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Young Readers' Series: Robot Encounters

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Open to: Grades 2-3

Prerequisites: Qualifying verbal score and/or qualifying math score [Note: While students are not required to be verbal qualifiers, they must be proficient readers and writers of English to gain value from the course. An optional, free, self-graded, 15-question readiness assessment is available.]

Course Format: Web-based classroom

Course Length: Session-based: 10 weeks (fall, winter, spring, late summer) or 12 weeks (early summer); Session Dates and Application Deadlines

Course Code: YYRE

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Course Description     

Description

Ever since Isaac Asimov created his "Three Laws of Robotics," people have pondered the proper relationship between humans and robots. In this course, students read about robots and other forms of artificial intelligence engineered to serve humans by competing in athletic events, providing security, and running households. But how do the Laws of Robotics apply when a robot wants more? When teen rebels want to escape from a school that is training them to become super villains against their will, can the artificially intelligent entity that operates the institute prevent their escape? The stories include humor, suspense, fantasy, mischief, and adventure. Tom Swift- Young Inventor [The Robot Olympics] by Victor Appleton; Eager by Helen Fox; H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden. Some assignments include short videos (such as the one below describing the DARPA Robotics Challenge) and others will require internet research for students to find additional images, documents, and other free media to complete writing and multimedia assignments. Visit the Homepage of the Robot Encounters classroom.

 

About the Young Readers' Series Themes for Verbal and/or Math Qualifiers in Grades 2 and 3: Robot Encounters and Wild Things
 

The Young Readers' Series is designed enhance a student's critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. Designed for enrichment, course assignments meet or surpass the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading. As students participate in written discussion forums, they make inferences, determine motivations, evaluate arguments, and provide textual evidence to support their opinions. Creative writing assignments encourage students to take on different points of view, summarize details, compare authors, and discuss central ideas. 
 
Designed for children reading at a 5th grade level or above, students enrolled in the Young Readers' Series for Grades 2 and 3:
 
  • Read three or four thematically connected, age-appropriate books of increasing difficulty
  • Participate in online written discussions with gifted classmates from Boston to Beijing
  • Post writing assignments such as newspaper articles, letters, journals, dialogues, and editorials
  • Learn sophisticated vocabulary words and literary devices with the help of online games and puzzles
  • Receive individualized written feedback from their instructor about each lesson's work

The two courses in the Young Readers' Series for Verbal and/or Math qualifiers for Grades 2 and 3 include the same level of challenging books, creative writing, and critical thinking as the traditional Young Readers Series. The difference is that Robot Encounters and Wild Things are open to both verbal and/or math qualifiers, and many assignments allow students to use and create multimedia content using web 2.0 tools such as VoiceThread and other online slideshows, bulletin boards, and more. 

Parents Ask...
 

  • Students typically read and share written responses every other day (fall, spring, and early summer sessions) or daily (midsummer intensive session).
  • Work is posted in the virtual classrooms at the student’s convenience as long as each lesson's deadlines are met.
  • It does not matter whether a student has already read one or all of the books before the course begins because the emphasis on citing the text requires careful re-reading.
  • Students must already be proficient in Standard Written English. [Instructors discuss grammar only when it affects meaning.]
  • An optional, free, self-graded, 15-question readiness assessment is available.
  • These critical reading courses are designed to be ungraded, enrichment courses; instead of a grade, instructors provide specific feedback about each student's work at the end of each lesson and a detailed final evaluation at the end of the course. Parents or guardians may request a final grade if needed for school credit

About Readability and Appropriateness

Parents are encouraged to consider the information contained in About Readability and Appropriateness, Look inside the books, and Read reviews for the books before deciding on the course that would be most interesting and appropriate for their child.

Readability

The easiest method to check readability for your child is the “Five Finger Rule.” Have the child begin reading aloud any page of a book at random and raise your finger each time he or she struggles with a word. If your child reaches the end of the page before you have raised five fingers, your child should be able to read the book independently.

CTY Online Programs simplifies this informal assessment by linking to pages of almost every book in the Look inside the books section. Please perform this “Five Finger Rule” assessment on the last or next to last book of any course you are considering.

Appropriateness

Parents should be aware that each theme contains books with humor, mystery, adventure, and heroism as well as suspense and sadness. Overall, while our courses contain advanced grade-level material, we strive to select materials appropriate to the ages of the students. Please look inside the books and read reviews to decide whether these books are appropriate for your child. If you are still uncertain whether your child is ready for a course, please email ctyonline@jhu.edu or call 410-735-6144. 

Look inside Tom Swift - Young Inventor: The Robot Olympics
Look inside Eager
Look inside
H.I.V.E.[Higher Institute of Villainous Education]

Read Reviews.

Parents are urged to review for appropriate content.

