Yesterday, we were asked to come up with a lesson plan using one of the maker kits that we explored the previous day. The first thing our group did was choose a kit, which was apparently mistake number 1. Mistake number 2 came when we decided to create a lesson about circuits that revolved around that kit. We soon learned that even though we thought we had a great idea…we did not. We soon learned what Mishra and Koeler stated in their article “Using the TPACK Framework: You Can Have Your Hot Tools and Teach with Them, Too” (2009. p15) was true “Repurposing these cool tools for educational purposes, however, is not simple”.
Eventually we figured out that we needed to start with the content that we wanted to cover. We decided to go with addition at the first grade level, because it would be easiest for the other two people in my group to adjust to their grade level. Then we needed to come up with a problem “What is addition”. Once we narrowed this down, we had to then integrate our Squishy Circuits kit into the mix. We decided to create a game that had addition problems with a choice of answers. The students would choose an answer by touching a probe to it. If it lights up its correct. If it doesn’t, it’s wrong. Here you can find the entire Lesson Plan.
After reading, receiving some feedback from my peers, and reading the TPACK article I mentioned above, I realized some things I needed to change in order to improve my lesson. First, I looked back at the Common Core Standard that we used (content), and realized that what we were looking for, really didn’t go with the standard. The standard talks about using fluency and the strategies used to add. Since these first graders are new to addition, I realized I needed to make some changes. Fluency is something that comes with practice, so I chose to focus more on strategies. I wanted to see what strategies the students were able to come up with on their own before I taught them.
Since strategies are not always something that you can see, I needed to make sure I went around to ask questions in order to “see” what they were thinking. I also wanted hold them accountable and make sure that guessing wasn’t one of their “strategies”. This also gets them to think more about their own thought process, which something that increases their understanding. Once all of the students finished playing the game, I wanted to bring them all back to one group in order to share what we found. I asked the students if they were able to find anything that worked for them, AND if any of them tried strategies that didn’t work. Giving them the opportunity to share what they found, lets them take ownership of their own learning.
Below is a rough example of what the game would look like. If you notice, there are dots under each possible answer. One dot completes a hidden circuit under the board, and the other does not. The dot that complete the circuit is the correct answer, and will light up the lightbulb in the top left corner. If the light bulb does not light up, then the answer is incorrect.
I definitely realized that you need to start with content before getting excited about the technology that you’re going to use. The technology is just a tool that is used to help teach and enhance the learning experience. You wouldn’t get a hammer and ask yourself “Ok, what can I hit with this?”; so why get the technology ready first?
Please take a look at the new and improved Maker Faire Lesson Plan.
Mishra, P. & Koehler. M. J. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Using the TPACK framework: You can have your hot tools and teach with them, too. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(7), 14-18.