Window Into the Classroom: K/1 Field Trip

Teacher Feature: John Kratz

You introduced Lego Robotics to our school several years ago.  What makes you so passionate about this?

I spent 5 years in New York City working for an educational consulting company whose mission was to bring robotics and animation programs to schools to improve student engagement.  I saw how these tools sparked student interest and gave them opportunities to represent their learning in exciting ways.  I wanted the students at MIS to benefit from these experiences as well.

How does teaching robotics complement the IB curriculum?

While students work in robotics and animation workshops,  the high level of engagement allows them to improve in collaboration and communication skills.  In addition, students often to create models that represent solutions to the world’s problems.  For example, it is common for students to design projects whose purpose is to help people in need and protect the planet.

You attended the inquiry workshop this summer.  How are you using what you learned in your classes this year?

I’m using the constructionist learning philosophy from this workshop to build on the students’ desire to play.  Through both structured and open-ended play, I am giving students the opportunity to demonstrate learning by solving problems and working together in fun and authentic contexts.  For example, this year students pretended to be sellers at a food market in our unit Who We Are and they made believe being environmentally-responsible home builders in our unit How We Organize Ourselves.  The way they communicated during these playful experiences gave me valuable evidence of their learning.

Tell us about the book that you wrote and the process of writing it.  Any plans for another?

In 2015, I published my first book, a Falcon Guidebook titled “Hiking Waterfalls in Montana”.  The book describes trails to 100 of Montana’s best waterfalls.  I have signed copies available if anyone would like to purchase one.  I’m excited to begin working on writing a second hiking guide, possibly beginning the project in 2020. In addition to being a writer and teacher, I’m a musician and formed a new band about a year ago called The Benevolents. We will perform at Draught Works on February 23, and Great Burn on February 27.