Use of Props for Robotics Related Writing

We are doing  the Lego WeDo Adventure Stories unit in third grade.  This unit integrates with language arts, particularly writing.  Students write in a number of different formats (plays, interviews, logs) with their adventure robots as the setting and impetus for the writing.  We started with the Airplane Rescue robot.  By the book, the robot changes engine speed and makes a different sound when it is tilted up or tilted down.

I like the tie in with creative play, STEM, and ELA.  We had the students build the robot and make the basic program and them asked them to start acting out a story.  We watched the Lego supplied story/video in the Activity Pack and I also had the kids make up story collectively.  An interesting decision point came up on how much to allow (or now) the kids to make additional props for their story.  At first, we said yes, but then noticed that the focus had changed in some of the groups from writing to making all kids of props.  Ideally, in my view, the props would support the story.  What I worried about was making props from the limited WeDo parts that would then dictate and limit the story.  What would you do?

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2 Responses to Use of Props for Robotics Related Writing

  1. I think you have to try it out with your students and see how they react. I could imagine some students (likely boys) who would carried away with the building and write less. Others would not let that happen as much. The teacher has an influential role here, giving indications on how much writing (quality/quantity) is desired, when the building is goving over board, etc. In addition, if the WeDo pieces limitation is considered a problem, you could supplement. In my case, we will probably buy a couple of the WeDo supplementary pieces but we also have many of the old Mindstorms kits (basically not being used since we transitioned to NXT) so we are moving some of those pieces to the WeDo collection (in supplemental boxes so we do not have to give access to them). My experience with WeDo is mostly on the simple machines side, not on ELA side so this is supposition, not experience-based. Thanks for sharing! Wayne

  2. We ended up gently focusing them on writing if it appeared that the prop building was turning into the goal without regard to the story. The teacher also provided a prewriting paper to help focus the writing. Thanks for the ideas, Wayne! Also, I have but did not use the resource kits. I plan on using them for the open ended challenges. Have not even opened them yet. It will be interesting to compare the open ended challenges with and without the extra pieces.

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