Archive | December 2013

How and Why to Teach Your Kids to Code

Here are some of the best tried-and-true apps for teaching kids of all ages how to code.

It’s hard to imagine the amazing apps and tools they’ll develop when they’re older if we get them started learning how to tinker now. But most importantly, when you introduce your child to programming, in the process he/she’s not just learning to code, but also coding to learn, as MIT professor Mitchel Resnick writes .

While most of these types of game-like educational apps are rated for ages 8+, if your kid is old enough to read, understand cause and effect, and motivated, you can introduce the games below to even pre-K learners.

The app prompts kids to manipulate a character, Daisy, through challenges that involve loops, events, and other programming basics .

Still, with Move the Turtle, kids can learn a great deal of logical programming concepts, as Wired’s Geek Dad asserts .

Moving past the simple single-character-manipulation apps, you’ll find apps that teach programming through drag-and-drop interfaces with coding blocks.

Scratch : An MIT project specifically designed for kids ages 8 to 16, Scratch has been used by educators and parents around the world to help kids develop animations, interactive stories, and games through drag-and-drop code blocks.

Elise wanted to make a game called “Spider Run” , and the only tool we’ve discussed so far that could really pull this off is Scratch. Although they can’t be turned into bonefide mobile apps, your kids’ creations can be saved and shared on the site.

App Inventor : Formerly a Google project , now hosted by MIT , App Inventor is much like Scratch with its drag-and-drop coding blocks.

After fiddling with App Inventor, you end up with an actual Android app. This makes the online tool really robust, but the interface isn’t young-kid friendly.

Alice : Carnegie Melon’s Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop app uses a unique 3D programming environment to teach kids the fundamentals of programming.

It’s more advanced than other kid-friendly programming tools, though great for older kids.

Video Lessons from Pluralsight : Online training site Pluralsight offers three video courses for kids, teaching them how to program in C# using Visual Basic, use Scratch, and use App Inventor.

What We’ve Learned About Teaching Kids to Code

We’ve had a lot of fun using the apps above, but I think that’s because we’ve looked at them not from a “let’s learn programming” mindset but from a “hey, want to make something? We can use this to do it” mentality.

How and Why to Teach Your Kids to Code.

via How and Why to Teach Your Kids to Code.

Flip This: Bloom’s Taxonomy Should Start with Creating | MindShift

Much of today’s standardized testing rigorously tests the basement, further anchoring the focus of learning at the bottom steps, which is not beneficial for our students. Rather than starting with knowledge, we start with creating, and eventually discern the knowledge that we need from it.

The pyramid creates the impression that there is a scarcity of creativity — only those who can traverse the bottom levels and reach the summit can be creative. And while this may be how it plays out in many schools, it’s not due to any shortage of creative potential on the part of our students.

I think the narrowing pyramid also posits that our students need a lot more focus on factual knowledge than creativity, or analyzing, or evaluating and applying what they’ve learned. And in a Google-world, it’s just not true.

Here’s what I propose: we flip Bloom’s taxonomy. Rather than starting with knowledge, we start with creating, and eventually discern the knowledge that we need from it.

Traditionally, students learn many of the foundational principles for creating a layout through a lecture or text book reading, and then eventually create their own.

My students start with the standard elements of an advertisement and create a mockup.

Now students can apply what they’ve learned as they return to their own mock-up and fix elements based on the design principles they’ve begun to absorb. Finally, students research the four design principles to flesh out their understanding where needed, and possibly correct any misconceptions.

From this research, students create their own graphic organizer of the four design principles for future reference and to help them remember.

They’ve been engaged with the entire process from start to finish, and my students have make some significant decisions about the essential knowledge they need. But Will it Work for Science?

Flip This: Bloom’s Taxonomy Should Start with Creating | MindShift.