EDUCATOR's VOICE (VOLUME VIII - PAGE 40+)
"Educator's Voice is NYSUT's journal of best practices in education - a series dedicated to highlighting research-based classroom and school/district-wide strategies that make a difference in student achievement."
At Ditmas Intermediate School 62 in Brooklyn, technology teacher Angelo Carideo and David Liotta, a social studies and media studio teacher, set sixth graders off on a mission to build team robots with viable programming and color sensor capacities. Their collaborative teaming makes this Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-infused robotics project thrive. Students work, communicate, and collaborate in teams to accountably produce a functioning robot. They later showcase their robots and present their work at a multi-project Writing Institute Expo run by Rose Reissman with the support of fellow Ditmas educators Liotta, Carideo, Amanda Xavier and Sofia Rashid.
Reflection journals — student portfolios and artifacts — were especially beneficial to ESL students as they learned to express themselves in English using academic language. CIT (Collaborative Integrated Teaching) classes could work on argumentative pieces to defend their robot as the best challenge solution. The more verbally outspoken students could lead the way, while those with an Individualized Education Program used sentence frames to contribute their argument details.
In their small groups, the students focused on how to interpret these special 21st century words into ongoing writing assignments and discussions. Before breaking up into small groups, a large group team meeting focused on the project objectives. Throughout the process, students take notes for their journal entries and, with personal comments, can reflect on the team’s progress as a whole. Some students enjoy recording, while others “voice” the material. Some illustrate or draw cartoons.
Excerpts from students’ written work and discussions (voiced in formative and summative assessment journal responses) demonstrate powerful learning outcomes.