One of the tools that I have implemented is the use of the SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) writing to learn about constructing How-to writing in an authentic situation. Students have learned ways to work together and to use a particular structure to give information on our EZ Robot. What better way to ensure students’ buy-in then giving them the chance to be the first to explore a cool, new robot! I continue to emphasize that as they sift through the manual and tutorials to get to know this piece of technology, they are simplifying a process so that any teacher or Easley student can use it with ease.
Twenty first century skills need not be taught always aligned to content curriculum but one step removed from what might happen in the actual workplace. I have found ways to incorporate their content, “How-to” or technical reading and writing aligns seamlessly, but the career-ready skills are incorporated very much the way they would see them in the actual workplace. In addition, creating an SOP requires students develop an expertise about a piece of equipment, therefore spending significant time reading and practicing with that equipment. I have also found that creating the SOP is an activity that is accessible to all. A Kindergarten student can create this with the use of pictures in sequential order, a first grader can do this with accompanying simple sentences and so forth. The differentiation comes with the expectations for each grade level and is a skill that could be used every year, encouraging students to build their technical writing skills with each passing year.
Students have maintained a high level of engagement throughout this exploration, increasingly excited to add more to their skill base. The rewards for this engagement are built-in, they move past basic understanding and further into programming the robot to dance, sing and interact. Therefore the teacher has to worry less about building in rewards and keep students engaged and be able to focus directly on the actual content.