Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sample Lessons for Robots

1. Race to get to the end of the table without touching the wall (geometry and radius)

2. Make robot turn around the book on the floor (loops)

3. Drive into a "garage" (upside down box)

4. Maze on the floor with blocks and touch sensors

Use: My Blocks

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pass it On Lesson Scratch

Pass It On

What can we create by building on others' work?

In this activity, you’ll create a project that others will remix to extend and reimagine.

First, develop an animated Scratch project in which you experiment with developing characters, coordinating interactions or conversations, and switching backdrops to create different scenes for the project. Then, add your project to the Pass It On studio for others to view and remix.

After you've shared your project, choose someone else's Pass It On project from the studio. Remix the selected project, and then post your remixed version to the Pass It On studio for others to continue.

Activity Walkthrough

Here's our checklist for this activity...

• Create a short starter animation project (e.g. a story, a joke, a music video, a slideshow) for others to remix or extend. Make sure your project has multiple sprites and includes coordinated interactions between those sprites.
• Add your project to the Pass It On studio.
• Choose another project from the Pass It On studio to remix and build upon.
• Add your remix to the studio to pass on to other participants.

When I completed this assignment for #CCOW I only completed the first half of the project.  It would be valuable to complete both halves of the project because I find I have learned as much if not more from simply seeing other's code and how they solved problems.  Making use of the studio is imperative for adults doing self-learning.  The studio can be used for kids too, but with supervision.

Here is my solution to the Pass It On: 

Growing Wings

Its been an exciting summer for our family.  We are all growing and venturing off in new and exciting ways.  The biggest of this though is Connor's adventures without his family.

Months ago he told us he wanted to go to Cub Scout Residence camp, so we set out to buy him his own tent so he could do a test run with us during family camping.  We went to Rocket Academy as a family and he tented alone - he carried his own gear, put up his tent and took it down (mostly) on his own.  He slept alone and was responsible for his own water, sunscreen and clothing.  It was hard.

It went well and he did two more practice runs with the tent in our driveway.  Then he was ready to go to camp - alone - without me.  I wasn't worried so much about bears or him being away, just the little stuff like making sure he stayed hyrdrated and wore sunscreen.

He had the best time EVER at camp and never did want to come home.  He stayed hydrated, he swam in the pool twice a day, he enjoyed movie night, leather working, weaving survival bracelets.  He did not get sunburned and he loved every second of it.

All of it was in preparation for his trip to Canada.  Yup.  Canada.  Be still my beating heart.

Programming: then and now

Four months ago we enrolled Connor in an online Scratch Programming class for elementary students.  It was expensive, but at the time I knew I would not be able to effectively teach my child to program in Scratch.  Caskey may have been able to teach him to program, but I would not be able to manage it from home while Caskey works his long hours.  We settled on a Scratch for Elementary Students class offered by CTY (of John's Hopkins).  The class began a few weeks before we opted to start teaching programming classes at Monte Vista as well.  We decided the chance to see some of the lessons would be beneficial to us as well.

Each week Caskey and I would work together to cobble together a 60-minute lesson plan for 5th and 6th grade students who were above average in math.  We would rush through the planning, create a sample program and Caskey would give me a crash course in the lesson.  In the classroom I was still not very comfortable.  I was okay doing whole group instruction, including students in the concepts we were teaching, but when it came to actually debugging the software or figuring out nuances to the programming - I was lost.  I would ask the students to work with the others around them (which had its own benefit) or wait until Caskey was available to assist them.

As the weeks progressed I found I knew less and less about what we were teaching.  But that was okay because Caskey was becoming more and more comfortable with the students and the students were learning more and more.  But I had a growing sense of dread as to how I was going to continue these classes in the fall for twice as many students.  Caskey's advice was simple - program more and you will become more comfortable with it.

I was thrilled though when I found out Google was joining teams with MIT to have a short 6-week course where educators could learn more about teaching Scratch programming to students.  It was free, online and collaborative.  It was a dream come true.

Connor just finished his online class, just as I have started to develop 20 lesson plans to be shared with the entire Foothill community to be used in classroom for 3rd - 6th graders.  Now I feel like the class was a big waste of money.  I could have taught him these things!  (To be fair the class was very well supported in videos, class materials, a professor available daily via email.)

I am amazed at how my comfort level has changed so drastically in the last 4 months.  I have no problem now saying things like computational thinking and making appointments with administrators at our school site and other school sites and collaborating on curriculum across 6 elementary schools.  I have offered free Scratch training to other parents who want to teach it and plan on offering some online classes to students in the community as soon as that feature becomes available on Scratch.

