The resources built into VEXcode GO are designed to support the teaching and learning of coding concepts within STEM Lab Units. These resources can be used to aid in a number of implementation challenges that teachers face, like missing class time, remote learning, or differentiation. Tutorial videos, example projects, and the Help feature offer additional supports for the coding concepts engaged in throughout the Unit.
This article will cover:
- Tutorial Videos Reiterate STEM Lab Concepts
- Example Projects Offer Extra Practice and Challenges
- The Help Feature as a Vehicle for Reteaching
- Using These Resources in the Context of a STEM Lab Unit
- Tying It All Together - Tim’s Story
Tutorial Videos Reiterate STEM Lab Concepts
The tutorial videos in VEXcode GO are brief videos embedded within the platform that show and explain the coding functionality and concepts that are used in VEX GO coding STEM Lab Units. They can be utilized to enhance or augment your STEM Lab teaching, or in place of direct instruction. Each video is designed to explain a concept or function in VEXcode GO directly to a student, so that they can be viewed independently.
Featuring animations and concise descriptions, tutorial videos can bring complex concepts, like sequencing or pseudocode, to life for a student. Aligned with STEM Lab concepts, tutorial videos are a useful tool to have in your VEX GO teaching repertoire.
When implementation challenges arise throughout the year, like a student missing class or a remote learning day, tutorial videos can be used by teachers in situations like:
- Instructing a student who missed class to watch a tutorial video to quickly catch up on the concept they missed.
- Using a tutorial video in place of direct instruction to teach a STEM Lab in a shorter time period.
- Having a student watch a tutorial video on a concept they are struggling with, as a reteach strategy.
- Assigning a tutorial video as part of a remote learning strategy, in preparation for the STEM Lab activity that will happen in class.
Example Projects Offer Extra Practice and Challenges
The example projects built into VEXcode GO are sample projects that highlight a particular function (like using the LED Bumper to display colors), or a coding concept, (like using basic Drivetrain commands) in the context of a project. These projects are sometimes used within the activity of a STEM Lab, where students are directed to open an example project and use it for the coding portion of the Lab. Example projects can also be used for differentiation - to support students who need extra practice with a concept, or are ready for an additional challenge.
Each example project features a Note that offers a description of the project and what it is designed to do, as well as the robot configuration used. These Notes enable students to have an initial understanding of the robot's intended behavior in the project.
Example projects also make use of [Comment] blocks, to both model the use of pseudocode in planning a project, as well as to provide context for how and why the blocks are used in the project.
Example projects can be used to meet implementation challenges, like differentiation, in ways such as:
- Assigning an example project to a student who is ready for an additional challenge, and asking him or her to iterate or add to it to extend its usage.
- Using an example project in conjunction with a tutorial video to catch a student up who missed a class, or part of a STEM Lab Unit.
- Instructing a class to use an example project instead of building a new project, to teach a STEM Lab in a shorter amount of time.
- Having students “read” an example project for remote learning, and identify how it connects or builds upon the coding concept they worked on in class.
The Help Feature As a Vehicle for Reteaching With Students
The Help feature in VEXcode GO offers additional explanations and examples of how individual blocks work within a project. The Help is designed to be read by teachers, or supporting adults, so that they can better explain the block itself to a student. Each Help entry contains a description of the block’s functionality, an explanation of how it is used, and an example that shows the block in the context of a project. Teachers can use the Help with students who are struggling with building a project in a STEM Lab using a particular block, students who were given code to recreate and want to learn more about the blocks in the project, or with a whole class as part of an extension activity.
Using the Help Together
Teachers can read the description and the “How to Use” section for, or with, the student, then direct the student to the “Example” section. The student can explain what they think is happening in the example shown, and the teacher can ask questions about how that example relates to the concept or project they are working on in the STEM Lab. The teacher and student can then look at the STEM Lab project, and begin to build or refine it together using what they just talked about in the Help.
The Help can be used to support teachers in various implementation challenges, as well, including:
- Directing a student’s one on one support professional to the Help for a block, so that they can work with the student to better understand how the block works and use it successfully in the STEM Lab project.
- Using the Help as part of a reteach strategy to support a student who is struggling to understand why their project isn’t performing as intended.
- Reading the Help for a block with a class, and using the example as a demonstration to revisit a block’s functionality.
- Referring parents or family members to the Help to support their students on remote learning days.
Using These Resources in the Context of a STEM Lab Unit
The VEXcode GO resources that best align with the coding concepts in each STEM Lab Unit are identified in the “Making This Unit Fit Your Unique Classroom Needs” section of the Pacing Guide, within the Unit Overview. This section of the Pacing Guide not only identifies the most pertinent VEXcode GO Resources, it also offers targeted recommendations and suggestions for how to use them to support various challenges or situations that can arise.
This guidance is designed to help teachers feel supported in every aspect of teaching STEM Labs in their classrooms, both in the best of circumstances, and especially in the moments when the best laid plans simply don’t work out. STEM Lab Units can be adapted to meet those changing needs when they arise. The challenges addressed in this section offer guidance for situations like needing to implement a Unit in less time or a small space, as well as strategies for reteaching and extending the Unit to support differentiation or asynchronous implementation.
The VEXcode GO Resources table then goes into more detail about each of the items mentioned, as well as additional resources that support the coding concepts addressed in the Unit. The coding concept, like “Sequencing” or “Drivetrain Commands”, is identified first, and then each resource is named along with a brief description of what is shown or exemplified. For those that were not included in the strategies listed above, the description also offers guidance for how to use that resource in conjunction with the STEM Lab Unit, like “Use this as an additional challenge”, etc.
Beneath the table of resources, VEXcode GO Help is also highlighted. Here, a brief description of how to make the best use of Help with your students for the Unit is offered, as well as a list of blocks that are included in the projects within the STEM Lab Unit.
VEX GO STEM Labs are designed with teachers in mind, and the resources embedded within VEXcode GO seek to support teachers as they bring coding concepts to life in any classroom, for any student, and in any implementation scenario.
Tying It All Together - Tim’s Story
Tim is a 5th grade teacher, whose classroom looks like a Maker Space. His teaching style is active, creative, and engaging, and he works hard to incorporate hands-on activities into lessons in all curricular areas. Tim is known in his school for getting students excited about learning, particularly when it comes to STEM. This year, he started using VEX GO with his class, and they enjoyed the building Labs, but he has also seen his students’ curiosity about robotics sparked in bigger ways. This energy has given great momentum to his STEM Lab lessons, as students are eager to create coding projects and see them come to life on their VEX GO robots.
However, a few unexpected remote learning days due to a snowstorm made Tim worry that he was going to lose that momentum. But Tim looked to the “Making This Unit Fit Your Unique Classroom Needs” section of the Pacing Guide, to find another path to keep that energy alive. Tim assigned his students the Sequencing tutorial video to watch, as they were working on the Parade Float STEM Lab Unit in class. After watching the video, the class was told to open the Drivetrain Moves & Turns example project, and write or record an explanation of what they thought the Code Base was going to do from that project. When students returned to school, Tim had a Code Base on a GO Field set up with a Chromebook, and the example project opened at one station of the room. Part of the Morning Work was to start the example project and check their explanation. Students were eager to see if they had “read” the code correctly, and were animated in sharing where they had questions or found surprises.
Tim used this experience to engage students in a discussion of why the robot behaviors were different than their expectation. He was then able to move into the next Lab in the Unit, despite the loss of in class time. Instead of having his momentum broken for a few days with a lack of STEM activity, Tim used the VEXcode GO resources to deepen students’ understanding of the coding they were working on and keep their curiosity and problem solving skills alive.