Jill Cooper is a Technology Teacher at McDowell Mountain Elementary in Arizona. Since the fall of 2016, all of the students at McDowell Mountain have been using Wonder Workshop on a rotating basis. In addition, some students use Dash and Dot year round in the Wonder League.
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE DASH & DOT?
I saw them online and fell in love with them. We didn’t have iPads yet, so I asked for the whole package. The PTO is very passionate about STEM, so they bought the robots. The district partnered up and bought the iPads.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS FOR WONDER WORKSHOP?
It was great! Last year was my first year, so I relied on the teacher manual and online support. My sales person was very helpful and we did a Google Hangout at the beginning.
I had all of the materials at my fingertips, I just had to dig through it all. Since I teach multiple grades, I had to have more advanced coding for the older kids and simple algorithms for the younger kids. It was really fun and it went well.
HOW HAVE STUDENTS REACTED TO DASH & DOT?
They can’t get enough of Dash and Dot. The robotics club uses them every week, so I keep them on a cart in my classroom to charge. My other classes are doing our other curriculum and I had to cover the cart with a sheet because when they see them they ask, “When are we going to use Dash and Dot?!”. They love them. They are so motivating.
I have this game called Capture the Kingdom that I found on YouTube. It’s so fun. You set up a grid that you make out of shower curtain and you paperclip playing cards on each grid. Each student is on a side of the mat and that’s their kingdom. They try to get to their Dash to other person’s kingdom while collecting the most high value cards. When they run over the cards, they collect them and add up all the points. They have to use code to do the entire thing. It’s so much fun.
HOW's THE WONDER LEAGUE ROBOTICS CLUB GOING?
This is our first year. The past three years, we used Vex, which is another robotics platform. It’s a little advanced for our PK-3 students. We thought the Wonder League would be a great thing for kids their age to do to learn code and problem solving. We meet once a week for 40 minutes.
WHAT KIND OF PREP WORK IS REQUIRED FOT WONDER LEAGUE MEETINGS?
We have to take care of the iPads and make sure everything is charged, fold up our mats, and occasionally submit photos and videos for submission. During the team meetings, the kids do all of the coding and problem solving. We walk around and see if we can stimulate them to solve their problems.
DID YOU BUY OR MAKE YOUR WONDER LEAGUE MATS?
We have a really generous parent that purchased them on Amazon. I think they’re originally for quilting. They’re spongy and go together like giant puzzle pieces. We drew grid lines and taped the back so they stay together.
WHAT ARE YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS ON DASH & DOT?
They’ve been an amazing classroom resource and keep the students super engaged. I love that I can adjust it for different grades. I’m so happy with the differentiation that they provide.