On August 11, 2017, Elon Musk took to twitter to proclaim: If you're not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea."
As I work to weld technology into the classroom experience, I do sometimes wonder how much longer my actual existence in the classroom will be necessary for some of my students.
This week we used robots (specifically this robot) to reiterate the importance of transitions in written language. Starting with the premise of "they use transitions all the time in spoken language--how can I tap into that innate usage," I wound up using the robots to put them in a situation where the organic speech mechanism could be tapped.
First, students were given a task list of commands and space at the bottom to write a five sentence explanation of the dance they designed for the robot. The commands in scratch are very demonstrative ("Forward 50 normal," Turn Left 90," and "Turn to Voice").
The sentences pretty much write them selves because of scratch's user interface.
"First Sadie turns to the let and right. Then, she stops. Thirdly, she goes backwards and forwards. After that, she turns left and right again. Fifth she looks up, left and to the right. Next she says hi and neighs like a horse. Finally she repeats it all once more."
It's easy to see how they used the computer programing as a scaffold for the structure of their writing.
This year, I had them write paragraphs and then turn in video tapes of their robot's dance. Next year, I'll probably change that to having parallel boxes on a worksheet. On one side they paste a picture of the code and on the other side they write out the movements. This will allow an easier comparison between programing language and expository writing.
The next few days, we read articles about robots in the classroom and about how the role of the teachers and robots is one that is changing rapidly. After checking for comprehension of the materials via written summaries and quizzes, students are prepped for working on the group essay about robots in the classroom next week. (This will be our exemplar essay that we write as a whole class--unique to each class and its ideas).
When we get to the graphic organizers in two weeks, our work will harken back to this lesson as we examine the structure of the expository essay using the shapes of the blocks for the transitions (that we'll use to make their essays run logically like code!).
I really enjoyed doing this lesson and the students' work speaks for itself.
First Nemo said Hello. Then, he moved forward, backward, and looked up. After that, he impressed us with a light show. Finally looked left two times and did a little dance.
I'm an 8th grade English teacher in Bellevue, Nebraska, and I'm excited about technology in the classroom.