Creating a Custom Curriculum with VEX

VEX resources are designed with educators in mind, to give you all the tools you need to help you plan, teach, and assess in creative and innovative ways. From activity ideas to coding tutorials, VEX seeks to support educators by creating flexible curricular resources that can be adapted to meet the needs and interests of students in a variety of educational settings. This article will help you use VEX resources to bring your curricular ideas to life in your setting.

This article will cover the following:

  • VEX resources to support your teaching
  • Choosing VEX resources that meet your needs
  • Organizing VEX resources to create curriculum

VEX Resources to Support Your Teaching

Educators often find themselves creating, remixing, and reinventing their curriculum to best meet the needs and interests of their students. VEX has designed many educational resources to help make this easier, so that you can continue to teach STEM concepts in creative and innovative ways.

VEX STEM Labs and Activities

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1:1 Pacing Guide pairing V5 with VEXcode VR Activities

At education.vex.com you will find a wealth of teacher and student curricular materials. STEM Labs function as "plug in" lessons that can fit into your existing curriculum. You can also utilize multiple labs in sequential order to create a unique, extended learning experience for your students. The Cumulative Pacing Guides for each platform (123, GO, IQ, V5, VEXcode VR) show potential sequences and connections between STEM Lab Units and various subject areas. The 1:1 Pacing Guides also show various activities that align with each STEM Lab Unit.

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Example of Unit Level Pacing Guide Suggested Adaptations for VEX GO

The labs are aligned to educational standards, and promote collaboration and exploratory learning. Students enjoy hands-on-learning activities that allow them to apply technology, science, math, and engineering skills. STEM Labs are designed with flexibility in mind, so teachers can tailor the lessons to meet their situation and teaching style as needed. Within each STEM Lab Unit, individual Unit level Pacing Guides in some platforms offer suggestions and recommendations for extending or shortening a STEM Lab implementation, so that you can see ways to use parts of a STEM Lab as you see fit.

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Sample of VEXcode VR Activities

Activities offer simple, student facing, one page activities that can support and extend student learning by giving students the opportunity to make their builds and learning their own. Activities can be used in a learning center, as extension activities in conjunction with STEM Labs, or as the foundation for a lesson in and of themselves.

VEXcode Resources

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Tutorials Menu in VEXcode GO

Embedded in VEXcode are resources like Tutorial Videos and the Help to offer educators and students additional resources to support their use of and learning with VEXcode. Tutorial videos are short videos that show and explain a particular concept or process, and can be used as direct coding instruction in a classroom, or to supplement direct instruction for differentiation purposes.

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Sample of the Help for a block in VEXcode GO

Additionally, the Help offers command-specific information and examples to further explain what a particular command does and how it functions in a project. Depending on the age or experience of your students, the Help can be used as part of instruction or support, or used directly by students as they are problem solving or troubleshooting their code on their own.

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Example project menu in VEXcode IQ

Example projects and templates also offer students an opportunity to quickly and easily get started with a project, and then remix or reuse code to make it meet their needs or solve a particular challenge. A variety of example projects and templates exist within VEXcode for each platform.

VEX Knowledge Base

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1:1 Pacing Guide pairing V5 with VEXcode VR Activities

The Knowledge Base is a library of information about all things VEX. The purpose of the Knowledge Base is to help VEX users quickly find information about VEX products, services, or topics. This can be particularly useful as you are creating and planning curriculum, as it can be a resource for teaching, or a reminder for students about practices or processes, like charging a battery or connecting a device.


Choosing VEX Resources that Meet Your Needs

As you are thinking about a particular activity or concept that you want to teach, VEX resources are available to help you in planning and implementing your lessons with students. Begin by identifying an activity or concept that you wish to teach, and the VEX platform that you will use to do so.

Consider the following as you are planning to teach a coding concept or activity:

  • Check STEM Labs and Activities for relevant lesson content. Begin with your chosen platform, but look to others as well, as there may be useful activities or information that can be adapted from one platform to another. VEXcode is common across all VEX platforms, so you may find useful scaffolding or instructional material in a VEX GO STEM Lab for instance, that can also be applied to VEX IQ.
  • Use builds.vex.com to get ideas for potential builds. You may find new builds to try, or something that may pique the interest of your students. You may be able to adapt builds across platforms as well, to create a VEX GO version of an IQ build, for instance.
  • Look to VEXcode VR for coding instruction and challenges. You may be able to use VR Activities and/or the Computer Science Level 1 - Blocks course as part of your coding instruction, for differentiation, or for student practice or challenges.
    • Since VEXcode is common across the VEX continuum, students may be able to use VEXcode VR to test an idea with a virtual robot, then apply that to using a physical robot. In this way, VEXcode VR can expand your coding challenges, and gives another opportunity for differentiation.
  • Check VEXcode for related resources. You can have students watch the tutorial videos to introduce or reinforce a concept. Tutorial videos are available at any time, and can be accessed in VEXcode if students need additional support as they are working.
    • Look to example projects as well, to see if there are any that align with the tutorial video or your coding instruction, that can help students get started with a project. Example projects can also give students an opportunity to remix and experiment as they are learning a particular coding concept.
    • Look to the Help as well, to see how it explains the particular commands that you wish to include in your lesson. There may be useful examples in the Help that you can incorporate or provide for students.
  • Look for related articles in the Knowledge Base. Review any articles about the concept you are interested in, and identify how you would have students interact with this article or the information in it. For instance, will you provide students with the link to read themselves or would you incorporate the information into your instruction?
    • You may wish to have links to articles about things like charging, connecting, or downloading a project, and other frequent reminders or student questions handy for easy access while teaching. You can direct students to an article with steps to follow, instead of having to interrupt a lesson to reteach a process.