I never knew I would become a programming junkie like my husband.  But the research is there.  This is the future.  Our children need to know this just like they need to know how to read and do math.  There are so many fabulous opportunities available to them - all free.  I'm glad I feel comfortable enough with Scratch to teach it the students in our community.

Preschool Graduation: Alexander Edition

Same ol' Same ol'.  Four kids, the same preschool.  The same Robbin's Nest song on the plywood stage with little white hats.

Its hard to get excited and choked up about these events now that its the 4th child going through it.  I'm sure once its Eleanor I will be choked up since its my last preschooler, but for now I am excited for Alexander.  We all celebrate and take pictures - but its not like my first graduating preschool.  I imagine the comparison is much like being pregnant for the first time and for the 4th time; you are excited to bring a new life into this world, but the joy of seeing your expanding belly isn't as exciting the 3rd, 4th or 5th time around.

But Alexander has always kept us on his toes.  I remember a time when he was 2 years old and in trouble for being rude.   He told me he was cute and therefore couldn't get into trouble.  He has always turned on the charm to get what he wants.

I took Alexander out of preschool when the older kids were done with school for the summer.  So he hasn't had a chance to rehearse the walking onto stage, singing the two songs, and proclaiming "what I want to be when I grow up."  Now you all know my excuses for his inexcusable behavior.

The procession in went smoothly, followed by the two songs - Eleanor ran up to stage and enthusiastically announced, "you did it, Xander, good job!".  All the other parents gave a good chuckles and she went back to her seat to watch the rest like a good child.  I was feeling pretty proud of myself at this point, smug even -- 4 kids all sitting independently of me, but behaving well during the graduation and not being rude or disruptive.

Until . . . . Alexander received his certificate and walked to the microphone to proclaim "When I grow up I want to be . . . . NOTHING!"  Nothing?!  Really?!  And of course all those other parents celebrating their first child's graduation did not have my back.  They chuckled and giggled and thought he was cute.  Thanks for nothing parents.  I wanted some stink eye or other negative reaction to keep this class-clown in check.  Ugh!  So he shuffled off stage slowly doing the slow mini-walk you do when playing Mother's May I.  All the while more parents giggled.

I used to blame Robbin's Nest for his audacious behavior.  But it occurs to me that it must be just who he is.  The 4th child who is not content to be number 4.  He must stand out, even though he is brother number 3.

I am planning lots of visits to the principal's office next year.

11 Blocks Scratch Lesson

Using only the following blocks create a program of your choosing:

Go to x y
glide n sec to x y
Say ___ for n sec
play sound
When this sprite is clicked
Stop script
wait n sec
set size to n%

I completed this assignment as part of the #CCOW teaching educators to teach Scratch to children.  Here were my impressions after completing the assignment.

 I completed Assignment "10 Blocks".  I'm not too happy with it.  I kept to the letter of the assignment and did not add additional sprites or backgrounds.  Although, I don't know if that was the right choice.
As someone teaching programming standards I feel the assignment should have included a "stop script".  I did add that to my script.  Also I feel the assignment would have had more creativity if we sub out the "go to x y" block with "move n steps" block.  That would allow a repeat of putting the sprite at particular coordinates and then moving it.  


What can be created with Scratch?
In this activity, we will investigate the range of creative possibility with Scratch by exploring some of the millions of projects on the Scratch website -- and start a collection of favorites in a Scratch studio. Browse projects on the homepage or use the Explore page to search for specific types of projects. Create a new studio from your My Stuff page and add five projects to your studio.

Here's our checklist for this activity...

• Create a new Studio.
• Develop a strategy for finding interesting projects in the Scratch community.
• Add five projects you find interesting to your studio.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Poopy Gummy Bear

At grandma's house this week papa spoiled our kids by giving them gummy bears with breakfast (a breakfast of donuts).  Each child got 3 gummy bears.  My darling Alexander offered me one of his 3 gummy bears.  I wasn't really in a gummy bear mood - but I thought it was important to be positive when he offers such a prized possession.  I ate his sweaty gummy bear.

Then I discovered he had dirty hands - except they were covered in poop because he didn't wipe properly nor did he wash his hands properly.  I just ate a poop covered gummy bear.

Fast forward 2-days:  I was up most of the night with intestinal discomfort.  In the morning I realized my stomach is fine provided there is no food in it.  Great.

Fast-forward another day and a half and I am diagnosed with strep throat.  I am convinced that my immune system was so busy fighting the poopy-gummy bear that it couldn't fight off a simple case of strep.

So, as a mommy always does, I worked cub scout camp while sick with strep throat.

Trying to focus on my son's kind gesture instead of the fact that he infected me.