Students use music and dance
programs, such as Dance Dance
Revolution, Disney Grooves, Boogie,
Wii Music, Guitar Hero, Rock Band,
American Idol Karaoke, and Sing
It, to meet music standards and to
experience a variety of musical instruments and songs. The students
use the system’s controllers, drumsticks, microphones, guitars, and
dance mats to play these virtual
and interactive games.
Students also get some art practice
when creating a character, or Mii, that
looks like themselves or a classmate.
They do this by selecting categories,
such as eye color and shape, hair color
and style, body size, and other characteristics to come up with a realistic
Learning about Art and Stories
I also taught the students to use games
such as Smarty Pants and Cranium
Kabookii, which include art trivia and
other art skills using clay and drawing.
During “Love of Reading Week,”
they listened to fairy tales and folk
tales using Wii Story Hour, which
allowed them to participate in activities associated with the stories. Using
this brain-friendly tool, my students
seemed to be calmer and more productive than they would be with more
traditional teaching approaches, such
as picture-book read alouds or listening centers with audio books.
My favorite additions to the lab
classroom were the programmable
floor robots that teach mapping skills,
coordinates, problem solving, communication, teamwork, and critical
thinking using mats labeled with
curriculum icons and words. The
students program the robots to move
LEARNING CONNECTIONS |
along a grid and land on the correct
answers to questions. These “bots”
help the students gain basic computer
programming and logic skills.
Most recently, the students have been
studying the presidential elections,
and they have created a mat portraying pictures of President Obama in
different aspects of his life and career.
The students randomly navigate the
robots to spots and then share with
their group what the pictures are
about and why they are important.
A former kindergarten student,
Robert Blatt, said, “I loved teaching
other kids how to use the Bee-Bots,
and we got a good laugh when the
adults could not do it.”
I have used the bots to introduce
new lessons, to practice skills through
small-group interaction, and for in-
terventions one on one or in small
groups. I have noticed that my stu-
dents this year have learned concepts
faster and with a greater retention
level than those not using the bots in
I wrote a book, Bee-Bot Lessons, that
includes many of the lessons the students have used this year.
My students have improved their
scores on the DIBELS and Aims tests,
which are used for universal screening
in our district.
And best of all, parents have been
pleased that their students are using
technology in a 21st-century learning
— Cristy Magagna-McBee is a National Board
certified early childhood education instructional
coach at Sweetwater School District in Rock
Springs, Wyoming. She will complete her PhD in
educational technology this summer.