I will admit it; this lesson is not for the faint of heart. As an educator, I'm used to a certain level of chaos in my classroom. This level of chaos was very close to my limit, but as Kami and I skated close to that edge, I saw an excitement and engagement level in my students that was both refreshing and exhilarating.
The lesson plan was simple enough. After playing with the drones over the weekend with my sons, I felt I had an okay handle on their functioning. Specifically, I could turn them off and on and generally make them function.
Then, on Monday, we started with this lesson. Below is a simplified outline. If you click on the picture of the chart, it will take you to the Google Document with hot linked resources that I used in the lesson.
The lesson was whole-heartedly enjoyable and I was amazed by how many objectives we were able to hit with our discussions and our experiences. The ones that namely stood out were:
LA 8.1.6.i Construct and/or answer literal, inferential, critical, and interpretive questions and support answers with explicit evidence from the text or additional sources
LA 8.1.6.j Apply knowledge of organizational patterns to comprehend informational text (e.g., sequence/chronological, description, spatial, cause and effect, compare/contrast, fact/opinion, proposition/support).
Most remarkably every single objective for LA 8.3 and LA 8.4--(Communication and Media Literary) was repeatedly woven into every aspect of the lesson.
What would I change? Extra batteries for the drones is the easiest fix to the limited time the flyers will run. For our Parrot drones, we were getting about 10 minutes from fully charged to won't fly anymore. They needed at least 20--30 minutes on charge to restart the cycle. Two sets of batteries would solve this problem.
The other thing is that I would work harder to understand the battery aspect of the project before getting in to the classroom. That was a bit of a crash and burn as on Tuesday, our drones failed to charge Monday night (the cart was not plugged into the wall--ops) and one of the drone's top time was 50 seconds (for two classes). I solved this by combining groups to work together on single drones. It was not ideal, but it was effective as everyone could still do their jobs in turns.
I was astounded by their teamwork and their ability to work in both their group and combined groups. The dynamics were powerful and interesting to watch. The regular classes were all self-chosen and group decided. I was fascinated to watch which kids waned which roles and who stepped up to lead the groups.
And here I need to have a BIG shout out to the awesomely amazing Mallory Peterson @malpete1010 our H.A.L. educator extraordinaire. She created the incredibly gorgeous safety presentation linked below. I'd also love to point out that Phillip Loomis @TeachLoomis helped dropping off equipment on the fly when we had trouble with the batteries and needed a backup plan! What a rock star team!
Finally, I need to thank Aaron Maurer @coffeechugbooks. Aaron is an Instructional Coach at Bettendorf Middle School. Aaron's article "The Top Five Unexpected Benefits of Robotics in the Classroom" from 2016 points out a great group of benefits that the students were able to infer and pinpoint due to the lesson. Thanks, Mr. Maurer!!
This had to have been one of my most successful projects in recent memory.
I'm an 8th grade English teacher in Bellevue, Nebraska, and I'm excited about technology in the classroom.