Last year, I had this hair brained idea to help promote computational thinking on our campus through the use of mini drones. I went to a training at our central office where there were a few of these cool little devices and we were able to write short computer programs through the Tynker app on the iPads. I remember how completely new and exciting it was for me and wanted to try this with my elementary students.
I was initially able to purchase a couple drones through a donation from DonorsChoose.org and of course, purchased one for myself because I wanted to play too. We learned how to fly and ran some code on the drones, but I didn't have any curriculum available.
Fast forward to this school year. Another grant from DonorChoose.org and we now own 6 Mambo Parrot mini drones. The kids learned about block coding during the hour of code in December and that set them up to start using drones with the Tynker app on the iPads that we have available in the computer lab. We still didn't have any curriculum that I was satisfied with and didn't have time to write my own, nor did we have the funds to purchase the modules from Tynker. The content, however is available from them should you decide to use their lessons and just not do the online component. The plans are GREAT. Finally, through some serious in depth searching; I found something that worked perfectly for us.
This curriculum worked like a champ. There is a scope and sequence at the end, as well as the corresponding lessons. We are a Google district and I use Google Classroom in the computer lab with my 2nd - 5th grade students. Drones will be used with just 3rd - 5th graders, so I set about taking the lessons and creating assignments in Classroom.
This is what the students see in classroom. I have a few more lessons to load up, but you get the idea.
There are videos that have been created that are used in the lessons and they are simple and easy to follow. Any quiz or assessment/knowledge check were re-done in Google Forms, and the challenges were copied into Google Docs. This is an example of how we use this in Classroom. I have my students for 25 minutes twice a week, so this amount of material is plenty for once class period.
The kids at my school are absolutely IN LOVE with this unit. They are completely engaged and excited. Our final project after they learn how to fly remotely, and then code the drones to fly autonomously, there are a series of additional challenges that I developed that use PVC gates for them to fly their drones through, around under, etc. We even have a balloon pop, since you can attach a lego brick to the top part of the drone.
I will get some live action shots of my students flying the challenges as soon as we get them running.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I have.
Bartholomew, Jordan Lynn and Mayo, Russell Scott, "Development of a 4th-8th Grade Curriculum for Flying and Programming Mini Drones" (2018). All Graduate Plan B and other Reports. 1203. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/gradreports/1203
What are these Technology Application TEKS you speak of and how am I going to use them in my classroom?
That's a great question, and the answer for most of us is that we already incorporate these TEKS in our classrooms quite often without even realizing it. If you are using technology in your classrooms in any meaningful capacity, they you are most likely implementing the Technology Application TEKS and just need to notate them in your lesson plans.
Here's a breakdown of the TEKS from the TEA Website. We will also discuss possible ways to integrate technology into your classrooms to implement these TEKS.
The Technology Applications TEKSThe Technology Applications Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) found in 19 TAC Chapter 126 describe what students should know and be able to do using technology. These TEKS are to be used when providing instruction in Technology Applications. The goal of the Technology Applications TEKS is for students to gain technology-based knowledge and skills and to apply them to all curriculum areas at all grade levels. These TEKS are organized by grade clusters for K-2, 3-5, 6-8 with benchmarks at Grades 2, 5, and 8 and organized by courses at Grades 9-12. There are four common strands for Grades K-12: Foundations, Information Acquisition, Work in Solving Problems, and Communication.
Students gain basic skills such as inputting information, beginning touch keyboarding and becoming familiar with the computer. Using technology, students access information that can include text, audio, video, and graphics. They use computers and related technology to make presentations and prepare projects for foundation curriculum areas.
Students use proper keyboarding techniques and acquire information by selecting the most appropriate search strategies. Students use word processing, graphics, databases, spreadsheets, simulations, multimedia, and telecommunications. They solve problems and communicate information in various formats and to a variety of audiences and evaluate their results.
Students become fluent in using multiple software applications and applying them across the curriculum. They build on the Grades 3-5 knowledge and skills. The students continue to demonstrate keyboarding proficiency in technique and posture while building speed. The TEKS can be taught integrated into other areas (such as English Language Arts and Reading, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science), as a separate class, or both.
Students have a variety of options from the adopted courses which allow for growth, specialization, integration into other curriculum areas, and preparation for the technological world. The high school courses in Technology Applications, Chapter 126 include:
Computer Science I, Computer Science II, Desktop Publishing, Digital Graphics/Animation, Multimedia, Video Technology, Web Mastering, and Independent Study in Technology Applications.
Enrichment TEKS Required
RESEARCH AND INFORMATION FLUENCY
CRITICAL THINKING PROBLEM SOLVING AND DECISION MAKING
WEB 2.0 AND TECH APPS
TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION SITES