Pilot - U6L01 - Innovations in Computing

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We are in a small very conservative community in South Central Idaho so when I went through this lesson I previewed some of the suggested sites and they appeared to be great sites for the students to find new innovations. But…I had one student that found there was a sexual activity tracking condom on one of the sites (wearables) and he asked if he could use that as his innovation. I promptly said no and he giggled. I was lucky it was this student because he is pretty easy going and it probably didn’t shock him. Some of my students it would have been mortified. I’m still waiting for a call from a parent, school board member etc. :slight_smile:
I let them have the class period for research but told them if they didn’t finish they needed to take it home as homework. Because of testing it was a week before I saw this class again. Some had forgotten it but handed it in the next class period. They found some great innovations.

@benkathy thanks for letting us know. We’ve heard in other places in the curriculum that once we link out to the internet similar issues arise. Do you have any recommendations for how best to mitigate these issues (e.g. other websites you send kids to)? Glad to hear that otherwise things went well.

I am teaching unit 6 to students that have not had a computer science course before. With this activity, the students showed both awe at the many areas where computing devices are found and uninspired about researching any of the technologies. I found better responses from the students by providing them with one of the examples from the given websites. Also, I provided a set of questions to be answered from the site.

This lesson took two days for us to complete. We finished it up today.

I did a lesson similar to this with one of my other classes where students have to research come up with a product to solve a problem in school, research what is out there, design a product, create an advertisement and then design it for the 3d printers.

The issue that I ran into here is that students jumped into research looking for something to create rather than looking at what is out there (I hope that makes sense). One student was looking at 3D printers rather than the manufacturing as a whole. He was really struggling in his research because he wasn’t sure what to research exactly.

On day 2, I started off emphasizing the idea that they are looking for innovations. We ran through the worksheet as a class looking at wearable devices, and specifically smart watches. The students were to write down anything and everything new that they were finding. There was also the issue that students didn’t really see smart watches as innovative because they have been out for 2 or 3 years. There was almost this idea that step counting, reading text messages on your watch, and touch screens were old news. I had to point out that these were new technologies and worth acknowledging on their paper.

Overall, I think the lesson was good. I really like the video from code.org, and my students also loved it.

@kenneth2_williams and @Russell - It sounds like both of your classes struggled on the research part of the activity but overall liked looking at inventions or technology when it was shared with them. Do you think the research part is something worth keeping or is there another way to get students investigating these things? Should teachers curate ahead of time some gadgets for students to looking?

Oh, I absolutely think that students should be doing research. I think that a lot of the issues I had came from the students progression from Unit 3 to 6. There was a go go go mentality in 3, with students actively creating new things. Making the students slow down and look at things, especially only for a day or two, is a major shift for students, but I think a good one.

It’s possible that reviewing applab then doing research might help with the progression, but I also haven’t done unit 5, so the transition might be easier coming from that. I also wonder if I should have had a greater class discussion first. For instance, I was a lot more successful on day 2 when I went back and modeled the research with smart watches.

Class size: 37 students
Grade Level: Ranging from grades 9 through 12
Location: Hollywood, FL

This lesson came up in the middle of testing season which ended up displacing the usual classroom location and cutting the class time from 90 minutes to 45 minutes unexpectedly. I chose to show the class the first of the two videos in the lesson plan to motivate their research and our discussion of technological innovations. Due to testing, I did not have the chunk of time I expected to view the video before the school day started. The video was a little bit longer than the videos that had been shown earlier in the curriculum. The students got a little anxious halfway through.

Throughout the first half of the school year, I had instigated a “show and tell” moment in class every Monday. We called it “New Technology Monday”. The standing assignment was that you had to come into class on Monday with some new-to-you piece of technology to share with the class. The caveat being that in order to share, you also had to explain how this innovation either helps or hurts your local community. Because of this, the research and subsequent conversations and journaling were smooth. If the class had not been doing that for the first half of the year, it might not have been that smooth.

Transitioning directly from the gamelab lessons in Unit 3, this provided a great transition to get the students thinking about their creations as products that could affect the world around them. I would strongly suggest considering doing this during the first half of the year and (of course) make time the morning of each lesson to preview those videos…

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