1. Frances Harper
  2. https://francesharper.com
  3. Assistant Professor
  4. Culturally Relevant Robotics: A Family Teacher Partnership
  5. https://crraft.org/
  6. University of Tennessee
  1. Lori Caudle
  2. https://faculty.utk.edu/Lori.Caudle/about
  3. Assistant Professor
  4. Culturally Relevant Robotics: A Family Teacher Partnership
  5. https://crraft.org/
  6. University of Tennessee
  1. Charles Flowers
  2. https://crraft.org/partners/bios/#flowers
  3. Graduate Research Assistant
  4. Culturally Relevant Robotics: A Family Teacher Partnership
  5. https://crraft.org/
  6. University of Tennessee
  1. James Larsen
  2. https://crraft.org/partners/bios/#larsen
  3. Postdoctoral Research Associate
  4. Culturally Relevant Robotics: A Family Teacher Partnership
  5. https://crraft.org/
  6. University of Tennessee
  1. Margaret Quinn
  2. https://cfs.utk.edu/people/margaret-ferguson-quinn/
  3. Assistant Professor
  4. Culturally Relevant Robotics: A Family Teacher Partnership
  5. https://crraft.org/
  6. University of Tennessee
  1. Tabatha Rainwater
  2. http://tabatharainwater.com
  3. Graduate Research Associate
  4. Culturally Relevant Robotics: A Family Teacher Partnership
  5. https://crraft.org/
  6. University of Tennessee
  1. Hannah Thompson
  2. https://crraft.org/partners/bios/#thompson
  3. Graduate Research Associate
  4. Culturally Relevant Robotics: A Family Teacher Partnership
  5. https://crraft.org/
  6. University of Tennessee
Public Discussion

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  • Icon for: Tabatha Rainwater

    Tabatha Rainwater

    Co-Presenter
    Graduate Research Associate
    May 10, 2022 | 09:16 a.m.

    Hello. My name is Tabatha Rainwater, and I'm a Graduate Research Associate and 2nd-year doctoral student in STEM education at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Frances Harper, PI, Dr. Margarette Quinn, Co-PI, Dr. Lori Caudle, Co-PI, Darelene Greene, Co-PI, Dr. Amir Sandovik, Co-PI, and the CRRAFT Partnership are in the first year of promoting computational thinking and a sense of belonging in robotics through pilot testing a classroom & at home pre-school culturally relevant robotics program.

    We are a LARGE partnership with six classroom teacher leaders, six educational assistants, seven parent leaders, two school administrators, a district-level preschool instructional coach, two non-profit community partners, six graduate students, four university teacher educators and researchers, and eight undergraduate assistants. 

    We're in the 1st-year of a three-year project and still figuring out how to efficiently organize the logistics of our large partnership while also co-constructing a culturally relevant robotics curriculum. 

    Let us know what you think. And please share any insight or questions you have about:

    (1) large research-practice partnerships: teachers, parents, community, and university

    (2) culturally relevant robotics with preschoolers

    (3) children's sense of belonging in computer science.

  • Icon for: Kathy Renfrew

    Kathy Renfrew

    Facilitator
    Education SPecialist
    May 11, 2022 | 09:06 a.m.

    Hello

    You defintely left me wanting to know more. i am very excited that we are beginning to think about equity even with our youngest learners. In the video it looked liked the children and teachers that were supported were in a school building. I am wondering if you have any thoughts about bringing your program into daycares as many states do not have free, accessible preschool programs. I loved hearing the views of the teachers and I would love to see his program widely implemented but I am wondering about is the cost for implementation of your program. What is the intial cost? I am also thinking the robots will need to taken care of and then the cost of replacements. I am just wondering about the practicalities that go with implementation.

  • Icon for: Frances Harper

    Frances Harper

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 11, 2022 | 12:51 p.m.

    Hi Kathy. Currently, we are working with two public, Title I preschools, but as we consider scaling up, we have considered how our program might move into other spaces (e.g., Head Start, day cares). A big part of our program is also the at-home component. We are currently in the pilot year, so we have been trying out different robots and other "low tech" materials to figure out what works best in both classroom and home settings. Activities are designed in ways so that they could be used with different robotics toys or without any technology at all. All of that is to say, there is a not a fixed initial cost. Some of the robotic toys we use cost around $30, and other cost around $200. So initial cost could be adapted to fit the capacity of a particular educational environment (e.g., day care, home, classroom, etc.).

