For many students, navigating a sea of new subjects or concepts can be overwhelming – especially when they’re STEM/STEAM-related. It’s so easy to experience doubt, anxiety, and low self-esteem when approaching a new idea or project for the first time. Struggling to process this information can be discouraging, which leads to fear and shutting down.
So as an educator, how can you build confidence in your budding engineers? Use littleBits to teach valuable STEM/STEAM concepts and to increase self-reliance and confidence in the learning process!
Here are 5 tips to help you guide your students through the learning and inventing process without being afraid to try a new idea, task, or concept. And as a bonus, they’ll totally have fun with littleBits, too.
1. Provide students the chance to choose their own learning path. If you’re planning a hands-on lesson, give the class a choice. The pathway each child chooses might be different, but the learning outcome is the same. Perhaps some learners can elect to make a remote-control Bitbot, while another set makes a moving poster, or a student can engineer a buzzer or teach a small group how to make a flashlight.
2. Create a space that promotes positivity and acceptance. Inventing should be a positive experience – whether a kid experiences success or setbacks. As the educator, you can provide immediate, supportive, and constructive feedback to all of your new and experienced inventors. Take this a step further and add to the inventing experience by creating a classroom or library gallery for the invention they made and encourage your students to help and provide feedback for each other.
3. Encourage students to take their inventing skills to a new level. Creating something new always has some risks. There might be successes or failures, and that’s okay. Monitor your imaginative class by having them complete invention logs, follow reflective journal prompts, and engage in collaborative learning with their peers. This also helps students who feel discouraged because they’ll be able to see their progress all year long.
4. Design lessons and activities that are approachable. Many kids want to learn how to code, but may think that learning scientific theories and algorithms is out of their capacity. Of course it’s not true! Introduce them to low-stress, fun coding activities and games. Instruct curious and budding coders to learn while playing – incorporate the littleBits Code Kit into your coding unit plans and they’ll build games – and their own confidence.
5. Check in with your class and individual students regularly and often. By doing regular check-ins, from simple questions to more formal evaluations and assessments, you’ll be able to reflect on how well you’re reaching the entire class and individual learners. Some children open up more in one-on-one meetings and reveal their struggles and concerns even if they act confident during a whole-class lesson. When you learn how your class learns individually and in a group, you can build on different aspects of their confidence and skill sets.