strategies, and the decisions themselves, will vary from Lab to Lab. The idea is that during the Lab, students have the ability to refer back to their agreement, and to act on that decision making strategy in the moment.

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Lastly, the bottom of the sheet is divided into four quadrants that focus on collaboration. This section is optional. These questions are designed to help students reflect on their prior experiences together to promote successful group work today, and in the future. The top two questions are meant to be completed at the start of the Lab, while the bottom two are meant for the end of the Lab. In each Share section of the STEM Lab, there are Collaborating Prompts, which teachers can use to engage students in a discussion about how they are working together.

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The Share questions and conversations will vary from Lab to Lab, but this section of the Robotics Roles & Routines sheet brings those discussion points into the activity of the Lab, so students are reminded of them and can act upon them.

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We do not expect students to be able to self-organize on their own, and the Robotics Roles & Routines are meant to support teachers and students as they engage in group learning activities with VEX GO.