Reviews of Tom Swift - Young Inventor: The Robot Olympics
Reviews of Eager
Reviews of H.I.V.E. [Higher Institute of Villainous Education]

Materials Needed

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

Lesson 1: Tom Swift – Young Inventor #2 [The Robot Olympics]

Begin reading Tom Swift – Young Inventor #2 [The Robot Olympics]
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 2: Tom Swift – Young Inventor #2 [The Robot Olympics]

Finish reading Tom Swift – Young Inventor #2 [The Robot Olympics]
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board questions.

Lesson 3: Eager

Begin reading Eager
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 4: Eager

Continue reading Eager
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 5: Eager

Finish reading Eager
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 6: H.I.V.E. [Higher Institute of Villainous Education]

Begin reading H.I.V.E. [Higher Institute of Villainous Education]
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 7: H.I.V.E. [Higher Institute of Villainous Education]

Continue reading H.I.V.E. [Higher Institute of Villainous Education]
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 8: H.I.V.E. [Higher Institute of Villainous Education]

Continue reading H.I.V.E. [Higher Institute of Villainous Education]
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Post ONE of the blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board

Lesson 9: H.I.V.E. [Higher Institute of Villainous Education]

Finish reading H.I.V.E. [Higher Institute of Villainous Education]
Vote your opinion in the Poll
Take a self-graded Quiz
Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board
Contribute two thoughtful posts to the Summary Discussion Board

Lesson 10: Summary Assignments covering all three books

Vote your opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum.
Complete the Literary Terms Quest [Quest=More questions than a quiz, but fewer questions than most tests!]

Note: You are provided with a list of “Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words” from each book that you can use to help better understand the book and increase your knowledge of vocabulary words in general.

OPTIONAL -Not required- Fun and Challenges:

  • Prepare for the Literary Terms Quest by playing the online Literary Terms games and puzzles.
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Use the Vocabulary Words Review Games to help learn the vocabulary words in a fun way.

Time Required

This course requires approximately three hours for each of the ten lessons. Students should expect to spend approximately 3 hours per week during the course.

Note: Students do not have to meet in the classroom at the same time. A student's written work can be posted in the virtual classroom at the student's convenience as long as deadlines are met.

About Summer Sessions:

The Young Readers' Series offers a 12-week summer session that allows families to take a week or two of vacation and 10-week sessions. All sessions cover the same course material and assignments.

While the 12-week early summer session courses allow for 2 weeks total vacation, students in the Young Readers’ courses are encouraged to work ahead or make up their work to try to keep up with their classmates whenever possible. Experience has shown that these courses are most fun when all students are working on the same lesson. Students must notify the instructor at the course's start about any planned vacation dates and must meet scheduled due dates when they are not on vacation. [Students who make up their work can finish their early summer course in 10 weeks.]

If you have any questions, please contact us before applying at ctyonline@jhu.edu.

Sample Assignment

Demo

Robot Encounters Sample Assignment

To give you an idea of the type of assignments involved, the following is the first of ten lessons:

Instructions for Lesson One

All work is due by the following Sunday at midnight. (That's the end of Sunday, not the beginning!) This means that your assigned reading should be started early and completed by Thursday night--at the latest--to allow you enough time to finish all the assignments (Reading, Quiz, Poll, Blog, and Discussion Posts) by Sunday night.

1. Begin reading Tom Swift-Young Inventor #2: The Robot Olympics by Victor Appleton in the following chunks:

Chapters 1 & 2 (pages 1-25);
Chapters 3 & 4 (pages 26-56);
Chapter 5 (pages 57-80)

2. Read the pages above and then take this self-graded Quiz.

Directions: Read the pages listed above for this lesson before taking this self-graded quiz. If you don’t know an answer, refer to your book. To answer the last two questions, count how many questions you answered correctly without

referring to the book. Feel free to click on the links to learn the definitions of literary terms such as “inference,” “simile,” “alliteration,” and “onomatopoeia.”

3. Vote your opinion in the Poll.

4. Post ONE of the following blog assignments (your choice) to the Blog forum:

a) Read through the description of the Swift family's home on pages 15-18. Write a 50 - 250+ word description of your own "dream" home with your own futuristic inventions. Be sure to let us know what each invention is used for.
 
b) Create a PowerPoint or Web 2.0 PhotoPeach or Animoto slideshow or Linoit.com canvas online bulletin board describing your own "dream" home with your own futuristic inventions, being sure to let your audience know what each invention is used for. [Use the CTY Guide to Web 2.0 Tools or the Web 2.0 Tools Glossary, both found on the HomePage, to view examples and how-to videos.]
 
c) During the tour of Swift Enterprises, we only see one of the laboratories and the prototypes that are being developed. Using your imagination, write a 50-250+ word description of what the children might have seen if they had walked into another of the Swift laboratories.

