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Resourceful Learners are Par for the Course

Today, we had a wonderful collaboration with our friends at Swanson.  Kate and Angela wrote a great post about the day that you can read here.

Sphero Golf!

If you have not explored Sphero Balls, today is the day to check them out! Sphero is a robotic ball that pairs with your iPad or Smartphone. Using a variety of apps, you can manipulate the ball's movement through coding, programming, or a simple finger swipe.

My big takeaways from the day were the following

1) Do have your Spheros fully charged before hand. We ran out of juice on a few.  So, a couple of groups had to call it quits and join others a few minutes before our scheduled end time.

2) Do set up your Spheros to pair with a specific device.  When you have 12 Spheros in the same space at the same time it’s important to make sure you have a system. Spheros pair via Bluetooth so they remember their previous connections.  The more Spheros you use with a device the more it will automatically pair with.  I’ve run into the issue many times where we’re trying to pair a Sphero but it is already paired with a different iPad that’s in the cart that had it in it’s memory. Quite frustrating! So try to set up a system of you have a set of devices and set of Spheros.

3) Keep calm and turn Bluetooth off and then on. That was a quick fix for losing connectivity with our Spheros.

4) You can never have enough Spheros! We had 12 for our activity today. It was great to see the collaboration among the students.  But, I can just imagine what it would have been like if we had even more!

5) Sometimes free exploration is better than a set list of steps.  When students get their hands on technology, what is exciting to you may not be the path they want to take.  There are so many different opportunities for “play” with Sphero different aspects will resonate with different students. Don’t limit their options.

6) Updating your operating system on your device will lead to a better experience.  The older iPads we brought from the high school lost connectivity quite a bit. But the newer iPads at Swanson worked like a charm.

7) Baby steps are key.  When using the Lightning Lab app, we probably should have taken a few steps back.  Rather starting with the coding block right away


We probably should have worked with the drawing option.


This would have been a much clearer entry point to the activity of tracing the polygons on the floor.  Then learners could have graduated to the coding blocks on a different day.

8) Sometimes golf is enough.  There is no reason why we couldn't have had all students golfing the whole time. The golfing did not seem to get old from my perspective.

9) Only a fool thinks the timing will be perfect.  It started with a bus that I though was late for us but was just parked on the opposite side of the school. Then we had snow on our way to Swanson.  We ended up arriving 20 minutes later than expected.  But, Kate and Angela were calm and helpful. I was met with an Americano and adults asking how they can help. That's what a true collaboration is.  It happens at the level of the teachers and the level of the learners.  It's a beautiful thing to be a part of. It takes a lot of effort to pull of an event like this but when I know I'm coming to my friends at Swanson, I know I'll be in good hands.

10) I am always impressed with how adaptable students are to new situation.  Like I just said, we had a few bumps in our road to perfection. As an adult I find myself getting rigid and feeling a sense of defeat when something doesn’t go as planned.  My students are quite the opposite.  They were offering up suggestions for modifying the plans when we reached stumbling blocks. They are the ones who help reduce my stress.  If personalized learning is learners being able to take the reins out of the hands of the teacher, these students are ready to drive the train.

It’s days like these that make me realize we our future is in good hands.  When these students see a problem, they don’t give up. They find solutions by themselves or through collaboration with their peers. We are a week away from the end of the term.  My physics students will be moving on to new classes. I'll miss the group that came with me to Swanson today. 

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