  • May 10, 2022 | 06:21 p.m.

    I love your project with its emphasis on computational thinking and culturally relevant robotics. I think the points made in the video about how the learning goes back into the home and connects families with schools and content and builds shared understanding, meaning, and language is so very important if we are to sustain new ideas for teaching and learning in schools. Can you share some of the components, specifically of the culturally relevant part of the robotics program, that you have integrated? Also, what do you think led to an increase in persistence in these young learners -- was it repeated problem-solving over time? Love to hear more!

  • Icon for: Tabatha Rainwater

    Tabatha Rainwater

    Co-Presenter
    Graduate Research Associate
    May 10, 2022 | 06:59 p.m.

    Karen Page,


    Thank you for your response and questions. Similar to your project example with feral cats, we are using contexts important to the daily lives of the children in the classrooms we are working with. Our partnership has parent leaders conceptually co-developing projects with us. Our parent and teacher leaders are developing culturally relevant robotics with us. 


    Through co-collaborative and design efforts, we have four focal experiences that children do across their home and classroom environments. The at-home focus experience aligns with the classroom experience. Currently, children are engaging in computational thinking focal activities with control structures.


    So, one pre-school culturally relevant activity for control structure is for families to engage with the idea with their groceries. When a child finishes their favorite snack, bologna, for example, families are talking through the "if-then" loop "if we have more bologna, then we get it out of the fridge, else, we add it to the shopping list." The key part that makes it culturally relevant, at least for the at-home component, is the parent leaders sharing their big idea experiences with other classroom parents. 


    --My expertise is in integrating the at-home components of the program. I will ask my colleagues to speak for your second question, persistence in problem-solving. 

  • May 10, 2022 | 07:12 p.m.

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. I do understand more now, the examples help me see it. I really think work you are doing with the family component is crucial. When families are 'disconnected' from content and from learning strategies (i.e. PBL, student-directed inquiry, etc) that are different from their own experiences as learners, they do not always support the work because they don't understand the goals or its value. A gulf can often exist between the changes we are trying to make in schools, and what goes on in the home. Best of luck with your work!

  • Icon for: Lori Caudle

    Lori Caudle

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 10, 2022 | 07:13 p.m.

    Hi Karen, 

    Thank you for reaching out about our program with interest and great questions. While we haven't implemented child assessments that show us direct links between the program and preschooler's use of problem-solving for our pilot year, I can speak to what we have noticed through ongoing classroom observations and discussions with teachers and educational assistants. First, we integrate problem-solving throughout each phase of the program through authentic and familiar ways. These problems are problems that may exist in typical daily life and involve "unplugged" activities and conversations. They then transfer that knowledge into their work with the robots as the program moves along. In Phase Two, children engage in the design process which encourages them to problem-solve. As they move into Phase 3, they are building structures that require problem-solving over time. Typically, preschoolers in public school settings are not given the opportunity to problem-solve across more than one or two lessons or experiences (using the same materials and within similar contexts). Through project work and open-ended experiences, this program allows them to do this. I do think the consistent opportunities over time to engage in problem-solving in authentic experiences that are child-centered is what has contributed to this increase in problem-solving. Further, our program spans across play-based learning, small group, and large group within the classroom. We have noticed the importance of the open play time where children can apply the problem-solving strategies that are often introduced in small group activities. 

  • May 10, 2022 | 07:28 p.m.

    So interesting, thanks for the further explanation. I have done coding with very young children, but I did not have a chance to see problem-solving over time although some of the benefits such as stepping backwards, trying again, trying a new path, looking for errors - all of this resulted in deeper critical thinking and slowing down in order to be more successful in general in coding but also other disciplinary work. I look forward to hearing/reading about your results.

  • Icon for: Lori Caudle

    Lori Caudle

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 13, 2022 | 12:53 p.m.

