Unfortunately, I don’t actually meet with the kids in computer class this week due to my own work-schedule conflict with our normal class time. However, I have created a Scratch math game that will be used over the next two weeks or more to demonstrate some cs concepts. We started out making shapes and talking about how technology can be used to do things for us… like drawing nice straight lines for our squares or very complex shapes that we would have trouble drawing by hand at all. The math game example will expand on that idea by 1) communicating with the user 2) passing messages between modules 3) performing math calculations and 4) combining simple activities to perform a complex action: teaching. I’ve uploaded the game to my profile on Scratch: MathGame1. Also, handouts will be created for use as guides in class which will describe and illustrate strategies for implementing the activities above, and will be posted once they are completed.
Last Friday marked my first day at my official volunteer site, St. Viator Elementary School. It’s been a struggle to get this far, since the CPS strike this year temporarily took out all the public school sites. I ended up finding this site during the strike through a coworker at one of my jobs, and I started talking with the principal and computer education teacher. After a week or so of back and forth emails, I filled out the paperwork they needed and went through Virtus training. We decided the best thing for me to do would be to teach the 3rd and 6th grade computer classes Scratch programming. Additionally, I’d be working with the afternoon kindergarten class on the class iPads.
For my first class with the 6th graders, I started with some early history of programming and some basic concepts of what a program is. I used a cream cheese and jelly sandwich to illustrate how a program is only as smart as the programmer, and that the instructions to make a sandwich had to be incredibly specific. They seemed to catch on to the concept very quickly. Afterwards I set them loose into the Scratch environment, and it was as if I put them into a candy store. They jumped right in, eager to race ahead and see what everything did before I could explain it. As it turned out, two of the students were already familiar with Scratch, so if anything I will have them help me as teaching assistants to handle all the questions.
In the downtime between the 6th and 3rd grade classes, I went to the afternoon kindergarten class to work on the iPads with the students, mainly just supervise them as they worked on basic educational apps, like counting and sorting games.
For the 3rd grade class I basically watered down my lecture to the 6th grade class, but I kept the sandwich demonstration, which they thought was the funniest thing since sliced bread. The nice thing with the 3rd graders is that they weren’t as quick to get ahead in the Scratch program, so I was able to introduce concepts a little more slowly.
In the next week or two, I hope to work with both of these classes to write and illustrate a short story in Scratch, most likely in teams of two. It probably won’t be a very long story, just a paragraph or two. That has yet to be decided between myself and the language arts teacher. As of now however, my hopes are high, and I’m really looking forward to watching their projects take shape.