Teacher Feature: Jemma White

Jemma White is a primary school teacher at North Sydney Demonstrations School in New South Wales, Australia.

How long have you been a teacher, and what ages/subjects do you teach?

I have been teaching for 6 years as a primary school teacher.

What are the most important things that you want your students to learn?

In this digital day and age I think the most important thing students need to learn is collaboration skills, which instil empathy and compassion towards others. I also believe very strongly that students’ creativity needs to be nurtured and extended through rich learning opportunities.

When did you start using LEGO WeDo in the classroom?

I attended a professional development course at Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre early in 2016 and began teaching it as a lunchtime club with Stage 1 [Year 1 and 2] students. I then began using it with my Year 1 class weekly.

What have been the benefits?

The benefits have been amazing. My students are highly engaged and work positively with peers to solve problems.

How does it fit in with the curriculum?

It maps perfectly onto the NSW science and technology curriculum. The iPad application contains guided and open-ended projects which have students solve real world problems using the kits. I recently taught my students a unit on Energy and Movement and I built my program around the ‘Speed’ guided project. It made the learning authentic and practical.

What have been the greatest challenges / blockers?

I am still learning the technology and I learn something new every time my class uses it. I have been halfway through a session with my class and figured something out which would have made the entire lesson easier to understand. My class are very used to me stopping them regularly throughout the session and sharing new approaches to programming their models. When I eventually teach using WeDo 2.0 again with a new class, I will be able to approach lessons very differently.

Could you tell me about one student who has been positively affected?

I have a student who found it difficult to sit still and concentrate. When I teamed him up with his partner for WeDo 2.0 lessons his partner was quite worried that this boy would not work well in a team. They have not only formed a strong friendship, which carries out onto the playground, but have solved LEGO problems as a team whilst meeting curriculum expectations.

Do you have any advice for teachers thinking about getting started with LEGO WeDo?

Just do it! Don’t worry about not knowing enough. You will learn as you go and your students will most likely teach you a lot too!

Jemma has created a wonderful poster showing the links between the WeDo 2.0 projects and the NSW Stage 1 (Year 1 and 2) and Stage 2 (Year 3 and 4) science and technology outcomes.