Going to School in Disneyland

Evergreen  Elementary  School  is  on  the  US  Fort  Lewis  US  Army  in Washington State.  In 2004 one of their Kindergarten teachers Jeffrey Thompson  won  the Disney  Foundation  Teacher  of  the  Year  Award.   This  brought  the  Army  and  Disney  together  to  build a  very  unique school.    Evergreen  teacher  Kenton  Morrison  describes  his  school  and how Roamer helps solve its unique problems.

The  school  is  built  in  a  huge hanger  and  entering  it  is  like walking   into   a   small   town.  Hallways  look  like  small  streets and  classrooms  look  like  small buildings    or    homes.  Each hallway  is  out  of  Disneyland:  Frontier  Land,  Adventure  Land, Tomorrow   Land…      The   main  hallway  is  Main  Street  USA  and the  Library  is  Sleeping  Beauty’s Castle leading to Storybook Land.  We  designated  Evergreen “The happiest school on earth”. Evergreen  has  around  800  pre-school   to   Grade   5   students.  This  constantly  changes  as  the army   shuffle   their   personnel from base to base.  The transience is exacerbated because soldiers are posted here for treatment at the nearby Madigan Army Medical Center.  The school is also a center for students with special needs.  So we have to deal with students with severe physical or cognitive issues as well as those who qualify for gifted and talented programs testing in the top 98th percentile of students in the school district.

With such a wide variety of student needs to meet, the school has been designed to function as several small schools. The building is designed into wings each accommodating a different grade.  Life Skills and Self Contained Special Education classrooms have specially designed rooms in the building as well.

I  use  the  Roamer  Robot  to  further  the students understanding of specific math principles in the area of geometry. The State of Washington requires that 5th grade students have a  clear  understanding  of  measurement  and  the  tools used  to  measure  distance  and  angle. Students are also required to develop a clear understanding of obtuse and acute angles. Further, they  need  to  be  able  to  draw  and  measure  angles.  In  the  past  we  have  had  students  use protractors to measure angles within shapes drawn on paper. This is one practical application of  the concept but student interest in drawing and measuring angles on paper is limited at best. My students need a more practical application of the concepts and Roamer provides this.

Students  begin  by  putting  a  pen  in  Roamer and  placing  the  robot  on  a  large  sheet  of paper. This allows Roamer to draw a line as it moves.  They  then  begin  experimenting  with moving   Roamer   forward,   backward,   and programming    Roamer    to    turn.    Through discovery  they  learn  that  Roamer  advances and   moves   backward   at   a   set   increment. Through experimentation they learn to control Roamer by estimating and then calculating the distance  Roamer  will  travel  in  a  straight  line forward   and   backward.   They   begin   using Rulers,  yardsticks,  tape  measures,  and  even distance    wheels,    to    accurately    measure Roamer’s  desired  path.    Then  they  begin  to experiment  with  turning  Roamer  and  quickly  discover  that  Roamer  turns  in  degrees.  They immediately  begin  using  protractors  to  estimate  and  measure  the  degree  or  angle  of  the  turn they  wish  to  program.  Rather  than  drawing  lines  on a  paper,  measurement  tools  gain  a  whole new relevance through the use of Roamer.

Once  students  have  learned  to  control  the  movements  of  the  Roamer,  they  begin  using  it  to create programs to draw geometric shapes. They draw rectangles, squares, equilateral triangles, and  right  triangles  with  Roamer.  Then  they  are  challenged  to  learn  the  angles  within  more advanced shapes and begin programming Roamer for them as well.