Innovative Teaching: How Arcade Transforms STEM Learning in Ridgefield Schools

We spoke with Nam Nguyen, an elementary school teacher for the Ridgefield schools, about how he uses Arcade inside the classroom.

Types of use:

  • Within the classroom: Using Arcades for each student individually within the classroom to follow along new concepts.
  • Within Zoom: Nam sends out Arcades within the Zoom chat for students to try it out on their own.
  • As a companion to homework: Using Arcades as a way to engage students as they test out new concepts.
  • When a student can’t come to class: They use Arcade as a way to catch up on work.

Results:

  • Over 60 teachers are using it to teach students, ranging from ages 8-14, new STEM concepts.

We spoke with Nam Nguyen, an elementary and middle school teacher for the Ridgefield schools, about how he uses Arcade inside the classroom. Here’s their story.

The Problem

Nam wants to teach his students the future. As a STEM teacher in the state of Washington, he knows that he has a great playing field: not only does Washington have one of the best funded programs for STEM education, Nam is creative as a teacher. He was always tinkering with new technologies at night after class.

Recently, he expanded his topics to coding, game design, robotics, and animation. He is a big believer in the “flipped classroom model.” As a hands-on teacher, he wanted an immersive way to engage 30+ kids in each class about these concepts.

"I like to run my class with the workshop model, where students are working at their own pace.”

But every student moves at their own pace, though, and video was not going to cut it after Nam got a lot of requests to pause on a critical step. He was having a hard time building out his vision for a scaled immersive classroom.

On top of that, every student needs to be engaged with the material in a way that excites them about the possibilities of software.

Why Arcade?

Then Covid happened. Nam found himself needing something to engage them during Zoom, and send them as a followup to use during their homework assignments.

Techsmart introduced him to Arcade as a potential way to immerse his students into these concepts.

Nam loved Arcade the second that he saw it: he realized that he could separate Arcade into smaller chunks of lessons. He also could shorten them for students who were younger, and had shorter attention spans, as well as create more advanced ones for students who had already grasped beginner concepts.

Ways that Ridgefield Schools uses Arcade: 
  • Within the classroom: Using Arcades for each student individually within the classroom to follow along new concepts.
  • Within Zoom: Nam sends out Arcades within the Zoom chat for students to try it out on their own.
  • As a companion to homework: Using Arcades as a way to engage students as they test out new concepts.
  • When a student can’t come to class: They use Arcade as a way to catch up on work.

When Nam opens the class, he asks them about their day and says: “Time for an Arcade!” The students watch him go through a new concept, and then they break out into groups using a specific Arcade.

"Good morning, class! Time for an Arcade!"

He starts the lesson by going through a specific concept. He likes to start with the end goal, and then work backwards for how to get there.

Here’s an example Arcade:

Sometimes Nam looks at how the students are using Arcade, and notices when they are getting stuck on specific steps. He then uses the rest of the classroom time to review the most challenging parts of the lesson.

Results

Now, over hundreds of students use Arcade, and over 60 teachers are using it to teach students new concepts.

Students get to work at their own pace, and progress once they are ready to learn about the next concept.

The best part? His students are excited about the potential of software. They can see how they can apply what they’ve learned for any future idea that they have — and someday they can become teachers too.

Nam teaches the class using Arcades as a supplemental material.

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