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April 20, 2015

If I had wings...

The work with the children in Udavi 8th Grade for their end of the year story called 'if I had wings' felt quite complete. I have already put a note on what I saw in the children when they were looking at their work and about their work itself.

Preparation: For the class project with the 8th graders on if I have wings we first set up the computers to be networked so they could save their data in one place. This helped us back up their files track their progress from one place.

Pairs: I noticed that the boys and girls don't seem to work much with each other and asked the boys and girls to pair up. I also asked them to plan what they wanted to accomplish as the time was short. They were also required to come up with quality criteria.

Day 1:  The class came up with the quality criteria to look at their projects through consensus:
Understandable,  Colorful, Creative, Beautiful, Proper Language, Interesting and Teamwork.

We also had the following agreements - discussion within the group is fine, but disturbing other groups is not ok. If technical assistance is needed you raise your hand. The classes had a little hum going like a bees bussing, but it never got too loud or noisy.

Sundar and I were providing support and we had asked the teacher also to join the children in making her own program.

The technical instruction of the day was on linking to the central computer and to Open and Save files over the network. This itself made a big difference to the children in the project. There appears nothing dampens enthusiasm as the possibility of destruction of your work and being able to build on their work gave them a sense of purpose.

Day 2: The children felt confident that they could get what they wanted to done and we opened up the space for them to access the internet and download images that they might find useful for their project and not limited to images in Scratch.

The instruction of the day was a demo of Gimp, contiguous selection which could help crop backgrounds quickly and help them use characters downloaded from the internet.

There was also instruction on not using the green start flag and using an event instead. All events were named with unique names by using the first two letters of both the children in the group. Similarly all sprites and backgrounds were named by adding the 4 letters to the end to avoid clashes when the programs were merged.

One of the groups went overboard and even named their character in their story the same name as their code names.

Day 3: To bring back focus on the project as some groups were drifting we had a session on feedback for growth. Each group watched what the next group had done and offered increase, decrease and retain feedback on the quality criteria.
There was some concern among us teachers that there is nothing to show yet.

Before the next class we looked at 2 groups who were really struggling and put a few lines of code giving them an idea of how to go about animating.

Day 4: They worked, we supported and kept shuttling around groups. 3 groups were satisfied with their work and called it done. 5 groups were not done.

We agreed to have a Day 5, but decided that the groups who were done would have to take it to the next level and start working on combining files with us.

Day 5: We started combining the files and came up with a much larger list of to dos in individual projects to make merging possible:
1) Append name of sprites, backgrounds with unique name for each group (we used the first two letters of the two children in each group)
2) Make each sprite hide  when the green flag is pressed
3) Each sprite is message driven and each message has the unique name followed by 1, 2, etc.
4) BG changes are also within the sprites (using change background)
5) Make the begin position of each sprite explicit

6) Hide when done

We were able to combine the three projects that were complete and we asked the children to go ahead and join the remaining groups supporting them through this code review and making the work of merging easier.

Day 6: We showed the children their combined work, they did a self assessment for themselves and we also did a survey for the children.

It was interesting to see quite a few children in the survey point to teamwork as a big learning for themselves another was getting what they set out to do done.

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