At HSE Schools, we are sometimes asked how it’s possible to embed ‘soft skills’ (aka, 21st century skills) into traditional academic work for our youngest learners. We’re asked how we balance the importance of our little ones using real hands-on tools – pencils, paper, printed books, for example – with the incorporation of digital tools for learning.
Teachers are creative souls. Designing cohesive learning experiences – it’s what they love to do! Here’s one example of how Standards, content, and skill development recently came together to make school relevant, meaningful, and fun for some novice readers and writers. Thank you to Mrs. Myers at New Britton Elementary for allowing HSE21 Shorts to learn how to use an Ozobot from your first graders!
Authors write about what they know. Mrs. Myers used STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) inquiry to foster writing. Students explored the workings of Ozobots, then used a design process to create Ozobot mazes. Fresh with new knowledge, the first graders wrote “How-to” books for setting up an Ozobot and sending it through the maze. As students described their design experience in writing, connections were drawn between the recursive, iterative nature of both the design and writing processes. The best part, said the first graders, was sharing their “How-to” books with kindergarteners, so that they could learn to use Ozobots too!
Standards, content, and skills. Mrs. Myers built this project based on her first grade Academic Standards. She chose Ozobots as content, since they were engaging for the students and provided a STEM-rich design experience. As for ‘soft’ skills — this cross-curricular endeavor fostered critical and visual thinking, problem solving and creativity, as well as both oral and written communication.