TEACHING TRAILBLAZERS

Teaching Trailblazers are innovative early childhood educators who are using robotics in interesting ways with young children.

SPECIAL EDITION: Check out these five innovative Teaching Trailblazers and see how they have used robotics in creative ways!

Cory Roffey, Edmonton, Alberta

Lynne May Lim, Medford, MA

Alex Lianne Carter, Calgary, Alberta

Dan Riles, Manchester, MA

Randie Groden, Medfield, MA

Who is our Trailblazer?


Cory Roffey


Learning and Technology Coach, St. Pius X Elementary School, Edmonton, Alberta

Why our trailblazer?

Working as a teacher for the past 15 years, Cory has collaborated and supported his fellow teachers as they innovate their teaching practices and integrate technology into all curricular areas for their students. Primarily working with children from Pre-Kindergarten up to 1st grade, Cory works as a Learning and Technology Coach by working with all of the teachers to explore innovative teaching practices that deeply impact student learning. This year, specifically, Cory has been working to integrate robotics into multiple subject areas and grade levels.

What was the process like for integrating robotics curriculum into the classroom?

Last spring, Cory and his students explored the numerous early childhood technology tools and chose KIBO as an excellent fit for the 'Early Learning Classrooms' (Pre-K to 2nd grade). A few months later, Cory introduced his students to KIBO through exploration of the robots, sensors, and coding blocks. After the students became comfortable with working with KIBO, Cory created ways to use KIBO to strengthen "21st century competencies" such as: collaboration, communication, problem solving, and multiple literacies.

Why KIBO?

Working with numerous Kindergarten and 1st Grade teachers, Cory brainstormed ways in how to foster cooperation and collaboration skills using KIBO. For example, Cory states, that the teachers noticed that not all of the students had their hands and minds fully engaged as they programmed KIBO. Cory and the other teachers worked to create 'KIBO Job Cards' where each student took the responsibility for specific tasks when programming KIBO. Cory plans to move forward and explore curricula through KIBO. He has begun to think and plan with teachers around the idea of using KIBO to explain "non-standard units of measurement in mathematics, or retelling a story and using KIBO to explore social skills and to tell social stories". Cory expresses that using the robotics technology has a positive impact on computational thinking, problem solving, digital literacy, expression of ideas, cognitive and mathematics skills, literacy skills, and higher order thinking with the added bonus of being fun and engaging to help children learn in innovative ways." Great job, Cory!

Who is our Trailblazer?


Lynne May Lim


Head Teacher of the Kindergarten classroom at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School, Tufts University, Medford, MA

Why our trailblazer?

Lynne May has been working at the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School for two years. She currently works as the Head Teacher in the Kindergarten classroom. She is preparing the robotics and engineering curriculum with her students. Her students played an obstacle course game in which each child performed a series of tasks in a specified order. When Lynne May told her students that they all just performed a set of instructions, one child called out, “We were just like KIBO!”

Why KIBO?

Lynne May’s kindergarten students are very interested in robotics technology. The notion of robots excites the students and sparks their curiosity and imagination. Their first introduction to KIBO was through a group of DevTech researchers from Tufts University, who have left a positive impression about robotics and programming on Lynne May's students. Lynne May imagined different possibilities when integrating robotics curriculum into the classroom. She expressed that she was not afraid to work with robotics that she did not know much about. Quoting Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series, Lynne May was willing to “get messy and make mistakes” so that she could learn along with her students when exploring KIBO.

What was the process like for integrating robotics curriculum into the classroom?

Lynne May first introduced the robotics curriculum to first graders using Lego WeDo kits after attending DevTech’s Robotics Institute in the Summer of 2012. Lynne May and her students love that robotics can be integrated into all curricular areas by thinking creatively. She plans to integrate KIBO robotics into the social studies curriculum. For example, she and her students read about Wilma Rudolph, who was the first woman athlete to win gold medals at the Olympics games and will then program numerous KIBO robots to run a relay race. Lynne May, we cannot wait to see what you and your students do!

Who is our Trailblazer?

Alex Lianne Carter

Director of Educational Technology and Innovation, Calgary French & International School, Calgary, Alberta

Why our trailblazer?

Alex has been working at the Calgary French & International School with students from Pre-K to grade 12. Through generous donations, Calgary French & International School received KIBO kits for all of the ECE classrooms as a part of the Classroom Giving Catalogue. In December, the students used KIBO robots during Hour of Code by exploring the basics of coding and programming.

Why KIBO?

Alex plans to use KIBO at the junior Kindergarten level for open ended play and exploration. Alex and the teachers will look for opportunities to connect KIBO to the children's existing interests and skills, and to push students' critical and creative thinking. Additionally, in the Kindergarten classrooms, KIBO will also be used for free play and exploration as well as being integrated into curricular areas such as: Language, Math, Science, and Social Studies objectives.

