We’re setting the bar high for 2022 and kicking off our Outstanding Educator of the Month spotlight series with Hudson Montessori School’s standout STEAM educator, Michelle Velho!
Passionate about computer science education, Michelle has served as STEAM Curriculum Coordinator at the Hudson Montessori School in Jersey City, NJ for over a decade. An active facilitator for Girls Who Code and an Ozobot Certified Educator, Michelle’s many other accomplishments include helping their school become the first STEM-accredited elementary school in New Jersey!
Read on to learn about her teaching strategies, how she uses Ozobot to engage her students, and insights into the state of CS education in New Jersey.
Her tech tools and key learnings from ‘20-’21
While the pandemic presented many challenges, it also forced us to get creative and think beyond the old ways of communicating and teaching. Google Classroom was an important learning platform that helped us organize and communicate lessons and material. Our students enjoyed sharing their learning using FlipGrid, thus allowing us to use oral presentation as a form of assessment to evaluate student understanding. Zoom and Google Meet also provided us an opportunity to network with other students and specialists in the field. Ozobot also came in handy in explaining Computational Thinking Skills unplugged.
On her favorite Ozobot projects
We have been using Ozobots in our school for the past seven years now. Our students are drawn to Ozobots and they have been a great way to engage students in Computer Science and Engineering. Our kindergarteners are just fascinated by seeing a little robot follow every line they draw. Drawing the paths for the Ozobot provided our students with great pre-cursive writing stroke practice and once they move on to Color Codes, it will reinforce pattern recognition.
Among our Lower Elementary students, we used Ozobots to explain the Scientific Process. Students were given three lines, straight, curved and zigzag lines, and asked on which line the Ozobot would move faster. After stating their claims and hypotheses, they were prompted to gather evidence. This provided us a great opportunity to explore units of measurement as students measured the time taken by the Ozobot to travel the line and compared the length of each line. It was an exciting way for students to delve into data collection and analysis.
For our Upper Elementary students, we used Ozobot as a model to explain the use and function of the proximity and optical sensors. This served as a launch to discuss the working and design of robots, automated guided vehicles and autonomous mobile robots.
On the state of CS education in New Jersey
The move to implement the National CSTA Standards and framework by Fall 2022 is brave but much needed. Trying to address these standards as a stand alone subject might pose a challenge and hence integrating it along with other core subjects like Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science will help bring it to every classroom. Collaboration between educators of different subject ideas help us bridge the gap. Computer Science should be encouraged and made available for all students, not just those interested in Math and STEM.
On the importance of STEAM education
I don’t remember the tests I took as a child, but I do remember many dissections and hand-on projects because I love tinkering and making. Our school believes in learning by making connections with the world we see around us and I feel that Maker Ed is a great way to engage young hearts and minds in collaborative hands-on learning experiences.
Want to learn more about Michelle? Check out her Twitter page!