Teacher Feature & Student Showcase: Robot Rally at MDHS

I had the pleasure of attending a Robotics Challenge hosted by Michelle McDonald and her students at MDHS last week. Kids spent the day coding robots and participating in a series of obstacle course challenges. You could feel the excitement and the buzz in the air as students collaborated to solve problems, applied critical thinking skills and strategies, and persevered to achieve their goals. Here’s what a few competitors had to say…

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I asked Michelle to share her experience…

In the fall, my grade 8 class worked in groups to built and code Lego EV3 robots.  As a culminating activity, the students designed a Robot Olympics.  Each group designed a creative challenge, organized materials, and figured out how they were going to run and score the challenge.  The Robots Olympics were a great success!  The students not only learned how to code a robot, but they also learned how to problem solve their part in running this event.
20170424-144639.jpgAfter the Robotics Olympics, several of my students continued working on coding the robots and attended D&D Automation’s Battle of the Bots.  While at the event, my students thought that they would be able to run a robotics competition for other teams at our school.  When we got back to school, the students went directly to the office to ask if this could happen, and happily, we were encouraged start planning!  We introduced the idea to the rest of the class, and they were excited to get started.  The class worked together to plan which events to include, what to call the event, and how to schedule the event.  We started organizing by thinking about all the jobs that needed to be done to organize this event successfully, and students dove into organizing their part of the event.  These jobs included making challenge boards, creating score charts, calculating how much pizza was needed, designing t-shirts, and making signs and posters.  My class has been working all year to fundraise for the Right to Play PLAY programme, and they decided to sell treats at the Robot Rally, so this became part of the event organization.
On the day of the event, several students arrived at school before 8am to set up the challenges, tables and chairs, and to hang directional posters around the school.  When the teams arrived, they were greeted at the doors my my students and the rest of my class were at their stations and answered any questions.  Two of my students were MCs for the event and the rest of the class judged the challenges, did the scorekeeping and answered questions at the information desk.  Thanks to the planning done before the event, the Robot Rally ran very smoothly!  Robots were following lines, going through a maze, identifying colours, and sumo wresting.  It was exciting to see all the teams in their school jerseys excitedly showing off the results of all the coding they had done at school in preparation for the event.

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At the end of the Robot Rally, when all the teams left, my students returned to the classroom and were very proud of the event that they had coordinated.  I don’t think they realized the magnitude of what they had just done!  They didn’t just organize this event, they worked through all the issues and questions that came up at their stations and were completely engaged all day.  My students even cleaned up and packed up at the end of the day without a lot of direction.  I am very proud of the students in my class for organizing an event that allowed so many students from all over our board the opportunity to work collaboratively on their coding and problem solving skills!

If you are interested in integrating coding into your classroom program, but don’t know where, or how to start, please contact me! #EveryoneCanCode

Reposted: Mirror your Computer on to your iPads


NOTE: I recently learned that although TeamViewer is free to download, in order to use TeamViewer in your classroom there is an expectation that you purchase a license. Please contact TeamViewer about acquiring an individual license if your school is interested in using this service.

You may be thinking… but I have Air Server??? Remember that Air Server allows you to mirror the content on your iPad on to the computer that is connected to your SMARTBoard. TeamViewer allows you to mirror what is on your computer screen on to one or more iPads, tablets or Chromebooks. So why would you want to do that?

I had the pleasure of connecting with Tracy McPherson-Zachar, Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/ Itinerant Teacher of the Blind and Low Vision for AMDSB. She has been looking for a solution to support the children in her care who require a “close-up” copy of the texts they are reading. Tracy and I spent the afternoon experimenting with TeamViewer, which is a free app that allows you to project what is on your computer screen on to one or more devices in your classroom. Of course as Tracy and I talked further I couldn’t help but think if it’s good for one, how might others benefit from this kind of technology?

We all have students who require preferential seating close to the front of the room in order to meet their learning needs. TeamViewer makes it possible now for those students who used to need a “special seat at the front” to interact with text no matter where they are in the classroom.

If you would like TeamViewer downloaded on your computer, you must first purchase a license. Your next step would then be to ask your TRA to submit an eBase request for the install. All that’s left for you to do is download the app on your iPads and follow the on screen instructions to get started.

If you have any questions, or would like to share how you are using TeamViewer in your classroom, please leave a comment below!



Create Your Own Google Custom Search

Jennifer Cox recently published a post on her Tech Tips blog with instructions explaining how to create your own Custom Google Search. Creating your own Custom Google Search works in 2 ways:

1. You and your students can add a Custom Google Search to your own website making the search for content more efficient.


2. When conducting research, you can use a Google Custom Search to set your own search parameters and help filter out unnecessary or irrelevant content. Bottom line… custom searches make searching your own website, or a collection of websites, even more efficient.

How is Custom Search different from Google Web Search?

You have the option to set your custom search engine to search the entire web, similar to a normal search on Google.com. However, you might notice some differences. Your custom search engine:

  • Emphasizes your results over anything else on the web
  • Doesn’t include some Google Web Search features, such as personalized results
  • May have a subset of results from the Google index if you include more than ten sites

Thank you Jennifer for creating this Custom Search Resource!