"THE MOST AMAZING ROBOT IN THE GALAXY"
So the Roamer is called by the children at Roughwood Infant School in Rotherham. Deputy Headteacher Shelia Reed relates how the Roamer was introduced into her school. This report first appeared in the summer issue of Rotherham's IT Newsletter.
Since Christmas my children and I have been lucky enough to have used a Valiant Roamer. We've had great fun and the children have become very good at sending it around school.
Children from other classes meet it in the corridor. It has been to visit Mrs. Evans (the secretary) and Mrs. Hardy (the Headteacher). Two students from Wingfield Comprehensive School wondered what it was when they visited us last term to make a video! They'd never seen anything like that when they were at Primary School.
The children are very confident about using it. They sometimes plan their routes on paper first and sometimes write them down as they are going along. Sometimes they just make it move. This confidence that the children have didn't just 'happen'. There was lots of practical work that had to be developed before I thought the children were ready to use it successfully. I don't believe in trying to rush my children in whatever they do. I believe in going slowly, making sure they understand what they are doing; they should always have TIME to enjoy what they are doing.
Before children could use the Roamer successfully they had to have a basic knowledge of direction and shape. A lot of time was spent in physical number, getting children to understand the language of direction and shape, such as FORWARDS, BACKWARDS, TURN RIGHT, etc. We practised following and giving each other instructions.
Some children found it difficult, but we practised until they understood. Every opportunity was used to reinforce their learning, in PE, in the classroom and on visits outside of school, for instance. The children learnt quickly. When they were ready, I showed them the Roamer. They worked in pairs and loved it. They quickly learnt to estimate distances and what a 90 degree turn was and could soon estimate the degrees in between.
On the first day, the Roamer met a group of mums at the front door; they were surprised, to say the least! Now they accept that they can be followed at any time. The Roamer can also be programmed for drawing shapes on paper. Again, practical experiences away from the Roamer, such as work on 2D and 3D shapes, are very important. We used LOGO with the Concept Keyboard as well, but only when the children had a lot of experiences in PE, physical number and more formal activities in the classroom.
The Roamer is versatile and exciting, the children enjoy working with it, gaining valuable experiences which will be useful to them. They call it the "most amazing robot in the galaxy".
A few weeks ago a little girl in my class, Lesley came up to me and said, "This LOGO's easy Mrs. Reed, but if we hadn't practised in the hall and had our robot all the time, I think it would be very difficult". She was exactly right.
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