    Yes! This week, the teachers shared again how they are seeing the children transfer knowledge gained into other classroom activities and learning experiences. We hope to begin understanding more about how this happens. I do think our program has helped teachers advocate for more ongoing, project-based learning experiences in their classrooms, which is what children need and deserve. 

  • Icon for: Margo Murphy

    Margo Murphy

    Facilitator
    Science Instructor
    May 10, 2022 | 07:02 p.m.

    I was really engaged in the clips that showed the technology and the testimonies of the teachers.  Can you provide any insights into what you chose for technology (costs, accessibility etc) that make it accessible to a diverse community?  Also, how students at that preschool - early elementary engage with it?  I was so inspired by some of the teacher testimony and would love to know more about the student engagement part.

  • Icon for: Tabatha Rainwater

    Tabatha Rainwater

    Co-Presenter
    Graduate Research Associate
    May 10, 2022 | 07:17 p.m.

    Margo Murphy,


    In the summer of 2021, we pilot tested various at-home technologies, robotics games, and no-cost and screen-free robotics activities with our parent leaders. Through frequent, regular, and informal communication with parents during the curriculum design phase of the project, we took their direct and indirect feedback as valuable insight. We paid attention to subtle details shared, if parents said they did not engage with a specific item, we listened. 


    We also learned, with our teacher and parent partners, that certain technologies are best to be used both at home and school, other technology support learners more when used apart. 

     
    2
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kaci Fankhauser
    Margo Murphy
  • Icon for: Lori Caudle

    Lori Caudle

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 10, 2022 | 07:24 p.m.

    Hi Margo,

    I think one component that makes our program especially accessible is how each phase included activities that are not technology-based. We stress how the powerful ideas in computational thinking can be taught through "unplugged" activities, often with very few materials or those you can find relatively easily around the house. We are also providing the materials on our website in ways that teachers and families can hopefully find useful. Many of the lessons and books are built from open access materials. We have found the code-a-pillar to be quite expensive, but the Botley is a relatively affordable option. The coding mouse is also relatively affordable in comparison to other robots. In terms of engagement, the young children engage with the technology in both structured and unstructured ways. This includes parent and teacher-led activities as well as play experiences. We have found that the Kibo is the favorite robot for most of the participating teachers so far, but is quite expensive.

     
    2
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kaci Fankhauser
    Margo Murphy
  • Icon for: Latrenda Knighten

    Latrenda Knighten

    Facilitator
    Mathematics Content Trainer
    May 10, 2022 | 11:26 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your project. I could hear the enthusiasm in the voices of the teachers who shared their experiences with the project.  It was amazing to hear the teacher of 4- and 5-year olds say how she was surprised to see her students doing things that before the project, she didn't think kids that age could do.  I especially like that there are so many community partners in your culturally relevant project.  Could you  describe some of the components you incorporate in the project to address culturally relevant pedagogy? I think it's impressive that you've found a way to incorporate culturally relevant aspects in the robotics project for young learners. I'm also always interested in family engagement strategies.  What are some of the activities you use to engage families in the learning process? What role do parents play in the teacher-parent partnership?

    Thanks again for sharing.

  • Icon for: Tabatha Rainwater

    Tabatha Rainwater

    Co-Presenter
    Graduate Research Associate
    May 11, 2022 | 09:26 a.m.



    Latrenda Knighten,


    I love your questions! I will focus on answering the family engagement strategies. On the mathematically gifted and black website, you share your joyous experience created for you in third grade by your parents with the orange logic book at the scholastic book fair. Your experience closely aligns with the tenants' core to our work. Parents are the foundation for our culturally relevant robotics at-home components. From my perspective, our PIs and Co-PIs strategically placed (me-Ph.D. student) a university partner, former local teacher, community member, neighbor, and mother to three small children as the parent-leaders point-of-contact for the university partners. In the curriculum design phase, we worked closely with our parent leaders and took up their at-home practices and suggestions. We are intentional consistently remind parents, "You are the expert in how families take up robotics at home." And we believe this. Within our university research team, I am the voice of the parent leaders. I (we) have a trusting, safe relationship with each of our parent leaders. For example, our kids go to the Y together and I often see parent leaders at the grocery store. 


