This article will provide you with resources, guidance, and options to make it easy for you to teach with VEX 123 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 123
One of the reasons VEX Robotics is a great way to organize STEM learning is the collaborative nature of coding a robot. Unfortunately, your school’s guidelines may prohibit multiple students from working together with their VEX 123 Robot in your classroom. However, this does not mean that you cannot continue to teach with VEX 123.
VEX 123 Kits are designed to be an affordable Computer Science teaching platform, so it is easy for you to go 1:1 with VEX 123. Having one kit per student enables you to go 1:1 and facilitate socially distant teaching in your classroom. Or, you can send 123 Kits home with students for hybrid and asynchronous teaching scenarios necessitated by COVID restrictions. VEX 123 Kits have minimal materials and include Coder card sleeves that keep all the Coder cards organized, so students and parents don’t get overwhelmed. The organization of the kit and the ease of coding with VEX 123 makes it accessible for parents to help their students set up and complete projects.
Below are some resources and options that you can utilize, in order to go 1:1 with VEX 123. 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 123 Kit for every student, you can implement 123 STEM Labs where each student works independently, instead of in a group. Visit the VEX 123 STEM Lab home page to see a complete list of 123 STEM Labs and additional teaching resources.
- If you are 1:1 and students can take their 123 Kit home, use the Coder and Coder cards to support distance learning. Have students send images of their Coder with projects loaded to share their work, or ask students to hold their Coders up during streaming class time.
If you are using the buttons on the 123 Robot to touch to code, then you can have students touch to code and take turns starting their projects in your streaming class. See the Using the Coder as a Teaching Tool VEX Library article for more information on how to use the Coder to provide immediate feedback to your students.
- If you are working with VEXcode 123, students can create projects on their computers and tablets at home. See the VEXcode 123 section of the VEX Library for articles on how to install or access VEXcode 123, and how to open and save projects. These articles are easy to follow and can provide instruction so parents can help students set up VEXcode 123 on their computers or tablets at home. Students can take a screenshot or photo of their projects to share their work. Or, they can save their projects and send them to you.
While VEX 123 makes it easy to go 1:1, we know that it may not be possible to acquire kits for every student. The following suggestions provide ideas for teaching with VEX 123 if you can’t go 1:1 or students can’t take kits home.
- Give students printable or digital Coder card images to use to create their projects. Using one 123 Kit, the teacher can then build student projects in the Coder as they are shared, and show them to the class with the 123 Robot during streaming class time. Or, take videos of each student's project and share them individually. You can print this VEX 123 Coder and Coder cards Printable Slideshow for students to build projects without a kit. Or, you can have students move the Coder cards into the Coder right in the slideshow!
- Use 123 Activities for students as out of class assignments in a hybrid setting. Students can plan their projects at home, and test them with kits upon returning to school.
Using STEM Labs & Activities
VEX 123 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 123 STEM Labs VEX Library article.
VEX 123 Activities are fun projects that students can complete with a VEX 123 Kit. Activities are designed to be student-facing, so students can work independently with their VEX 123 Kit. Activities can be used both in conjunction with STEM Labs or as stand-alone activities. They can be used to extend a lesson or to reteach certain concepts. They are also ideal for learning centers, distance learning, or hybrid teaching scenarios. Use the 1:1 Pacing Guide to help you plan for using VEX 123 Activities with your students.
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 123 makes it easy to go 1:1 with VEX 123. The 123 Root is small so creating and starting projects requires little space. Many of the STEM Lab activities can be completed on a single 123 Field Tile. 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 123 Master Materials list to help you prepare your lesson. This list includes materials needed for all 123 STEM Labs.
Prepare areas in your classroom where you can set up several 123 Fields for students to run their 123 Robot. See the Using the 123 Field section of this VEX Library article for more information on how to set up and use a Field with the 123 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 down so they can reserve time on the Field. In this scenario, the 123 Field should be cleaned in between uses.
- Another option is having one 123 Robot that is handled just by the teacher. With this scenario, the students can show their code on the Coder, then you can test their projects in the testing area 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, including Coder cards. If you are teaching multiple classes that use VEX 123, 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 123, or alternate classes so that one class uses only the 123 Robot to touch to code, and the next class can use the Coder and Coder cards. This way you will only have to clean the 123 Robots after the touch to code class.
Additional Teaching Strategies
Once you have a structure for going 1:1 with VEX 123 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 123 STEM Lab has an “Adapting this Unit to Your Classroom'' section that provides ideas for the following scenarios: implementing labs in less time, activities to support reteaching, and extending the unit. Use the suggestions in this section to modify your lessons to support your student needs. See the Using the Pacing Guide in VEX 123 STEM Labs VEX Library article for information on how you can use the Pacing Guide to differentiate your lessons.
- Customize activities to support the focus of your lesson. 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 presentation tools or in your Classroom Management System. See the Encouraging Student Interactions VEX Library article for ideas for implementing discussion and interaction in your classroom.