Consider the following as you are planning to teach an engineering concept or activity:

  • Check STEM Labs and Activities for relevant lesson content. Begin with your chosen platform, but look to others as well, as there may be useful activities or information that can be adapted from one platform to another. Building and engineering are common across multiple VEX platforms, so you may find useful scaffolding or instructional material in a VEX GO STEM Lab for instance, that can also be applied to VEX IQ.
  • Use builds.vex.com to get ideas for potential builds. You may find new builds to try, or something that may pique the interest of your students. You may be able to adapt builds across platforms as well, to create a VEX GO version of an IQ build, for instance.
  • Look for related articles in the Knowledge Base. Review any articles about the concept you are interested in, and identify how you would have students interact with this article or the information in it. For instance, will you provide students with the link to read themselves or would you incorporate the information into your instruction?
    • You may wish to have links to articles about things like using the Pin Tool, using motors, or other frequent reminders or student questions handy for easy access while teaching. You can direct students to an article with steps to follow, instead of having to interrupt a lesson to reteach a process.

Consider the following as you are planning to teach a concepts or activities that combine coding and engineering:

  • Check STEM Labs and Activities for relevant lesson content. Begin with your chosen platform, but look to others as well, as there may be useful activities or information that can be adapted from one platform to another. VEXcode is common across all VEX platforms, so you may find useful scaffolding or instructional material in a VEX GO STEM Lab for instance, that can also be applied to VEX IQ. The same holds true for engineering themes and concepts as well.
  • Use builds.vex.com to get ideas for potential builds. You may find new builds to try, or something that may pique the interest of your students. You may be able to adapt builds across platforms as well, to create a VEX GO version of an IQ build, for instance.
  • Look to VEXcode VR for coding instruction and challenges. You may be able to use VR Activities and/or the Computer Science Level 1 - Blocks course as part of your coding instruction, for differentiation, or for student practice or challenges.
    • Since VEXcode is common across the VEX continuum, students may be able to use VEXcode VR to test an idea with a virtual robot, then apply that to using a physical robot. In this way, VEXcode VR can expand your coding challenges, and gives another opportunity for differentiation.
  • Check VEXcode for related resources. You can have students watch the tutorial videos to introduce or reinforce a concept. Tutorial videos are available at any time, and can be accessed in VEXcode if students need additional support as they are working.
    • Look to example projects as well, to see if there are any that align with the tutorial video or your coding instruction, that can help students get started with a project. Example projects can also give students an opportunity to remix and experiment as they are learning a particular coding concept.
    • Look to the Help as well, to see how it explains the particular commands that you wish to include in your lesson. There may be useful examples in the Help that you can incorporate or provide for students.
  • Look for related articles in the Knowledge Base. Review any articles about the concept you are interested in, and identify how you would have students interact with this article or the information in it. For instance, will you provide students with the link to read themselves or would you incorporate the information into your instruction?
    • You may wish to have links to articles about things like charging, connecting, or downloading a project, and other frequent reminders or student questions handy for easy access while teaching. You can direct students to an article with steps to follow, instead of having to interrupt a lesson to reteach a process.

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Organizing VEX Resources to Create Curriculum

Once you have identified the VEX resources that relate to the concept or activity that you are building your lesson around, you can plan for how to use those resources in your classroom, to make the most of your learning experience. Creating curriculum in this way is a bit like putting together a puzzle - you have an assortment of pieces, and then you connect them to create the final image, or learning goal. As an experienced educator, you may be used to creating the materials you needed in order to do this. However, all of the VEX resources mentioned here can be used to help supplement the learning activities you want to do. By helping you to save time in planning by using VEX resources instead of having to make your own, giving you more time to bring learning to life for your students.

Consider the following as you are organizing your resources:

  • What is your time frame and/or setting? Is this lesson something you wish to teach in a short period of time, or will it be a longer term unit? Are there any space constraints that you have that might affect your activity?
  • What balance of direct instruction and open-ended or hands-on exploration will your lesson have? Tutorial videos are a great way to minimize direct instruction, to make space for more hands-on learning. STEM Labs can give you ideas for how to guide students through creating a project or experimenting with a build. Activities can give you ideas for more independent student explorations or challenges.
  • How will students be introduced to the concept or project? Will you use the setup of a STEM Lab to help you engage students, or will they watch a tutorial video to begin class? What prior experience can you draw on to help your students make a personal connection to the lesson content?
  • How will students explore the concept or complete the activity or project? What is the challenge? Will you give students an example project to begin with? What will students do with their build to be ready to complete the activity or experiment? Will you give students an Activity to follow on their own, or will you guide them through the experience as a whole group?
    • Also consider how you will support and extend the activity to offer differentiation. The Teacher Notes in STEM Labs, as well as the Pacing Guides can offer information and strategies to support reteaching as well as extension activities. Knowledge Base articles can also be used as additional support for students as they are working.
  • How will you wrap up class? Will you use the Know section of a STEM Lab as assessment? Will you use the Share prompts from a STEM Lab to spark a group discussion? How will students express their voice and choice to share their learning?