This post showcases a robotics inquiry project embarked upon by grade 8 students at Langdon School. The striking part about this project is the level of engagement facilitated by the instructional design. In this project students were challenged to work collaboratively to build a robot that could move a load through a “simple machine” obstacle course. Students worked collaboratively with a group of peers in their class and uniquely they also shared a robot with groups of students in other homerooms who they rarely have the opportunity to meet with face to face. The students worked as far as they could during their science block and left the robot for the next class; the challenge became how do you make sure the next group is up to speed, understands the progress that has been made and the rationale for your design decisions and can take up exactly where you left off. Students utilized web tools and several creative solutions (my favorite being an end of class state of the project video message) to ensure successful asynchronous collaborative work. The instructional design of this inquiry masterfully provided for the tenets of UDL, an extraordinary amount of formative assessment and natural opportunities for the development of 21C Competencies.
Universal Design for Learning- Students have the opportunity to learn the content in a variety of different ways (from each other face to face, from the hands on activity, from the video/text/audio left by the other groups, from internet research, from the teacher) and are provided with the choice of media to demonstrate their understanding.
Formative Assessment- Students receive feedback to inform their learning from a variety of sources: from the hands on work itself through trial and error; from the peers they meet with face to face; and from the group members who come to work on the robot when they are in another class.
21C Competencies- authentic opportunities for students to foster the skills of collaboration, communication, problem solving and innovation are paramount in this inquiry.