My tech coach and I collaborated on a lesson this week after conversations with our PE teacher, and classroom observations about teamwork, or lack thereof. As we are still early in the first semester, eight-year-olds need lots of guidance on how to work together effectively. My class is also learning about graphing right now and I wanted to try a lesson with graphing the random colours that flash on a Sphero when you code it. Some of the reasons I wanted to do this were:

  1. Introduce the Sphero for future use in class and build student engagement
  2. Facilitate and build specific collaboration skills as it has been an area of concern in the class.
  3. Continue working towards our graphing objective of collecting, organizing and displaying data.
  4. ISTE standard for students 5b and 6a as students were choosing the platform to display and create their data. 


(Split-screen that we used for the whole lesson)

The lesson began by displaying a split-screen. I had the luxury of spending an hour on my own with Kath Murdoch two years ago when she visited my school and we talked about the importance of using split-screens to help students “inquiring into the how”  and to really understand from the get-go the “what” and “how” of the lesson. 

Students beginning to plan

After unpacking the vocabulary in the split-screen the students brainstormed ideas and skills that they would need to complete the question in the yellow box.  The class was divided into groups and asked to break down the task into parts and come up with a plan.  

Coming back to the objectives

We quickly came back together to talk about what worked well and what didn’t in regards to collaboration skills and added these to the split-screen. Then the class was sent back to their groups to continue with the planning or coding. Eventually, through experimentation, taking turns, and watching their peers the students figured out the code to make the Sphero change colours randomly, but it was too fast, so they had to figure out how to put in a delay as well.   

Students using their plans to begin coding

Presenting their learning

In previous classes, I have taught them to use Sheets to create graphs so they tend to gravitate towards a digital platform to create things as neatness is not their strength at the beginning of Grade Three. I think that the technology tools enhanced the experience of graphing here as the could quickly see professional-looking graphs with little effort, the students were also able to insert an image of their code in their learning journal post to create a great visual of the work they did. In their post, they reflected on the IB Approaches to Learning skills that they used and talked about how they cooperated and worked together as a team.  

(Screenshot of student Learning Journal Post)

Collaboration mapped

Matt and I used another tool to help us facilitate collaboration and the awareness of how we work together. It was my first time using the Equity Maps application. I really liked the way that the students could see visually how often or infrequent they talked.  It gave them a goal to work on something to continue with for the rest of the lesson.  

(Screenshot from Equity Maps)

We just used this for the planning stage and it would also be interesting to have students use it as well when they are in larger groups to help manage themselves. I purposely put them in groups of 3-4 with only one iPad to force them taking turns and this was an effective strategy (although some groups did need reminders not to grab) but I did find that this helped the students to talk more in class even during a technology-rich lesson. 

The students were very proud of their accomplishments at the end of this lesson. They are interested in finding new things to do with the Spheros, they began to use language associated with positive collaboration and enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of the lesson. We will revisit how to develop a plan in more detail next time we run a lesson similar to this structure and continue using split-screens in class to help the students recognize clear goals.