Pilot programs kick off this week!

3 Jan

And so it begins…

Today I managed to recruit eight 7th grade students to meet with me after school twice a week for the next two months to begin exploring our new LEGO NXT kits. We are currently in the middle of an activity cycle that does not end until early March, but a few students were enrolled in a program that ended early. As they had not yet been rerouted to other activities, I was given an opportunity to try and recruit a few from the group to be my NXT pioneers.

Initially, they all sat glazed over and totally unimpressed with my pitch. If I didn’t know better, I might have given up. Luckily, I know better.

I thought “Just keep smiling, laugh when they say something truly funny, don’t take their disinterest personally or yourself too seriously, and keep building  your case.”

To build my case, I proclaimed my nerdiness.

I said, “Look you guys, here’s the deal. I’m a big nerd.”

I waited.  The looks came and then a few laughs.

And then I said, “Yep, I’m pretty nerdy and I’m totally proud of it. In fact, I highly recommend you all consider joining me in freeing your own inner nerd. Here’s why.”

I then listed off a few reasons why loving math, science, school, arts and technology has benefited me over the years including the fact that I had access to cool gadgets, that I got to collaborate with with smart, funny people, that I was often offered opportunities that my co-workers weren’t, and that I could always seem to find work even during difficult times. I mentioned the fact that nerds, myself included, often live comfortably on their salaries. I hinted at the potential for college scholarships and I didn’t forget to mention that in addition to “nerding out” I also loved to play sports and music.

Pretty soon I saw smiles peeking out from under hoods and from behind ipods and next thing I knew… the entire group had their hands up and volunteering. Kids are so cool.

Make it mean something and their closed doors open wide.

I’m not saying they were jumping up and down with excitement, in fact a few still looked utterly disinterested, but I’m not worried. The fact that they were willing to give the program a shot is a step and I’m grateful for their willingness to leave their comfort zone and take that step.

So, we will meet this Wednesday for our first official meeting. Now, I just need to decide how to ease them into this… Feel free to send ideas. 😉

On another note, this Thursday I will finally get to put our LEGO WeDo kits in the hands of first graders.

We are going to pilot with the first grade using this model:

Every Thursday, I will model a lesson with the first group of first graders. The elementary tech teacher, and a support team member from Education Works will observe and assist. On Friday, I will swap roles with the tech teacher. He will teach the same lesson with the second group of first graders and I will act as support. Friday, we’ll debrief and reflect. We plan to film as much as possible to aid in reflection.

The current technology teacher has taught middle school in previous years and I’m hoping to provide support by modeling a few early elementary classroom management strategies, as well as how to use inquiry at the elementary level to improve the depth and complexity of the students’ learning.

Wish me luck! It’s a big week. I’ll be sure to fill you in on how it goes.

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