Bringing Summer Lessons into the Classroom
by Ying Chen (Teach For America, New York '14), High School Science Teacher, Hyde Leadership Charter School, New York, NY | 01/28/2020
*This post republished with permission from by the Infosys Foundation USA, see original version here.
After having the opportunity to attend Mouse’s professional development at the Pathfinders Summer Institute hosted by Infosys Foundation USA, I was excited to teach and embed the Circuitry & Electronics lessons into my science courses. The key takeaways from the sessions were the hands-on opportunities to act as a student and experience the lessons using the Mouse Create learning platform. There were times when I struggled to complete the lessons during the summer, but the facilitator offered great encouragement and support. Later, I realized that these struggles made me a better learner and put my growth mindset to work. Those experiences helped me envision the difficulties and struggles that students might encounter during the lesson so that I could plan engaging lessons using the resources provided at the session.
Even though coding was not one of the lessons I learned directly at the Pathfinders Summer Institute, it was recommended by the facilitators. I spent some time exploring the coding lessons offered on Mouse Create and found that they aligned to the web design unit of our school’s computer science classes. As a result, I started off the web-design unit of the course using the coding lessons from Mouse Create. I hope to continue using the lessons on Mouse Create to help the students develop a growth mindset and realize that computer science is fun and full of collaboration, critical thinking, and errors that lead to great success. Often in class, I can see students working in collaboration and supporting each other during the lesson when encountering difficulties with coding. So far, the students have completed most of the lessons under the coding unit on Mouse Create and created their own unique websites using the knowledge learned from doing the lessons on the platform. Toward the later weeks of this semester, students will be learning to create circuits using the Arduino kits and lessons on Mouse Create.
In my physical science classes, I have done the human circuit lesson on Mouse Create as one of the beginning lessons to introduce students to physics concepts. The feedback from the students informed me that not only did they enjoy the lesson, but they were also able to make a connection between real-life scenarios and physics. A few weeks ago, I also completed the light-up creature lesson that requires students to use the materials provided to make a simple circuit. Students were so into the project that some even asked to stay after school to complete it. I have found that students enjoy more hands-on experiences and are motivated to learn and ask questions regarding to the ‘magic’ behind it, which I refer to as science concepts.
After incorporating some of the lessons on Mouse Create into physical science classes, I have found that the students’ overall benchmark pass rate has increased in comparison to past years. Due to the nature that computer science classes are more performance and project-based, there are fewer test results to show. However, it’s clear their interest and performance in projects have increased.
Beyond content, I believe that it is important to have a supportive strategy for students during difficult lessons. One strategy that I have learned from the sessions last summer is to pair students together so that they can support each other throughout the lesson. This partner model personally helped me a lot during the sessions last summer. I have used this in my computer science classes since the beginning of the year.
Click here for more information about the Infosys Pathfinders Institute.
Click here for more information about Mouse Create's courses, including the one described above.