Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day one went well...

Last week, I introduced the programming challenge to the girls. They were very hesitant about how this was going to happen.  I started them with the NCTM standars for pre-K to Second grade so they would have an idea of the mathematical concepts involved.  They began to relax about the concepts since it wasn't the algebra they were doing.  Many liked the basic facts and idea of factor families.

Before class today,  I emailed the lower school teachers to offer suggestions for games.  They not only responded with ideas that they would like to see, but also with wonderful words of encouragement.  Today the girls brainstormed and began an outline of what they wanted to do.  They focused on the concept, age, and the story behind what they wanted to do.  I tried to get them to focus on having the math being incorporated into the game vs. do problems then you play a maze game.  It took some time to get them realizing that but I think they have some great ideas!! For homework (I don't seem some of them for a week) they had to fully develop the rules and regulations so that next class we can start storyboarding.

However, I think next class will be working in Scratch tutorials, as I read over the outlines to give some suggestions before the storyboarding starts.  Now to find/make a rubric for the outlines to help guide their understanding of the gaming and outlining.

Friday, January 20, 2012

An exciting and terrifying adventure awaits!

This past weekend the Director of Communications asked me to sit in on a conference call about STEM and PBS kids.  I was free at the time so I said yes, and on Tuesday sat in the call to learn about the STEM Video Game challenge and PBS Kids partnership for this challenge.  The challenge is open to Middle, Upper, College age students in addition to Educators.  The goal is to design video games.  PBS Kids option is to design a Math video game for children ages 4-8 deadline is March 12.  Thinking about my 8th grade computer course.  I see this as a great opportunity to get them to program.  It is exciting and nerve racking at the same time.  I told my Director that I would blog about the experience on how this works.

So a little about my class.  The class is a programming class that meets 3 times a cycle.  (which is about 3 times every week an half).  It is a pass/fail class.  The students need to complete the assignments in order to pass the course.  Initially I have begun to teach them Alice.  I love Alice as I can get to the heart of programming concepts without major syntax issues.  However, with the inclusion of the challenge the course is switching over to Scratch.  I have used Scratch before but never in a formal class.  This is my first challenge.   My second challenge is the bigger one.  The course will be focused on the design challenge.  It is a great project based learning opportunity.  This is taking the ownership of the learning from me to my students.  I love this idea and terrified at the same time.  Will they learn what I want them to learn?  How do I make sure they learn the programming concepts and not just the code when multiple projects will be happening at once?  How do I stay prepared for the class and help the girls when they get stuck?

I am relinquishing control of my classroom to my students and becoming a mentor instead of teacher.  This might be scary for them as well.  How can I transition them to understand they have to take the lead and I won't program for them.   This is a great new adventure to be on and I look forward to seeing the end results.  Hopefully by the end of the class in March students will have a working game to submit to the challenge.

Wish us luck!