What was the process like for integrating robotics curriculum into the classroom?

The early childhood department at the Calgary French & International School believes strongly in learning through play. Alex expresses that the KIBO kits tie in very well with the learning-through-play philosophy that guides our early childhood division, so the integration was relatively easy. Her students were able to dive right in and guide their own learning, at their own pace. Alex explains that the focus for the early childhood division is always on finding and using the best possible tools and toys to facilitate learning, and "the KIBO kits are beautiful, well-made, appropriate for little hands, and they are aligned with developmental recommendations around young children and technology!" Alex, we cannot wait to see what you and your students do at CFIS!

Who is our Trailblazer?


Dan Riles


Technology Integration Specialist, The Brookwood School, Manchester, MA

Why our trailblazer?

With over 21 years of teaching experience, Dan has taught all grades levels up through middle school. At the Brookwood School, Dan primarily works with Pre-K through 5th grade students. He says that his students love to work with robotics technology. For example, Dan express that he loves starting students’ robotics experience with KIBO for many reasons: “the use of symbols allows pre-literate children to access the code, the integrated bar-code scanner avoids the need for additional screen time, and young children who lack fine motor control can assemble the robot and blocks without any additional assistance.” He emphasizes the importance of giving students opportunities to explore the blocks in a gradual, scaffolded way, where they begin to feel comfortable and familiar with using KIBO.

Why KIBO?

Dan has used KIBO as an introduction to robotics and programming for his youngest students. Additionally, unlike other platforms, KIBO is developmentally accessible and appropriate for young children in ways that other robot systems are not.Dan loves that KIBO also introduces loops and conditionals. For example, many people are shocked that 3 and 4 year-olds can grasp those concepts, but Dan uses these concepts everyday to show that the children are already using them in their lives. Dan has given his students examples of conditionals (if, then blocks) and repeats in their daily lives: “If your hands are dirty, go wash them,” and “When you wash your hands, rub them together ten times.”

What was the process like for integrating robotics curriculum into the classroom?

Dan plans to build on the work that he has done this year in getting robotics and other technology into all of the classrooms of Pre-K through 5th grade at the Brookwood School. Thus far, Dan has been using KIBO as a separate robotics experience rather than trying to force the integration into the classroom immediately. He hope to both continue teaching these lessons as a separate set of skills and concepts that have their own progression, as well as starting to integrate the now more familiar materials into regular classroom activities, projects, and lessons. Once the teachers become more comfortable with using KIBO, they will begin to see how they can integrate KIBO into the class curriculum. Dan hopes to get to a point where KIBO can be sitting on a shelf for a student to explore on their own even when he is not there! Awesome job, Dan!”

Who is our Trailblazer?


Randie Groden


Teacher Librarian, The Memorial School, Medfield, MA

Why our trailblazer?

With almost 15 years of experience at the Memorial School, Randie has worked with 400 students each year from Pre-K, K, and 1st grade classrooms. She works to integrate technology and literacy together, by sharing her love of books and technology with the students and teachers. Currently, Randie has been piloting KIBO curriculum with her students.

What was the process like for integrating robotics curriculum into the classroom?

Randie is piloting KIBO in six classes of Kindergarten and 1st grade students. She plans to develop to robotics curriculum together with the teachers. Everyone that Randie has worked with (staff and students) is very excited to be working with KIBO! Randie introduced each class to a Meet KIBO Lesson, where she and the students talked about what coding is, explored KIBO through hands-on learning and programming the KIBO blocks. Randie explained that there was lots of curiosity, planning (What did the students want KIBO to do?), collaboration, problem solving, enthusiasm and engagement from every student involved. The very idea of a ‘robot’ was extremely exciting!

Why KIBO?

Randie expresses that technology is integrated into everyone's daily life. Randie expresses that because children want to learn new concepts, they are beginning to learn important concepts such as sequencing, sensors and motors. KIBO is a tool that is helping Randie’s students learn about and understand programming in a hands-on way. KIBO is showing her students that technology is not magic--that there is always someone creating a program or code to control the robot--that they can control KIBO. They’re exploring problem solving as a team and learning that it’s OK to fail and ssometimes KIBO doesn’t do everything they wanted it to do, then they try again (and again and again!). Randie loves that her students can handle and examine the problem without worrying about the fragility of KIBO. It has been exciting to add robotics to their library’s learning space. And, KIBO is helping teach 'Future Ready' skills to both students and staff by incorporating STEM and STEAM into the curriculums. Randie is very excited about introducing her young students to KIBO. She expressed, “It’s at the top of my list of favorite things I’ve ever done with children in the school setting. I love that it fosters playful learning!” Randie, we are very excited to see what you will do next with your students!

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