Equitable STEM and computer science opportunities are something that elementary educators have struggled to implement, myself included. We are so focused on our core content areas like math and language arts, that finding the time and energy to implement a computer science program (an area that I do not have expertise in) can seem daunting. BUT it does not have to be! Especially with LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime.
The Hunt for the Perfect Program
When searching for a program that I could implement in my classroom there were a few things that I searched for: accessibility, standards alignment, room for creativity and collaboration, an equitable online experience, and most of all a program that would keep my students motivated and engaged. My minutes in a day are limited and I need to be sure that I am taking advantage of each one.
In addition to this, as much as I love STEM, I do not have a background in coding. My lack of prior knowledge was something that made me hesitant to teach coding. This is why teacher support was a major component for me.
Student success is what drives every decision I make as a teacher. My motto is always to do what is best for my students. In each lesson, I strive to teach in a way that my students WANT to learn and in the ways that they learn best while challenging them at the same time. I pride myself on student engagement and ensuring that students have an interest in what they are learning. The same goes for teaching coding and computer science.
CoderZ Adventure with LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime
We know that 21st-century skills such as creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, design, and imagination are the foundation of student learning. As I familiarized myself with the CoderZ Adventure with LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime platform, I quickly learned that the program reinforced the hard and soft skills that students use across all content areas and will use as they move throughout their life.
LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime gives ALL students access to STEM learning experiences. It also allows students the opportunity to bring their robots to life online. For most of my students, they have had minimal exposure to computer science, which was a concern for me. I questioned if my students would be able to complete the tasks they were given and if they would be engaged due to the uncharted territory. With LEGO® SPIKE™ Prime these questions vanished. My students were able to be hands-on from day one, even if they had little to no coding prior knowledge. However, due to the scaffolded nature of the program, my students with prior knowledge were challenged appropriately.
Teacher Fear, No More!
From a teacher’s perspective, LEGO® SPIKE™ Prime checked off every box that I had and more. It has so much to offer when it comes to interdisciplinary skills and standards alignment. As teachers, teaching something you are not confident in is can cause stress and fear. However, this fear was quickly put to rest as I was able to lean on the teacher guide for support and feel confident in teaching coding.
The program also allowed me to seamlessly implement their curriculum with their teacher guide that included, rubrics, quizzes, formative assessments, and reflection questions (can every curriculum be this teacher-friendly?!). Due to the interdisciplinary skills that students can learn from this platform, I was able to incorporate the program into other content areas like Math and even ELA, rather than just using it in the minutes allotted for STEM.
Student Response to CoderZ Adventure with LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime
Not only did LEGO® SPIKE™ Prime fit seamlessly into my elementary school classroom, but the student response was more than I could have ever dreamed. For many students, this was their first taste of computer science and coding. I know that first impressions go a long way, and I am thrilled that my students have had the opportunity to experience CoderZ.
Many students were a bit hesitant at first since coding is new and unfamiliar. However, once they got hands-on their attitudes completely changed. My students were so engaged and were able to apply skills that they have used in other content areas like problem-solving and collaboration.
Students who struggled in other content areas were absolutely thriving in this setting. I saw a door opening for many students that they did not know existed. There were so many “Ah-ha!” moments each day. They all wanted to share their work and talk about their problem-solving. It was so wonderful to see the fun that they had, it was the highlight of their day, and they got so upset when I told them it was time to stop! LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime really made the difference.