For Christmas, my in-laws got my son a Sphero. I had not seen it previously but my son and husband played around with one at a Marbles the Brain Store. When I first saw the Sphero I immediately thought of tons of ways to use it in the classroom and wanted to get some for my students.
Around the same time my friend and mentor Shannon Miller sent out a tweet looking for cool apps and uses for iPads. I tweeted her about the Sphero and she and I started to talk about the ways we could use it in the classroom. Neither of us had the $600 it cost for 10 of them but we could afford 5 each. So thanks to money I received from my HSA I was able to get 5 for my students.
After Christmas I brought them into my school and as soon as my students saw them they were in love. Taking out their own devices (we are BYOD school) and borrowing my cell phone and iPad they were quickly able to drive it around the library and start playing games on it. I barely needed to show them anything.
The Sphero connects to your device via bluetooth and you can download lots of free apps to play all different kinds of games like, golf, driving, pass the Sphero (like hot potato) and other cool games.
The real reason I got the Sphero was because of the ability to program it using an app called Macrolab. It allows the students to easily program it and make it change color, steer it, etc. I think it is a really cool way to teach basic programing and coding to students. Shannon and I have been talking about it and we are hoping to get a Sphero club to started in each of the schools and connect the kids via google hangout.
But the game changer for me came on Friday when I used the Spheros with my multiply disabled students. On Fridays they come down to the library and we usually do a story time and then check out books. This week I thought we would play with the Sphero. I wanted to see if my thinking was correct that they could help students with hand eye coordination, memorization, socialization and more. And let me tell you -- it worked. It was one of the proudest moments I've had as an educator.
We played pinwheel which is like Simon Says, Color Grab where you have to grab a certain color and you earn points when you grab it quickly, and we also played Pass the Sphero which is like hot potato. The kids loved it. They were all engaged, excited, cooperating and loving it. Even our blind student played Color Grab. The other students would yell to him when it was his turn to grab the Sphero. He loved it!
I loved seeing the students so engaged and thanks to the Sphero they were. I can not emphasis just how much of a game changer it can be for some of our students. Technology when used correctly can be amazing!
Elissa Malespina is the Middle School Teacher Librarian in Somerville and a Presenter, Author and much more. The views are my own. Find my full resume above.