Tag Archives: Scratch

Making New #MediaLabCourse Creations!

One of the things I was really excited about when I learned of the Learning Creative Learning course through MIT was the list of activities students would be asked to complete. Since I have just started exploring Scratch with the Super Scratch Programming Adventure! book (I’m only on Stage 3) I appreciated the opportunity to try using Scratch for a different purpose through this course. Likewise, I had emailed the creators of TurtleArt earlier this fall to ask for the software after seeing some project examples at a conference and I was excited to have a reason to try out the programming.

For the Scratch activity, we were asked to “create a Scratch project about things you like to do, then share it” in the course gallery. Below is my very quick attempt at sharing some things I like (technology/computers, beaches, playing and playgrounds).

Scratch Project

Learn more about this project

In week four, we were asked to “Create a project with TurtleArt, and reflect on any “powerful ideas” you engaged with in the process.” I spent some time exploring different TurtleArt commands but all of my creations felt pretty basic. Next, I considered starting from an existing project and then re-mixing it to make it my own, something that could tie into this week’s topic in both this course and #etmooc of Open Learning. I ran into some technical issues and wasn’t able to import any projects so I took some more time to just explore. Then, I decided to use the TurtleArt Cards to mashup some of the different projects into a new creation. I experimented with adding my own ideas along the way and eventually came up with what I called a Garden Maze.

TurtleArt

As I sat outside at a local park and finished reading Papert’s paper on idea power, I took in my surroundings – children laughing and climbing on various structures, sun shining brightly onto my iPad where I was reading, and city sounds whizzing by on either side. Ensconced in this little spot of nature within the busy streets of Philadelphia, I reflected on how valuable these safe spaces for play, exploration and discovery are for all of us in our development as thinkers and idea constructors.

To me, the idea of these spaces is powerful because they remain valuable across domains and it’s an idea that’s also fairly easy to understand, since most people have been exposed to some type of space like this during their lifetime. And of course, this idea is personal because it is something I have discovered through my own experiences. When I have the ability to help create a safe space for play, exploration, and discovery on my own (which for me, involves both quiet and noise, warmth and sunshine, people and solitude, time and a sense of freedom – to try, to learn, and to fail), I consistently engage with ideas in a more meaningful way. I am able to push myself to try new things, to test out Scratch and TurtleArt, even when I feel like I don’t know exactly what I’m doing.

park

Throughout my lifetime, there have been a range of people who have helped expose me to these types of spaces and scaffolded my understanding of them so that I could begin to construct my own understanding of what was necessary to create these spaces. Certain environments, like parks and playgrounds, have supported my experience in learning what these spaces can look like and the different components they often entail. When I think about Papert’s quote, that  “when ideas go to school they lose their power,” I think of the need to change schools and make room for the spaces I spoke of above.

Luckily, I seem to be one of many people who have seen this need and found power in the idea of safe spaces for exploration, discovery, and play (work) because the Maker movement is already working to bring Makerspaces to schools and communities. Hopefully, in time, these spaces will become more accessible and equitable so that all children can have places in school where they can play and explore resources that facilitate the empowerment of ideas again. Just as Papert was a proponent of integrating computer programming in school to help children carry ideas, I think it would be powerful to integrate makerspaces or any space that is safe for children to explore, discover, play/work, fail and try again.

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Thinking Forward Into 2013

Now that the new year is underway and I’ve had a chance to reflect on 2012, I wanted to pause and do some thinking forward about 2013. Where will I go? What will I learn? What are my goals (big and little) and how can I achieve them?

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Where will I go, both literally and metaphorically?

  • I hope to go to at least one new conference that I have never attended before to stretch myself professionally and expand my knowledge and exposure of what others are thinking and doing around technology integration in early childhood and for global collaboration
  • I would love to travel overseas again sometime in 2013 because I have and probably will always carry the travel bug. Whether it’s returning to a favorite spot, like Italia, or venturing into new territory  (maybe Asia?), I’m up for the adventure!
  • I’m also looking forward to the pause and peace of summer and I hope it will involve a trip to Cape Cod, where I always find so much serenity
  • Metaphorically, I am planning to continue exploring new lands of tech curricula and to go where I haven’t gone before in terms of studying and designing projects that will integrate technology into the classroom in a meaningful way

What will I learn?

  • Programming Languages
    • I would like to continue learning more about different programing languages in the coming year. Recently, I have been working through Super Scratch Programming Adventure! to examine ways I might be able to use Scratch with my older students. I have also been looking at CodeHS/Code Academy and apps like Move the Turtle and Cato’s Hike to see if they could be used in the classroom. There still seems to be a gap in available materials and languages suitable for very young children but hopefully programs like Scratch Jr. and CHERP will be available soon! 
  • iPad apps
    • These are on my list of learning materials because as we move towards a deeper integration of mobile technologies, I want to be familiar and comfortable with tools that can facilitate meaningful and developmentally appropriate learning experiences for my students. I plan to continue using Simple K12 Webinars, my PLN and my own explorations of various apps to make this happen.
  • Ways to integrate the Maker movement and robotics
    • I would love to have both of these as part of the technology work my students are engaged in. I believe that tools like MaKey MaKey and LittleBits provide an opportunity to introduce technology as a tool for creation and collaboration in a way that is tangible and exciting for young children.
  • Foreign Languages
    • I hope to continue practicing and expanding my Italian during the upcoming year, as well as building my Spanish skills, primarily through apps like Duolingo and MindSnacks.

Some Big and Little Goals:

  • Continue to be a constant learner
    • I want my learning to include materials and topics I find intriguing but also challenging so I can have a better understanding of how my students feel when they are trying to learn new concepts
    • For example, I hope to explore some new classes in 2013, such as barre and maybe a math-focused MOOC
  • Share more! 
    • I would like to focus on sharing more of my own knowledge and experiences this year, through my PLN, via my blogs and also by running conference sessions
    • To start, I plan to attend #EdCampIS, followed by the Villanova Tech Expo and hopefully another new conference in the summer
    • I will be looking for opportunities to share my learning around tech as a tool for global learning, as well as tech integration ideas for early childhood – if anyone has recommendations for venues or conferences, please let me know! 
  • Create a tech project database:
    • Over the next year, I want to work on creating a project database for my teachers and other educators who are looking for ideas on how to use technology as a tool to enhance their class projects and curricula
    • I hope to make it easier for new tech users to plan and engage in tech integration work by having some concrete examples and tools available
  • Expand my school tech website:
    • I hope to expand my tech website for the students, teachers, and parents at my school to include additional resources  and tech recommendations that are easy to access and navigate. Over time, as I explore more mobile apps, I also intend to add more specifics about how they can be used in the classroom with young children since that is a gap I have seen in what’s currently available online.
  • Make Global Connections
    • An ongoing goal I have is to continue making more global connections so that I can start and facilitate more global collaborative projects among educators and students at my school and around the world.
    • By using ePals, iEARN, the Global Classroom Project and Twitter connections, I hope to make this goal a reality.

Goals