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Meet Frosty the Robot

So often we hear the term 21st century classroom and the importance of preparing children for the 21st century. Laptops, computer, ipads... our district is blessed to have so much but one piece of technology that changed my entire viewpoint as a teacher was a robot.

Meet Frosty, our friendly classroom robot!!!

In my last 1st-2nd grade loop, I had a student with an acute kidney disease. She was in and out of school each fall and once flu season began... forget it. It was too dangerous... one stomach bug would land her in the ICU for days. We set up a plan for a home-tutor to come to her house and do one hour of "tutoring" a day to keep her caught up. The rest of her work was on her own.. but let's be honest. Is a seven year old really self-motivated enough to do a full days work on her own? NO WAY!

So.. in a meeting with our school psychologist, principal, and assistant superintendent, someone suggested we contact our Monroe #1 BOCES technology department and try to utilize the VGO Robot that was being trialed in schools. I couldn't believe it... instead of bringing my student to school, we would bring school to her!

Just before Christmas, we introduced Frosty to the kids. (Note: not a great idea with heightened excitement of Santa and winter break looming for enthusiastic second graders... I would wait for a smoother transition time in the future!) Everyday for our math workshop, our friend would call in on Frosty, the lights would flash and the camera would flip open. She had an ipad at home with an app that would connect to Frosty.  I'd move Frosty with a little remote up to the rug for our mini-lesson before we split off into our math workshop. Frosty would go to each center, including her guided math group with me for small group instruction. She'd have all the resources and materials (that I had previously sent home) to play games at centers with her classmates.

I can not even begin to tell you how many times my eyes would well-up with tears and I would watch this child, who was not able to come to school due to poor health, gleefully interact with her friends across the screen of a robot. In first grade, I had tried to connect her with her peers via Face Time on my iPhone, but it was very difficult with the poor cell connection we had in the classroom. (One time I had my observation while she was Face Timing in for a guided reading group... that was a SIGHT FOR SORE EYES.. but a story for another day! Haha!) It was finally happening, she was loved and included though she could not be there. What a gift.

One would think that 2nd graders would be highly distracted by the use of a LITERAL robot in the classroom... but it amazed me, how quickly it became the norm. When it was time to go to specials, we'd roll Frosty onto the cart, and pull her on down to music or library or whichever special area class we had that day.

If you're interested in hearing more, I have linked the video made by BOCES about our student, VRO Robot named Frosty and how it all worked in our classroom!

What about you? Do you have any cool technology that's helping improve the education of your students? Link up your blog posts here!

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