Educator Spotlight: Duncan Wilson, Elementary School Principal

"Good curriculum grows through iteration"

August 6, 2015

Duncan-circle

Duncan Wilson
Scarsdale, NY

 

What’s your role?
Elementary School Principal

 

How have you used littleBits in the past?  What’s worked best?
We have been using littleBits in our MakerSpace for the past two years, both with class groups and after-school clubs starting as young as 2nd grade.

 

How do you plan to implement littleBits this fall?
As principal, I look for small projects where I can work with students directly and partner with teachers.  I am planning to develop a set of “challenge” experiences for 2nd and 3rd graders that will help students explore basic circuitry.  From there, I hope to challenge students to create a project of their own design that relates to their curriculum.  The 3rd graders study circuits in science.  The 2nd graders study communities.  My plan is to design challenges that can be completed in 1-3 sessions, either in class or during lunchtime clubs.

 

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What skills do you think your students gain through using littleBits?
Beyond the obvious knowledge of electric circuits, our work with “maker projects” is always chasing four key dispositions that support design thinking and problem solving:

1) Risk taking and resilience

2) Problem visualization

3) Applying knowledge to new situation

4) Collaboration

 

“The iterative nature of design thinking is made easy with the product’s design”

 

What do your students enjoy most about littleBits?
The combination of challenges and immediate feedback.  It is easy to try something, fail, try something else, fail, try something else… until you get it to work.  The iterative nature of design thinking is made easy with the product’s design.  The color-coding is also helpful.  Students begin to see “switches” and “power” as categories.

 

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What’s the coolest invention your students have created with littleBits?
I still love the traffic lights that some second graders made to help power up their cardboard and paper community.

 

What advice would you give to people just starting out with littleBits?
Like all “maker projects,” teachers need to think about prototyping as much a students.  It is very hard to start this work with a full class.  If you can start small, with a group of four or six working on a project that can be completed in 1-3 sessions, you will quickly see what you and your students can do. Just as we tell kids, I remind teachers, it is OK to fail.  Good curriculum grows through iteration.

 

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