    When we meet with our parent leaders, we discuss the powerful ideas of robotics, algorithms, debugging, design, etc. and from the beginning, as we are "playing" with the powerful ideas with technology together, we have learned together. This was our first year, and while I have a background in teaching math, I am no expert in preschool robotics. So, the families learned with us (or me?). We were not prescribing ideas, we learned them together.


    Equally, we pay our parent partners equitably for time, with the expectation that childcare is not free and not always easily accessible, there's an agreed-upon and respected understanding that (our) their status as parents is a critically needed source of knowledge.  


    Our parent-leaders are involved in planning and designing the activities for at-home culturally relevant robotics from the ground up. We meet with parents and teachers together when schedules align, as a development tool for the curriculum. No activity (at home) goes onto our website without first the ideas coming from the parent-leaders, pilot-tested by the parent-leaders, and improved by the parent-leaders. For each new at-home activity, our parent leaders facilitate an afterschool family night for classroom parents to hear about at-home activities directly from the parents that designed them. 

  • Icon for: Latrenda Knighten

    Latrenda Knighten

    Facilitator
    Mathematics Content Trainer
    May 11, 2022 | 03:51 p.m.

    Thanks for your prompt and comprehensive response!  (Thanks for your comment about my third grade experience - I can still picture that orange book.)

    After reading your response, I've fallen in love with your project all over again!  The intentionality of the decisions made in your project and the important role parents play speaks a lot about your decision process.  You guys are addressing identity and agency for parents and children in a big way! I especially appreciate that you guys compensate the parent partners for their time.  I hope eventually you are able to expand this project to more communities - I feel as if it would be beneficial to many.

    Thanks again!

  • May 11, 2022 | 09:09 a.m.

    Wow what an amazing project ... I love the inclusion of families and would love to learn more about how you draw on and collaborate with families to make decision. Also where does one find these cute robots?

  • Icon for: Tabatha Rainwater

    Tabatha Rainwater

    Co-Presenter
    Graduate Research Associate
    May 11, 2022 | 10:25 a.m.

    Hi Eva, 


    We collaborate with families frequently, formally and informally, and regularly, similarly to AMME, Academic Mothers in Math Education. If we have planned co-collaboration times coming up, we informally ask parents what they want on the agenda prior to having it fully planned. In a local peak of covid, when we needed to make large decisions quickly, it was normal for parents and me to text multiple times a day, and at times that worked well for us. IE: after school drop off, waiting in the school pick up line, after putting kids to bed, etc. Cute robots on amazon. :) keywords, "Kibo robot, code-a-pillar, Botley, robot mouse."

  • Icon for: Nick Kim

    Nick Kim

    Post-Doctoral Research Associate
    May 11, 2022 | 10:45 a.m.

    Great to see the progress made on this project, I love the teacher testimonials in this video!

  • Icon for: Hannah Thompson

    Hannah Thompson

    Co-Presenter
    Graduate Research Associate
    May 15, 2022 | 11:29 a.m.

    Thanks so much Nick! We so appreciate your input! 

  • May 11, 2022 | 03:04 p.m.

    Congratulations on your work! It's always exciting to see educators who realize that computer science has a place in classrooms with very young children. We had a very lucky and unexpected benefit from COVID in our robotics project. We partner education and engineering students with 5th graders to design, build, and code bio-inspired robots. Prior to COVID this happened in an after school technology club. When COVID hit, the club transitioned online. This meant our education, engineering, and 5th grader students all built robots in their homes and collaborated via Zoom. As a result, the family members at home were able to get in on the action in a variety of ways. For several of my preservice teachers, their own small children got intrigued by the robots their mommies were building! (There are some fun examples of this in our video!) As a result, my education students were sold on the idea that children as young a 3 years old can learn about coding and robotics. Our combined efforts can help diversify engineering and computer science! 

     
    2
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Frances Harper
    Tabatha Rainwater
  • Icon for: Frances Harper

    Frances Harper

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 17, 2022 | 12:59 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing about your project! I loved the video. Your work with children and families in their homes will serve as a great inspiration as we think about accessibility with scaling up. 

  • May 11, 2022 | 09:18 p.m.

    This is really wonderful. Did you publish the results already? Could you share them?

