Over the next few days I would like to focus on each of the tech stations I am currently using. These are each items that focus on technology, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and/or computer science. For the first station I would like to focus on the Piper computer kit, which starts off as a DIY computer but then becomes something much, much more.
DIY=Do It Yourself
One of the first things that will catch students by surprise but also hook them to this station is that they will build the computer piece by piece, wire by wire and more. The piper computer kit comes disassembled, but it includes blueprints that allow student to put it all together.
Sounds good, but how will students learn from building this?
By having this as a station, ideally with three piper computers, you can have three to six students working together. There's collaboration at it's best. With three students they can start of working alone and with a teacher facilitating, can come to the conclusion that they can help each other. With six students, they can pair up, distribute the work load and figure out where they may need to work together. The communication channels that will open between students, especially for those that have difficulty working with other, is something that is beneficial for all content areas.
They put it together, now what?
As part of station rotation, you will have the option to keep students on the station after its been built and then disassemble for future students. This will allow for flexibility to keep students at stations a little longer and keep them focused on this particular station. The other option is that one student or a pair of students can put it together, begin working with the Piper program and as rotation continues students will come beginning with the program. The build aspect could be used to motivate a student who is down on technology, school or is just one of those students who needs that extra push.
They will begin playing Minecraft, how is that learning?
This is where students will actually begin learning about computer science. They will begin learning how circuits work by creating the missing controller needed to move forward in the game. The electronics they are using in real life is represented digitally for them to understand how everything is working.
How can I help redirect my students if they get lost?
One nice aspect of the Piper computer kit is the unit plan that is readily available. It has a breakdown of all the lessons included. It will help to plan out what students can/should cover during their time on station rotation. It will also allow for teachers to plan out extensions for those students that are able to grasp computer science a little easier than others. Here is the link to a PDF copy of the unit plan: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz0GlPie9TdcaF9PY1ZWRXZlRnM/view?usp=sharing
Piper computer kit's strength as part of station rotation
Teachers will be able to track how far along students get with the Piper computer kit by tracking which planets they have completed. Also, another method that can be used is via Hyperdocs. I have created a Hyperdoc to get you and your students started. Here is the link to the Hyperdoc: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Zj-3BX4O134KIGGPT-vsDYJ-qafLirnvPIcQM2ahI4A
Feel free to use it, change it and make it your own. Also, because of how the program is designed, it allows for students to work independently and for teachers to facilitate.
Hi! My name is Jesus Huerta and I help kids find their creativity by making things! Tech comes second and all that jazz. Contact me with ANY questions at firstname.lastname@example.org