Case Study: Colonial School District

Sergio Anaya, Curriculum Supervisor

August 4, 2015

Meet Sergio Anaya, Curriculum Supervisor for the Colonial School District in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Sergio works with a number of different grade levels to identify real world problems and use littleBits to invent and prototype innovative solutions. Read more about their STEAM programs and Pro Library experience in this week’s case study.

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littleBits Case Study Submission

By: Sergio Anaya

Organization: Colonial School District

Age Levels: 3rd 5th and 9th – 12th

littleBits Products: Pro Library, Workshop Set, Student Sets

Date: July 2015

 

Tell us about your teaching experience.

Sergio Anaya began his career in the Colonial School District (CSD) as a high school Social Studies teacher and joined the administrative team as a Curriculum Technology Specialist, after which he transitioned to his current Curriculum Supervisor position With a strong background in History, Anthropology and Instructional Technology, Mr. Anaya provides support to curriculum development in Social Studies, World Language, Business Information and Technology, Technology Education, Health and Physical Education, and coordinates the District’s English as a Second Language program. Mr. Anaya is also an adjunct professor in Arcadia Universities School of Continuing Studies. Courses include: Instructional Design for Educational Technology, Digital Tools for Data Driven Decision Making, Using Technology Design Global Collaboration, Design Internet Activities Today’s Class, Leading Schools w/Data Driven Decision, and Introduction to Instructional Technology.

Brian Adams has been employed by Colonial School District for 20 years, having taught second grade, K-3 Technology, and been an Instructional Technology Liaison and Coach.  He holds a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Cabrini College and an Instructional Technology Specialist Certification from St. Joseph’s University.  Brian was nominated as State Level Keystone Technology Integrator in 2005 and participated in their summer summit.  He has also been selected twice as part of the district’s Master Teacher Program.  He has presented sessions on Technology at district, county, and the state levels. These  included many building and district based sessions,  the Learning Connections Conference at the Chester County Intermediate Unit in 2007, as well as three times at the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C).

Sara Frey is the Instructional Media Specialist and Technology Integration Coach for Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. In addition to managing the school’s library program, Mrs. Frey hosts events in the library’s makerspace and provides support for teachers concerning best practices for using technology in instruction. Mrs. Frey has presented at library conferences on topics pertaining to technology, including the Pennsylvania Library Association and the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association annual conferences.  Mrs. Frey serves on two American Association of School Librarians committees for book selections and best practices awards.  She will be presenting littleBits as a technology showcase offering at the 2015 Pennsylvania School Librarians Association annual conference.

What grade levels do you teach with littleBits?

3rd 5th and 9th – 12th (Makerspace)

Which product did you use and what made you decide to choose this?

We have 7 Pro Libraries, 8 Workshop Sets, and 8 Student Sets. We needed each of these sets to integrate into our core curriculum.

Explain how you incorporate littleBits into your program.

The Colonial School District’s STEAM culture empowers students to develop innovative ideas and solve problems in an environment where they can explore, plan, create, experiment and improve. This culture encourages students to be flexible and adaptive to experiences that may span beyond the classroom and across the globe; preparing students for the evolution of tomorrow’s workforce. In the Colonial School District, curriculum drives the use of technology to augment teaching and student learning. Thus, we created a K-6 Technology Integration Curriculum built around five units of study: Digital Citizenship, Coding and Programing, Digital Storytelling, Creating and Designing and Communication and Collaboration to prepare our 4,300 students for success in an ever-changing world.

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We established that littleBits could best support our Creating and Designing unit which provides students the opportunity to generate new ideas, products, or processes while creating original works as a means of individual or group expression. Students are introduced to models and simulations as they explore complex systems and trends by answering the following essential question: How do we use technology to imagine and invent something new? Utilizing the Engineering and Design Process, students are tasked with real-world problems to solve that are differentiated based on ability level:

 

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1: HERE IS YOUR TASK – At times, students find themselves locked out of their classroom or behind the lobby’s security doors. Your principal has asked you to design a solution to this problem. How could a student alert an adult when they are locked out?

