My Favorite Collaborative Lesson: Facts, Opinions, and Robots

Opportunities to collaborate can happen anywhere as long as you are listening.  One of the best places to listen is at lunch.  If you have an opportunity to eat with various grade levels you can make connections that would not be possible otherwise.  The following project came from a lunch conversation with a second-grade teacher, a great book, and a few robots.

Grade Level: 2nd Grade

Overview

At lunch, a teacher shared that she would like to change up her introduction to the facts and opinions unit.  While listening to the team talk, I suggested that the book Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex might be a great option.  As we brainstormed a bit more we were able to come up with three lessons that included reading and discussing the book.  Then we had students write their own facts and opinions and share those using the Dash robots. 

Lesson 1: Identify Facts and Opinions

Objectives:

  • Explore/Think V.A.1 – Read widely and create for a variety of purposes
  • Inquire/Grow I.D.3 – Enacting new understanding through real-world connections

Materials: 

Activities:

  • 3 min: Show students the cover of the book.  Have them share what they see, think, and wonder about the story.  Have them share what they already know about facts and opinions. 
  • 12 min: Read the story aloud and discuss what is happening throughout.  
  • 15 min: Explain how to complete the Fact and Opinions Page.  Have students choose a topic.  Brainstorm a few ideas together.  Then have students create one fact and one opinion about that topic.  For example, if the topic is a dog.  The fact could be there are many different types of dogs.  The opinion could be that a dog is the best pet. 

Assessment:

  • Students will have chosen a topic and written one fact and one opinion about that topic.

Tips & Tricks: 

  • If you have the opportunity to partner read the book with the classroom teacher it works well.  Each robot has speaking parts that allow you to make the story more engaging for the reader. 
  • It is helpful to model how to complete the Fact and Opinions Page.  I usually have it completed ahead of time and show students the final product.  To avoid students just copying my ideas I usually chose a topic that they would never pick such as doing the dishes or eating broccoli. 

Lesson 2: Record Facts and Opinions

Objectives:

  • Collaborate/Think III.A.2 – Develop new understandings through engagement in a learning group. 
  • Inquire/Create I.B.3 – Generate products that illustrate learning

Materials:

Activities:

  • 2 min: Review the difference between facts and opinions.  Pass out the student’s Fact and Opinion Page from the first lesson.

    Students work together to record their facts and opinions using the Blockly app.

  • 10 min: Walk students through the steps of how to record using the Blockly App by Wonder Workshop.  You will have to model how to connect to the Dash robot, making sure they select the correct bot.  You will have to show students how to create a blank project.  Then show them how to record using the sound tab and click on my sounds.  They will need to make sure that they save their recordings.  We tell students it is like they are teaching their robot their facts and opinions just like in the book. 
  • 18 min: Give students time to record and make sure their recordings are saved properly. 

Assessment:

  • Students will record both their facts and opinions using a Dash robot and the Blockly app. 

Tips & Tricks: 

  • Make sure that the Dash robots have been charged before the start of this lesson.
  • For most of my students, this was not the first time that they had used Dash.  Lessons 2 and 3 may require more time if students need more explanation on how to use these robots. 
  • My school is fortunate to have enough Dash robots so that students can work as partners. If you do not have as many robots you could have them work in groups of three or four.  
  • Students will have to use the same robot for both lessons 2 and 3 since the recordings stay with the robot.  It is a good idea to name your Dash robots so they are easy to identify.  You can have students write their robot’s name on their Fact and Opinion Page so they can remember it for Lesson 3. 
  • If you plan to complete this lesson with more than one class you will need to consider having them use different numbers when recording or having additional robots available. That way they do not record over another student’s facts and opinions before that class is finished with the project.

Lesson 3: Code Your Facts and Opinions

Objectives:

  • Explore/Create V.B.1 – Problem-solving through cycles of design, implementation, and reflection. 
  • Explore/Share V.C.3 – Collaboratively identifying innovative solutions to a challenge or problem. 

Materials: 

  • Dash Robot used in Lesson 2
  • Two different colors of tape
  • Blockly App

Activities:

  • 2 min: Remind students what was completed during the second lesson.  Place two pieces of tape on the floor.  We like to use two colors of duct tape.  Place one color on the floor as the start and the other color as the finish.  The start will be where students share their facts and at the finish, they will share their opinions. 

Using two different colors of duct tape as a place to start and stop.

  • 8 min: Model how to create a program to share facts and opinions using the Blockly app.

    Remind students that they need to determine which way their robot will face before they begin.  

    • Place the robot on the piece of tape you are using for the start.  
    • Explain to students where the front of the robot is and how the direction it is facing will matter for their code to be successful. 
    • Tell students that their goal is to get their robot from the start to the finish.  The only requirement is that they must share the recording of the facts at the start and the recordings of the opinions at the finish. 
    •  Since they are working with a partner there will be two recordings at the beginning and two recordings at the end.  
    • Show them how to make their robot move forward, backward, or turn using the drive tab.  You can have them add a bit of fun with the light and animations tab too. 
  • 20 min: Give them time to work with their partner and create their program.  Monitor each group and help students to get started. 

Students added the recording of their facts at the start and opinions at the end of their program.

Assessment: 

  • Students will create a program using the Blockly app that shares the facts and opinions they created. 

Tips & Tricks: 

  • Keep your explanation short to allow for as much time for students to create their code as possible!  
  • If possible, have the tape ripped ahead of time so it is easier to pass out quickly.  
  • Keep your path simple!  Keeping the start and finish pieces of tape closer together will make the project more manageable in the timeframe provided. 
  • Have students focus on successfully getting their robots from the start to the finish and adding in their recordings before adding extra elements like lights, animations, or additional sound effects.  I usually tell them to add those in at the end.  
  • If they finish quickly have them move their pieces of tape and try to create a new path. 

After the project was completed the homeroom teachers and I talked about how we felt it went.  We thought that the students were engaged throughout and that they had a good introduction to facts and opinions.  The teachers liked adding coding to the lesson and thought it was a good way to teach multiple skills.  We plan to use the Dash robots again in the future! 

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Author: Kelly Hincks

I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).



Categories: Community/Teacher Collaboration, Technology

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