Exploring History Objectives with Dash: A Year Two Unit

At the end of last year our school purchased a class set of Dash robots, accessory packs and xylophones. I couldn’t wait to use them in my lessons this year and could see clear links to be made between the year two History unit and the technology. In their own classrooms students were studying changes in technology over time. What better way to enhance this topic than to look at advancements in robotics over time and how progress in this field has benefited us? From this idea I devised the inquiry question, ‘How have robots changed over time and how do these changes help us in our daily lives?’

Our studies began by sharing prior knowledge and exploring timelines and types of robots as a whole class with the app Robots for iPad. Over a series of lessons, students participated in a range of activities to familiarise themselves with the Wonder Workshop apps and how to use code to control the Dash robots.

Coding Dash to drive in a square with the Blockly app

Students program Dash to play B.I.N.G.O. In the Xylo app

Students program Dash to play B.I.N.G.O. in the Xylo app

Dash obstacle course challenge in Blockly

For their final challenge and to revisit the question ‘How can robots help us in our daily lives?’, students were required to use their imaginations to visualise the site of an earthquake where a survivor was trapped in a maze of rubble. The challenge scenario explained that the site was too dangerous for rescue crews to navigate and therefore it was up to Dash to save the day. Using the Blockly app, Dash’s first task was to shovel fallen rocks away from the entrance to the maze of rubble. Without touching its unstable walls, he then had to locate and rescue the survivor, carrying them to safety. Upon exiting the ruins Dash was to perform a victory song in the Xylo app, to celebrate a successful mission.

The final challenge

While this was a pretend scenario, some fabulous critical discussions followed, where students applied knowledge gained throughout the term to suggest ways that Dash could be altered in order to help us in a range of real life situations. Throughout the unit it was these types of critical and reflective discussions that cemented students’ learning and made it purposeful.


Sharing Milestones through Green Screen Exploration: A Year One Unit

Over the past term Year One students have worked individually and collaboratively to answer the inquiry question, ‘How can I share important milestones in my life using a green screen?’ Students were introduced to green screen technology through exploration of its real-world applications in movies and television. Then via a series of whole class, small group and individual projects, they applied the digital skills they had gained to demonstrate their understanding of History concepts studied in their own classrooms.

An excerpt from ‘The Dinosaur Chase’, our initial whole-class green screen project.

Students use mini green screens, puppets and storyboards to share three important milestones in their livesStudents used storyboards, puppets and mini green screens to share three important milestones from their lives.

An excerpt from ‘My Important Milestones’, our culminating project: The green screen videos were combined with background images in the Green Screen app by Do Ink.

The big ‘take away’ from my unit with the year one students was not how quickly they picked up the skills to use green screen technology, nor was it how engaged they were in their learning. What impressed me the most was how they were able verbalise in detail, what a green screen is and when and why it might be used in the real world. This to me is a mark of a successful unit, when students are able to see a reason for their learning.


Transforming History Lessons with Twitter

We have recently started a class Twitter feed to extend our classroom beyond its walls and share our learning with the world. The students are so thrilled to upload their work samples for parents, teachers and other classes around the world to see. They excitedly wait to see whether we have any new followers or replies and my inbox is crowded with emails from my students sending me examples of their iPad work to post. They love to hear my laptop “ping”, indicating a new email, and announce matter-of-factly to the class “That was me, just sending you my work for our Twitter”. This latest technological venture for us has brought a new-found sense of enthusiasm to our learning environment.

Last week as part of our History studies we connected with experts via Twitter to completely transform our History assessment. The existing assessment task required students to observe photos of old and new technology and pose and answer questions based on what they could see in the images. I immediately thought of Twitter and the possibility of engaging with experts to answer our questions, and provide us with new information that we could not gain ourselves by analyzing a photograph.

I sourced images of old techology from the Queensland Museum‘s online catalogue and as a class, we discussed our prior knowledge of these objects. Each student then chose an object and created at least three questions about the object, relating to changes in technology over time. I flicked them the image of their chosen object via the Flick app, and in Explain Everything, students used the image to accompany one of their questions. We tweeted our questions to a range of companies and were very pleasantly surprised to see many of them happily answer our queries.

Those companies probably don’t even realise, but they made my students’ days and extended their learning beyond what we isolated in our classroom would have ever been able to achieve. Thank you!