5. Contribute two (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Board in response to any of the following questions. (Remember! At least one of your two thoughtful posts should be in reply to a discussion post made by another student.)

a) Compare robot thinking to human thinking. "Right now, I knew, the microprocessors in his electronic brain were analyzing the data from its sensors in order to rapidly arrive at a decision" (3). Is this different from what we do as humans? In what way, if any, is it different? In what way is it similar?
 
b) SwiftBot vs. Tom. In the first chapter, why does Tom's "inner inventor" secretly wish that SwiftBot was winning the basketball game (5)? Based on what you have read in the first chapter and your own common sense, describe the advantages that SwiftBot has over Tom. What advantages does Tom have over the robot?
 
c) Robots replacing humanity. Tom and his family are talking about the group TRB (The Road Back) during their lunch, and Tom's father says, "'They're afraid that robots are going to replace humanity'"(23-24). Do you think that could really happen? Why or why not? How have robots replaced humans so far in life's activities?
 
d) The car of the future. Do you think it would be fun to have a car that can navigate on its own as Tom's Speedster is described in Chapter 3? What might be some of the risks of a car that navigates on its own? How about a car that seals and locks itself? Have you read about the technology that already exist? What do you predict will be the next technological breakthrough in cars that will take place in the next five years?
 
e) How inventors feel about their robots. Why do you think Tom is upset in Chapter 3 that the reporter asked about SwiftBot's balance problem in front of the robot? Do you think he was right to be upset? Why or why not? Why is Tom so protective of the robot? Do you think that the other contestants are as protective of their robots? Do you think that the robot's shape or its design with human features makes a difference as to how its designer might feel about it? Do you think there is any advantage in making a robot that does not resemble a human?
 
f) The tour of Swift Enterprises. In Chapter 5, Tom leads a group of his fellow contestants in a tour of his father's headquarters. Which of the inventions described in this chapter appears the most possible or realistic? Which, if any, strikes you as totally unbelievable or improbable? If you were in Tom's position, would you allow your competitors into your father's headquarters? What might be some of the risks of letting Andy in particular participate in the tour? Why does Tom suggest that ignoring Andy's big mouth might just be the best way to handle it? Do you think that will work with Andy? [Remember: You are required to post a thoughtful 3-4 sentence response. Please do not try to answer all parts of this question yourself, so that your classmates also have the opportunity to post their own intelligent responses to parts of this question!]

Note: You are provided with a list of “Mind-Expanding Vocabulary Words from Tom Swift: The Robot Olympics” that you can use to help better understand the book and increase your knowledge of vocabulary words in general.

OPTIONAL--Not required--Fun and Challenges:

  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading Wiki.
  • Print out and work on the crossword puzzles that have been provided to help reinforce your knowledge of the "mind-expanding" vocabulary words.
  • Play some literary terms review games

Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

This course requires that the student use a web browser with the Adobe Flash plugin. Note that many tablets and handhelds (particularly the iPad) do not support Flash and cannot view the lessons.

 

Reviews


We were very pleased with the Robot Encounters course. The feedback from the instructor was very specific and helpful. The quantity and expectations were just enough to push him without creating intense frustration. 
 
This course exceeded my expectations. I was so impressed with not only the content and type of assignments, but the excellent and constructive feedback my child received. He loved it and was sad to see it end. We will absolutely do more online courses in the future. 
 
This course was extremely valuable to my daughter. She enjoyed the material and the challenge to think deeply about what she'd read--and exchange thoughts with others. Finally, the instructor's thorough, encouraging feedback helped my daughter to think more about her writing and reinforced the idea that good writing is the result of a process that can be hard, but rewarding, work. My daughter also reflected on several occasions how much she appreciated detailed feedback instead of just "great job!", which is what she gets at school. Hadn't realized that this bothered her!
 
Thanks to his instructor's consistently positive and constructive feedback, my son is no longer intimidated by the writing process. He no longer believes that he "hates to write" and has grown to enjoy writing. 
 
We like the design of the discussion topics very much. The topics are so interesting that my child (a reluctant writer) actually wanted to answer them. 
 
Our daughter has gained from this course in more ways that we could have imagined. Her critical thinking skills have been honed well and she has enjoyed the intensity and focus that the course brought to reading and writing. Her vocabulary and understanding of literary devices has developed in ways I could not have envisioned a nine year old to be capable of learning. Thank you very much for the wonderful opportunities.
 
I think my son had become accustomed to being told how advanced his reading skills have been. This was a growing experience because I feel as if the instructor's feedback always pushed him to the next level. She managed to mix praise with constructive feedback for continued growth. She really challenged him in in his newly developing writing skills.  I already see a difference in his writing assignments for school. 
 
The instructor's thoughtful feedback and encouragement kept my daughter committed and engaged in challenging work. She challenges students to think more deeply and to persevere--an important skill that my daughter hasn't needed to do well in school.As a result of this course, my daughter--who had previously resisted the sci go genre--is an enthusiastic fan and wants to learn about computer programming.
 
My child always looked forward to the work. And he loved the books. He is a new reader, and H.I.V.E. grabbed him so much that he has now, just in the last 2 weeks, read vols. 2, 3, 4, and is almost done with 5 !!! 

Excellent reading selected. Very responsive and supportive instructor. Web 2.0 tools were especially interesting for my child.