Recent Popular Posts

July 10, 2014

Making a game...

I had a discussion with the computer instructor comparing teaching children programming (scratch) vs Openoffice in 6th-8th grade. We noted that it is possible that the office tools may have a role to play when they eventually graduate and look for work. We talked about how long it really takes to get a basic hang of what can be done with office and as children what application/interest they would have to build on it. The discussion helped me realize that Scratch allows the children to create something that can interact with them/others vs only present.

I started working on this by making the basic program they were working with interactive. Check teacher note for more details on integer addition.

The children felt the characters they had created real. They were able to relate the movement of their characters from the center of the stage to the left and right in terms of the number line and didn't get all worked up as the previous set of children I had worked with regarding negative numbers.

The kids seemed to be enjoying themselves punching in numbers and checking if they got it right. I asked them if they were really enjoying themselves and they said yes. But, there was no uncertainty or serious challenge and I want's sure if the children were enjoying themselves or if they had found a comfort zone. It was time to stretch.

We made a game out of it by allowing the user to enter a number and then have to reach a target randomly chosen by the computer. This allowed for having to think through where they were and where they needed to go and calculate accordingly. It seemed challenging, perhaps, too challenging for the younger children. When we did a self assessment the elder children felt their best work was to create the games and the younger ones kept talking about wanting to master the game.

In one of the classes, I helped them add a timer. Though they were troubled by the timer when the played the game, they simply could not take it out as they had created the game and it was a cool feature. Creating the game and playing with it were valuable complements to the discussion we had in class regarding integers, in specific negative numbers.

Teacher note:
For addition of integers the interactive program places the character at x=0. The user provides the first number and it moves that many steps and then the user provides the second number and it moves as many steps.

In one grade I introduced negative numbers initially with story of
5-10 where you had only Rs.5 and needed to buy a chocolate for Rs.10 and needed to take a loan from the shop for the same.
We then slowly drifted to Scratch. It was interesting that children are able to see scratch as something real that they control. The children all use their own characters and objects so I guess when I starting talking about what does move x 10 do the children had no issues talking about how you move right by 10 and that move x -10 says change direction to what you were moving before and goes left instead. 

I was careful to position a negative as a turn around (change direction) rather than left as it gave me the option of introducing a double negative as going right.

No comments: