The Tao of Tow, named for Stephen Tow, the facilitator who pioneered it, is a method for gradually rolling out challenges over time, increasing the amount of choice your students have while working to build the culture of FUSE at the same time.
There's a full PDF attached, but here's how it works at a high level:
Here are some problems you may face in the early days of a FUSE class:
- The free choice model of FUSE will likely be unfamiliar to your students. Presenting them with 20+ challenges to choose from may be overwhelming and lead to some students getting stuck in browse-mode for too long.
- Your students may also be surprised to find that you, their teacher, will not actually be teaching them like they are used to.
- Some of your students may need to learn the digital literacy skills needed to navigate the FUSE challenges, find software programs on their devices, and download and upload files.
- Your students will likely default to asking you for questions when they get stuck.
Here's the good news- you can solve all of these problems at once by using the Tao of Tow:
- On the first day of a FUSE class we recommend doing Spaghetti Structures together as a class. Walk through the FUSE website on a display, showing the site's essential functions. Show the FUSE intro video and have a discussion about what your students think they will get out of this kind of experience. Show some challenge trailers.
- During the next class use your challenge management tool to open up only 1-3 challenges. Have your students work on these challenge for 4-5 hours. During this time refrain from providing any direct instruction. Instead work hard to always refer a student's question back to their peers. Take a look at using Dream Home, Electric Apparel, and Beats Builder early on.
- Now open up another 3-5 challenges. Introduce the challenges by showing their trailers and discussing where students can find whatever kits, hardware, or software is required. If you're ready for 3D printing you can choose to open up some 3D printing challenges. Coaster Boss, LED Color Lights, Keychain Customizer, and Game Designer may work well here.
- Keep opening up small batches of challenges periodically, always building towards having the full set of challenges available. Save some challenges in reserve so you can keep things fresh by releasing them when you feel like your students are ready for something new.
- Give yourself a high five, because you've strategically rolled out over 20 STEAM challenges, gotten your students used to the idea of you as a facilitator, and to using each other as resources, and- you know what? That's a lot. Give yourself two high fives! At least!
See the attached PDF for more info. If you have questions about this feel free to reach out on Slack or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.