Roamer Offers Teaching Strategies for All
Roamer can support Early Years to High School teachers across most subjects. Its flexibility makes it useful in formal and informal learning; it works with gifted, remedial or special education. To see how it can help you check the tabs and various links.
Problem Solving Challenges
At this age typical activities rely less on intuitive and visual solving of problems. Students can use their knowledge to find solutions. Through practical Roamer activities they can develop and master important skills. The Robot Rally Race requires students to perform experiments to determine the robots speed and to engage with various statistical calculations. Involvement and motivation in the activity outcome transfers to the mathematics making the tasks meaningful to the students.
Authentic Learning Scenarios
To many students are bemused by what we expect them to learn. They may readily understand why they need basic arithmetic – but algebra, “When am I going to find that useful?” Roamer’s phyicality and the practical nature of Roamer activities add an element of authenticity to what we teach. Understanding a purpose to knowledge positively transforms students willingness to learn it.
An Object to Think With
Accessible and Adaptable
Special Education teachers were amongst the first educators to realise the potential of Turtle type robots. Whether working with students who are blind, have autism, downs syndrome or ADHD – whatever the learning disability teachers have found useful ways of adapting the technology to meet the needs of their students. This Roamer was specifically designed as an enhancement of the Classic Roamer to make this process easier to do. Its modular nature means you can change the way students interact with the robot.
The GO Archives contain several other articles on Turtles and Roamer in special needs education.
Develop Computational Thinking Skills
Roamer offers what is called a high ceiling and low floor programming experience. Easy to start, but capable of great challenges. It is simple for the most computer shy beginner to make something tangible happen with 3 simple keystrokes. At the same time, Roamer has the capability to set the best students interesting challenges – like creating a new Roamer behaviour.
For many years children have sat in front of computers and explored what the program offered. Now we return to student programmers determining what the computer should do. This is Roamer’s ancestry; it is in its DNA. What Roamer has to offer is not something put together quickly because a new education policy. It has behind it 30 years of practical classroom experience. This is reflected in the Computing Curriculum Packs which connects computer science to all subjects in the curriculum.
Practical, Supportive, Personalised Interventions
There are many reasons a student can struggle to thrive in a school environment. Remedial teaching starts with diagnosing what issues the particular student faces and devising a personalised plan to help them. Roamer is ideal tool for many of the typical problems faced in this situation. The nature of Roamer, the way it works, its flexibility and Valiant’s extensive support make it a powerful tool for remedial education. Roamer has been used by teachers in one-to-one tuition situations. But it also provides a means of working in small groups which when managed by the teacher can be beneficial to remedial teaching.
Difficulty understanding concepts
The student may have difficulty understanding one or more concepts. A Roamer forte is its ability to help students build mental models through the provision of concrete examples of ideas that students can explore. In this process they are active learners experimenting in an environment where mistakes provide the foundation for understanding.
Problems with simple arithmetic
Students may have weak mathematical skills, particularly in basic arithmetic. Roamer provides a number of activities which involve students building visual, spatial and kinaesthetic models of basic arithmetical ideas. Many of the practical activities involve students making calculations and getting natural and instant feedback on whether their calculation was “correct”. In this process they have the opportunity to develop a sense of why their answer was wrong and by how much.
Procedure of solving problems
Sometimes students are not clear on the procedure for solving problems. Roamer programming involves student’s developing algorithms. That working out a step-by-step procedure to resolve a problem. Roamer transforms an abstract process into a concrete procedure which is much easier to understand.
Application of knowledge
Students may have problems seeing the relevance of what they are asked to learn, or how what to apply what they know. The practicality of Roamer activities involve students in applying knowledge. The authentic nature of many of the tasks and the general ability of Roamer to engage students combine to create a learning environment that helps resolve these problems.
Ongoing Roamer research is investigating the ability of the robot improve memory. The hypothesis is that the processes a student engages with match many well known memory techniques. to keep in touch with these developments:
A common problem with students in need of remedial support is their inability to comprehend what they read. The practical and tangible nature of work with Roamer provides the opportunity for students to address this.
Attitude to school and learning
Albert Einstein did not like school and school did not like him. The way that school works does not suit everyone. Roamer offers a different approach. It has a long history of engaging students and transforming their attitude.
Inability to express themselves
Some students find it difficult to express themselves. The adage actions speak louder than words is pertinent to the whole Roamer experience. Working with the robot allows you see what is happening beyond the communication problem, but it provides the student with means of self expression. It is a presentation aid and many activities culminate in students presenting their work.
This is closely allied with the poor attitude to learning. Again Roamer offers an alternative paradigm which has a history of proving effective in helping resolve these problems.
Personal factors can include physical impairments, lack of confidence, fear of failure, nervousness, etc. Roamer activities always involve the opportunity for the development of lifelong learning skills. This includes cognitive, emotional, social and personal.
Roamer challenges the best and brightest
A teacher once adversely commented on the limitations of Roamer’s musical capabilities. A gifted music student overheard the conversation and programmed Roamer to play the first few bars of Bethovens 9th symphony. Imagination is the only limit. The nature of Roamer’s open ended challenges make it possible for students to express themselves and utilise their talents and push the limites of possibility. Roamer provides a platform that can be enhanced by different modules or by designs created by the students. Over the last 30 years there have been plenty of examples where ordinary students have suddnely come to life and shown they have talents beyond their teacher’s expectation. Irrespective of the students age, cultural background or gender Roamer can provide a challenge to the most gifted students.
Motivational and Fun
After school projects either are a way of encouraging further study or they’re an attempt to keep students off the street and out of trouble. Attendance is voluntary and after a school day children and teachers are tired. Free from curriculum restrictions it is an opportunity to be adventurous, educational, motivational and enjoyable – all things Roamer excels in.
Success of an interactive exhibit in a museum needs to meet a number of criteria. It provides a challenge that:
Roamer and some Roamer activities can meet these criteria.
Roamer in the Museum of Science Boston
Play and Learn
Supports Best Teaching Practice
Roamer is a tool. While it is simple to use it exemplifies best teaching practice. The principles of Assessment for Learning (AfL) provide a practical way of managing lessons while meeting the demands of a curriculum, but allows students the freedom to think, express their creativity and imagination and follow lines of enquiry that excites their interest. Valiant pioneered the use of AfL and educational robots and structured their free activities to support these principles.
All this makes Roamer an excellent tool for trainee teachers to use.