2: HERE IS YOUR TASK – At times, there are too many students on a piece of playground equipment. This can become unsafe and students stand around waiting for their turn. You have been asked to create a simple machine that will make the playground safer and allow equal turns on equipment.

3: HERE IS YOUR TASK – Your teacher feels that the student in his/her classroom call out their answers often and it interferes with learning. You have been asked to create a way to show your teacher you have a question, answer, or something to contribute.

4: HERE IS YOUR TASK – Your teacher just received a new set of littleBits and doesn’t know what to do with them. Your principal has asked you as “technology experts” to create a complex machine to show what littleBits can do.

littleBits are used our fifth grade Social Studies unit on Inventors and Inventions. In this unit, students are confronted with the exciting topics of technology and innovation. They learn about some of the most famous inventions and innovations of American History from the period of 1876 to the present. While doing this, they will be challenged to think about, develop and create an invention to improve the lives or standards of living of Americans and how the Inventions and Innovations created changed the lives of people using littleBits.

littleBits are also available in the Plymouth Whitemarsh High School makerspace. The PWHS makerspace is a space for students to gather to invent, experiment, and learn, using technology not found in typical classrooms. In addition to being open during the library’s regular hours, special demonstration and interactive sessions are scheduled for I-Block and after school.

Who were the key people in your organization that made this project possible?    

Sergio Anaya (Curriculum Supervisor)

-Brian Adams (K-3 Technology Teacher)

-Sara Frey (Instructional Media Specialist)

-Dr. Elizabeth McKeaney (Director of Curriculum)

-Kevin Willson (4th and 5th grade Technology Teacher)

-Ken Grimes (5th Social Studies teacher)

-Alissa Moyer (5th Social Studies teacher)

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What worked well?

littleBits are highly engaging and motivating for our students. The littleBits task and challenge cards (found on the lesson page) were a worthwhile introduction to the components and their potential combinations and outputs. We also had success in assigning student roles (reader, finder, maker, task minder etc.) to kept students on task and engaged while using the cards. Students also created concept maps for various components to make real world connections (ie. car alarms, fire alarms, garage door sensors, remote controls). Creativity and design journals were also essential for students to follow the design process and scaffold the necessary stages of the project.

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What was a challenge?

Time constraints were a challenge; in the late spring there were many interruptions due to various activities and schedule changes. We found that students working in teams of six were too large. Teams of four were more manageable and allowed for contributions by all students. We allowed more time for brainstorming and generating ideas stage of the design process.

What has been the response of your students/community?

The students have been excited about this unit. The littleBits, task cards, and design journals were shared at a monthly Parent Workshop prior to PTO meeting with favorable results.  Parents were impressed to see that students were learning concepts with real world applications and higher level thinking. Students have even inquired about purchasing their own littleBits Kits.

How would you summarize what you learned in implementing your littleBits program?

It has been rewarding to see the students so excited to learn and want to participate. They showed excitement when completing the task and challenge cards, wanting to learn about all of the various littleBits components and their capabilities. Using the Engineering and Design process was crucial to provide a framework for my students in the throughout the unit and allow time for reflection, brainstorming, and  thinking. It was exciting to see students put their ideas together and try and come up with creative solutions to their problems.

 

Sawyer, a 5th grader, was inspired by a friend with limited fine motor skills and created an enlarged keyboard using littleBits

 

What are your future plans for littleBits use?

This coming year, we have devoted 4 more weeks to our Creating and Designing Unit featuring littleBits with our third grade students.  This will allow the students to spend more time learning about functions of the littleBits components, how they interact and how to better utilize them for their inventions and solutions. The same amount of time will be dedicated to our 4th and 5th grade units with an expansion of time for our 5th grade social studies unit. We are also looking forward to working with the littleBits Makey Makey bit and introducing it to our 3rd graders.

 

 Thanks Sergio for sharing your schools’ story. We cannot wait to see what comes next!