Monday, March 07, 2005

I'm blogging too!

Bill has given me authorship priveleges, so this is my first try at blogging. Thanks Bill.
I'll introduce myself: my name is Tony Forster and I run a Computer Club in Melbourne for years 4 to 8.

While I'm blogging, I might as well talk about what I'm thinking about now. Computer Club runs on Papert's Constructionist/Constructivist principles, the kids are free to create whatever they want with Gamemaker software. The idea is that if they are placed in an educationally enriched environment (Microworld), they will select what information they need to construct their own understanding of computers, maths etc.

I start them with a blank screen and show them how to program, bottom up. If you go to you'll see Al Upton's templates. He starts his kids with a template. Similar age kids, different style.

My first thought was what works for him works for him and what works for me works for me. But now I'm thinking, that the decision to start or not start with a template might make a fundimental difference to how a child will relate to their "Microworld"

There are various Microworld defining features in but try "A Microworld is extensible (so tools and objects can be combined to build new ones), but also transparent (so its workings are visible) and rich in various representations"

So how does a childs initial entry into their Microworld define their ongoing relationship with that world? I don't know. I'm thinking. Enough for a first blog.


Blogger Bill Kerr said...

hi tony,

that's a thought provoking first blog, I went back and reread it a couple of times!

the superficial answer to the point your raise is that templates might be best for year 3's because they need the scaffolding and starting with a blank screen might be best for year 4's (or 5's or 6's or whatever) because they are more independent learners

back in the old days with logo the almost blank screen, with just a turtle in the middle, was where nearly everyone started and the first exercise was drawing a square - but for very young kids I recall that some commands were abbreviated, eg, just f instead of fd 50 to move forward, or something like that

perhaps a related point but on a different tack is that older kids do need to be given or they steal anyway slabs of code that initially are too difficult for them to create themselves, eg. the 3D codes you have written

in fact a lot of programming books sold to adults contains such slabs of code, the O'Reilly Cookbooks for JavaScript and Python are amongst my favourites

11:02 PM  

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