This article will provide you with resources, guidance, and options to make it easy for you to teach with VEX GO and overcome teaching challenges due to COVID.
This VEX Product Disinfecting Guide provides easy to follow, step-by-step recommendations for cleaning VEX products. This article is based on CDC and EPA guidelines at the time of publishing. VEX Robotics reviewed the chemical interactions of our product materials and the approved disinfectants to create these recommendations.
Going 1:1 with VEX GO
One of the reasons why VEX Robotics is a great way to organize STEM learning is the collaborative nature of building and coding a robot. Unfortunately, your school’s guidelines may prohibit multiple students from working together on their VEX GO robot in your classroom. However, this does not mean that you cannot continue to teach with VEX GO.
VEX GO Kits are designed to be an affordable STEM teaching platform. Having one kit per student enables you to go 1:1 and facilitate hybrid and asynchronous teaching scenarios that are essential with COVID restrictions. However, we know that it may not be possible to acquire kits for every student. Below are some resources and options that you can utilize, in order to go 1:1 with VEX GO. These suggestions seek to support teachers as they bring coding concepts to life in any classroom in any implementation scenario.
- If you have a VEX GO Kit for every student: If you already have, or have just purchased, VEX GO Kits for every student in your class, you can implement VEX GO STEM Labs where each student works independently, instead of in a group.
Distance learning: The VEX GO Kit with Storage is compact and self-contained making it easy to send home and bring back to school for distance learning. The Kit is small enough to fit in a backpack so students can complete GO STEM Labs and Activities at home. The storage system helps students and parents keep track of the pieces and keep them organized.
- Can’t go 1:1 with GO Kits? Use VEXcode VR Activities to extend your coding experiences beyond the coding STEM Labs. Once students have completed all the STEM Lab activities, assign them VEXcode VR Activities. Or, you can start with VEXcode VR to build coding proficiency before working with coding STEM Labs. This 1:1 Pacing Guide shows you how you can use VEXcode VR with VEX GO STEM Labs. (Scroll down to see the VR activities with the Coding specific VEX GO STEM Labs.) See the Get Started section of the VEX Library for articles that will help you prepare your students for working with VEXcode VR.
Using STEM Labs & Activities
STEM Labs are a supplemental educational resource used by thousands of teachers all over the world. Instead of having to create your own lessons and materials, STEM Labs provide free, easy to follow STEM lessons and activities that align with educational standards. STEM Labs function as “plugin” lessons that can fit into your existing curriculum. You can also utilize multiple Labs in a sequential order to create a unique, extended learning experience for your students. For more information on the structure of a STEM lab and for direction in how to implement STEM Labs see the Implementing VEX GO STEM Labs VEX Library article.
VEX GO Activities are fun projects that students can complete with a VEX GO Kit. They are presented in a student-facing document, so students can work independently with their VEX GO Kit. Activities are designed to be used both in conjunction with STEM Labs or as stand-alone activities. Some activities give focus to free building activities, while others use linked build instructions. Activities can be used to extend lessons, or to reteach certain concepts, and are ideal for learning centers, distance learning, or hybrid teaching scenarios. Use the 1:1 Pacing Guide to help you plan for using VEX GO Activities with your students.
VEXcode VR Activities are activities and challenges that students can complete independently with VEXcode VR where they code a virtual robot using a block based coding environment. The 1:1 Pacing Guide pairs STEM Labs with VEXcode VR Activities that have CS concepts in common.
Because lesson plans are a great way to organize your teaching, we’ve provided a lesson plan template and a sample hybrid lesson plan to help you get started. This hybrid lesson plan is an example of how you can use VEX GO STEM Labs with VEXcode VR Activities.
Organizing Your Classroom
Social distancing will impact how your students move about the classroom with their robots. For example, multiple students will not be able to collect their robot or stand next to each other as they test the solution for their coding project within a STEM Lab. Below is a list of options to organize your STEM classroom while adhering to social distancing.
VEX GO Kit with Storage makes it easy to go 1:1 with VEX GO. The storage system allows students to keep their pieces organized and use less space to build their robot. Students can quickly identify pieces in the kit, and only take out the necessary parts for the build. They can keep the extra parts in the storage sections and jewel cases until they need them — taking less space to build their robots. Since you don’t need much space, you can keep kids at their desks and not worry about them spreading out or mixing parts. This small footprint allows students to be socially distanced while working independently.
Have all of the materials at student workstations before class begins. All of the STEM Labs contain a Materials Needed section, so you can identify what a student will need for a lesson before class begins. Additionally, you can use the GO Master Materials list which includes materials needed for all GO STEM Labs, to help you prepare your lesson.
Prepare areas in your classroom where you can set up one or more GO Fields for students to run their VEX GO Robot. In order to facilitate turn-taking in this area, create a sign-in sheet or use the board for students to write their name to reserve time on the Field. Or, you can use an online form and project it in your classroom. Once students have had their turn, they can cross their names off of the list. In this scenario, the Field should be cleaned in between uses.
- Another option is having one VEX GO Robot that is handled just by the teacher. With this scenario, the students can send you their code, then you can test their projects on a Field as they watch. This eliminates the need to clean multiple robots.
- Make sure that you have time at the end of class to clean any materials that the students used. If you are teaching multiple robotics classes, then you may not have time to properly clean what was handled by the students. In this scenario, you may have to stagger classes that use VEX GO and VEXcode VR. For example, period 1 uses one of the options for 1:1 with VEX GO and period 2 utilizes just VEXcode VR. This provides you with time for cleaning. For period 3, you can then go back to using one of the options for 1:1 with VEX GO.
Additional Teaching Strategies
Once you have a structure for going 1:1 with VEX GO in place, you can now focus on implementation details.
Use the Pacing guide to differentiate lessons. If you have limited time or need to reteach, you can use the Pacing Guide in the STEM Labs to customize your lessons. Each coding STEM Lab has a “Making This Unit Fit Your Unique Classroom Needs'' section that provides ideas for the following scenarios: implementing labs in less time, reteaching strategies, implementing in a smaller space, and extending the unit. Use the ideas in this section to help adapt STEM Labs to support your student needs.
- Customize activities to support the focus of your lesson. VEX GO and VEXcode 123 Activities are editable Google Docs that you can easily modify to align with the focus of your lesson or to support the needs of your students. See the following VEX Library articles for details on customizing these resources:
- Encourage student interactions: Regardless of the technology or digital learning platform you are using, engaging students in discussions about their learning and projects encourages them to articulate their thinking, and prompts students to continue to learn from and with one another. Plan ways for students to interact in socially distant scenarios for in-person lessons, and provide ways for students to interact virtually with your Learning Management system or through forums. See the Encouraging Student Interactions VEX Library article for ideas for implementing discussion and interaction in your classroom.