Castleberry Elementary, Fort Worth, Texas

Reinventing Math with Ozobots
By: | January 6, 2019
District Name: Castleberry ISD
District State: Texas
District Website: castleberryisd.net

Robots rolled into classrooms at Castleberry ISD in Fort Worth, Texas, to rev up fifth-graders about math in the 2016-17 school year. A teacher preparing students for state testing realized the robotic devices could help students with a particular, essential skill: understanding coordinate grids.

“Students first brainstormed as a class where and why they would need to know coordinate grids,” says Courtney DeLaCruz, a district innovation leader. “Some answers the students gave were to read a map to locate a ship if it was lost or to help rescue people who were stranded.”

At the same time, students learned to program the bots to follow the increasingly complicated grids the class created.

Previously, coordinate grids were taught via worksheets and heavy “sit-and-get instruction.” The new STEM-focused approach gives students hands-on experience with real-life problems, DeLaCruz says.

Students who worked with the robots improved scores for coordinate grids on the state tests. Scores slipped for district students who didn’t use the devices.

A key to success was letting the students play with and experiment with the robots when they were first brought into their classrooms. Once the devices were being used for assignments, students were also given time to reflect and learn from mistakes.

Teachers, meanwhile, needed to have a thorough understanding of how the robots work so they could guide the students. Teachers are getting guidance from Ozobot’s online community.

Castleberry ISD plans to expand the use of robots in coding, math and other STEM classes.

“It encourages more technology literacy for the teacher and students,” DeLaCruz says. “Activities, learning and pedagogy transform becoming more interactive and leading to a higher rigor level in the classroom.”