Now that our consultant meetings with the teachers and students have come to a close, we have now started our PD trainings for our mentors! We are taking four days, four hours each day, to meet with librarians from around Chicago, who are looking to incorporate making, computational thinking (CT), and physics into their library activities. Two of these will be our mentors for the two-week summer program.
We begin each day of PD with team building to set the vibe for the day. One day we included the game “All My Friends”, which involved standing in a circle, saying something about yourself that you think other people would feel represented them, as well (e.g. All my friends that have traveled outside of the US), then moving to a new spot around the circle if that applied to you. The last person to find a spot is the new center who comes up with the next statement. This game really opened up the group and also allowed us to learn about each other in a low stress environment. As we are concerned with cultural responsiveness, it was also a good activity to help us learn the groups we identify with that are not readily visible.
Today, we opened up with a recap of motors and electromagnets (which we went over yesterday) by creating these objects with our bodies! Different people represented the magnets, batteries, switches, wires, etc. It was tough at first but a fun way to start our day as well as recap the functionality of both concepts. We feel that it is important to solidify concepts through embodied actions, visual sketches, verbal conversation, as well as written journaling. By doing this, we hope the information is accessible to all learners by utilizing different modalities.
Our goal of the PD sessions is to introduce the four pillars of CT (abstraction/pattern generalization, decomposition, algorithm design, and pattern recognition) while tying them to physics concepts and making activities that are culturally responsive. This has been a constant struggle for our team to create fluidity between everything! We have been separating these concepts rather than embedding them within one another, which we realized was not the best idea. As we grow as a team, we are trying to be more cognizant of this by modeling academic language throughout the process. For example, we introduce an activity with a visual and explain the components using academic language. Then, while the team works through the activity, we try to target where we see CT and point it out. For example, when we see someone creating a flow chart of their steps, then we know they are understanding the concept of algorithm design (aka rules and instructions), therefore, we would verbalize that so they can associate their behavior with the skill and hopefully embed the two. Following the activity, we discuss the “physics learning” from the activity to tie it all together.
We still have one day remaining of PD and a lot to work on! We hope to empower our mentors to both lead activities as well as work directly with students as they struggle with the concepts at hand. Following our PD, we will be finalizing our pre and post assessments for the students. Stay tuned!