    Thanks!

  • Icon for: Frances Harper

    Frances Harper

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 12, 2022 | 07:14 p.m.

    Hi Victor. We are just wrapping up our pilot year, so we'll be working on more analyses and publications this summer. So far, we've done some presentations and published a bit our the preliminary work. We'll update this page as publications become available: https://crraft.org/research/.

  • Icon for: Ashley Coon

    Ashley Coon

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2022 | 02:05 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your work!  I loved hearing from the preschool teachers, and appreciated their honesty in sharing their initial hesitations while expressing obvious enthusiasm for the project.  Also excited to hear that the students are making connections in other content areas and in their home lives.

    My team has discussed which robots would be most appropriate for our younger students (K-2).  Which tools have been the most intuitive for your preschool participants?

  • Icon for: Frances Harper

    Frances Harper

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 12, 2022 | 07:17 p.m.

    Our teachers love the code-a-pillar as an initial introduction to sequences, but that seems to be discounted. The other main robots that we use in the classroom are the code-and-go robot mouse and KIBO. Teachers found that the mouse was a bit too abstract for some of the students, but most of our parents found that the mouse worked great at home. Because of the cost of KIBO, we're currently piloting Botley at home with families. It has some of the same control features that KIBO has. 

  • Icon for: Brooke Coley

    Brooke Coley

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2022 | 06:12 p.m.

    Tabatha,

    Such an amazing work. I would like to know little more about the pedagogical instructions that teachers provided to their students while fostering computational thinking. Would you please mind sharing little bit of the instructions and materials that students were given? 

  • Icon for: Frances Harper

    Frances Harper

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 12, 2022 | 07:24 p.m.

    Hi Brooke. Some of our materials from the pilot year are posted here: https://crraft.org/crr-program/. That includes both at school and at home activities. You can get a sense of some of the instructions and materials we provided to teachers and parents. We'll be updating the site over the summer as we do additional analyses and revise the program.

    Overall, however, we encourage a play-based approach. In particular, we follow the "playground vs. play pen" framework in our approach advocated by Bers in Coding as a Playground (2019). So we provide some structure, but encourage open play. 

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Charles Flowers
  • Icon for: Tabatha Rainwater

    Tabatha Rainwater

    Co-Presenter
    Graduate Research Associate
    May 12, 2022 | 07:25 p.m.

    Brooke, 


    Thank you. I will defer to my colleagues on this question, I am primarily invested in the at-home components. My answers would only brush the surface of what others can answer. 

  • Icon for: Lori Caudle

    Lori Caudle

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 17, 2022 | 01:17 p.m.

    Hi Brooke,

    I am glad you are interested in the pedagogical components of the program. Many of our materials are open-ended, and what we refer to as "loose parts" in early childhood education. We strive for teachers to implement project-based learning and also meaningful small and large group instruction that involves child-centered activities where children can have ownership over their learning and the "products". In terms of instructional strategies, we stress the importance of revisiting concepts again and again with more depth as time goes on. We also introduce concepts, such as debugging, in both more formalized settings, such as small group activities, as well as in informal routines or play-based experiences. We find that some teachers really enjoy the small group instruction while others seem to lean on the play-based learning times. For the first year, we have really encouraged teachers to pick and choose from the phases. As we move forward, we plan to have a series of activities that will be implemented across all classrooms and then some that can be optional. This will help us identify how the program is impacting both pedagogy and child outcomes. 

  • Icon for: Kathy Renfrew

    Kathy Renfrew

    Facilitator
    Education SPecialist
    May 13, 2022 | 12:00 a.m.

    I’m back again thinking about how I would love  my grandchildren to be in the program . After reading I think your intentional work with parents has helped them trust you. They you value what you are learning from them. I’m interested in this point in your project what questions do you all still have. What are your wonderings

  • Icon for: Frances Harper

    Frances Harper

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 17, 2022 | 01:01 p.m.

    Hi Kathy. I think a big question and wondering we have is how to ensure that what we're doing is sustainable, especially as we bring in new teachers and families into the program. We're also wondering how to capture some of the impact of the program that our parents and teachers describe, especially the things that go beyond computational thinking. 

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