At 10:35 AM -0400 9/14/09, Karen McSweeney Contreras wrote: >This is a general question for the LL community: >This is my fourth year coaching a LL team (two >as JFLL, second as FLL). This year, I have six >6th grade boys. They are at varying stages of >focusing abilities and interest in the tasks at >hand. (Typical boys of their age!.) Any >suggestions on how to get the most out of the >season? Last year, we used 3 'bots and three >lap tops and that seemed to be too >all-over-the-place. I am going to try 2 'bots >and '2 laptops this year (then we combine >everything into 1 'bot). Any thoughts on how to >divide kids/tasks/etcŠ? I'm guessing that most coaches have struggled with this set of issues: keeping the group of varying personalities and abilities engaged and focused, and achieving an appropriate balance between work on the robot and the research/presentation. You're ahead of the curve if your team members are largely the same from year to year, as you know their individual personalities and strengths, and know which combinations of kids work well together. In three years of work with an FLL team, my fellow coaches and I had at least some success with some of these strategies: - Structured meetings. We broke each team meeting into time blocks that were announced at the start. For example, a block of free robot time (energy dissipation), then a block of group brainstorming or discussion (while brains are fresh), then a block of time on the research project or presentation, then a snack, then work on the robot missions and programming. - Ancillary meetings. Last year the robot table and team meetings were in my house, and that gave me the opportunity to have additional times during the week when just a few team members could come and work. This usually meant robot work, and usually could proceed with only a modest amount of my involvement (depending on which kids were there). One caveat is that this required note-taking so that the rest of the team would be aware of what had been accomplished. Occasionally just one team member would show up, a great occasion for me to spend some one-on-one time to teach some new programming skill without distraction. - Identical robots. We had the luxury of multiple NXT kits (owned by some of the members). Once the team agreed on a robot model, they made two identical clones, which allowed groups of two or three work on a particular mission without the rest of the team getting impatient or jealous. Like Frank's team, ours worked in groups of (usually) two, each of which had ownership of a particular set of related missions. This required multiple computers, and some discipline in keeping track of which was the "official" version of a program. (Re. Phil's comment, it was a challenge to get some of the boys interested in working on the research, and a challenge to get the girls to speak up about their interest in working on the robot despite being willing to do the researchy stuff. What helped last year was that the research project involved poop, and the presentation involved making a video, both of which were appealing to the boys!) Having learned the hard way, I recommend leaving -plenty- of time before the regional tournament for creating and practicing the presentation, and for choreographing and practicing the 2.5-minute robot game. Once they start running through those, the team will be full of ideas on how to do things faster, better, different, and you'll want enough time for them to work through it all, so that the team can arrive at the tournament feeling prepared and confident. -- Cheers, Mike Blanpied Reston, VA 2006 #4809 Nano People 2007 #1666 Power Bunnies 2008 #5013 BLT--Brilliant LEGO Team -- To UNSUBSCRIBE or CHANGE your settings, please visit https://listserv.jmu.edu/archives/vadcfll-l.html and select "Join or leave the list". -- VADCFLL administrative announcements are sent via VADCFLL-ADMIN-L. Visit https://listserv.jmu.edu/archives/vadcfll-admin-l.html to subscribe.