I had the distinct pleasure today to teach the first ever class in the Utah Valley University Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism DURING the ribbon-cutting ceremony - think media coverage, large crowds, heightened emotion. So, what did I teach?
Arts & Bots, of course!
For this event, we combined the final exam periods for our Elementary Education pre-service program Instructional Media and Creative Arts Methods courses into a 4-hour experience. We discussed the mission of the CREATE Lab - to empower children of all walks of life, and particularly those who are underserved, at-risk, and perhaps on the Autism spectrum, to learn and grow and succeed. We then spent some time getting familiar with the Hummingbird board and all of its inputs and outputs and practicing some basic computer science concepts before getting to their task.
The learning target for the day was to: Represent a local, regional, national, or global issue you are concerned about using visual art and robotic components. They were inspired by a model created by an 11-year old, using fine art as backdrops for the life cycle and endangered status of sea turtles. They then created their own works through re-mixing and creation of original pieces that explored the issues of climate change, poverty, diverse classrooms, and more.
This was an eye-opening experience for these future teachers as they considered how technology, arts, and project-based learning might both hugely benefit broad populations of students and simultaneously cover more curriculum across more subjects in less time than traditional, sequential teaching methods.
It was an honor and a privilege to teach in this context today, using Arts & Bots as a vehicle to communicate love and concern for all children in our school system!