Last week (#TeachTheWeb week 4), I had an opportunity to build a new Thimble project outlining my goals for teaching coding in kindergarten. Some of you might be surprised to hear kindergarten at the end of that sentence. I’ve heard some people say it’s way too young for kids to have to learn something like coding and I’ve heard others say that there’s no way such young children can grasp the concepts.
My response is that, like everything else in early childhood, the key comes back to developmentally appropriate practice, which involves respecting the child’s interests and curiosities as well as her or his individual abilities and limits. Luckily, more and more resources are being developed that are developmentally appropriate for young children. For many years, Scratch has been a go-to resource for educators working with young children who wanted to be makers and creators of technology (and art, stories, music, and more!). Unfortunately, Scratch is specifically built for children age eight an older, although much younger students have used it (check out these examples).
While Scratch Jr. is in the works, other developers have been working hard to create games and tools to scaffold children’s learning of computer programming logic and problem solving, the true foundation of coding (see the resources embedded here). The DevTech group is even working on a coding language that can be constructed with physical, wooden blocks and read by a camera. Once students are exposed to these (potentially literal) building blocks, they can begin to work off of that foundation and create their own programs and games.
Tangible Coding Blocks using CHER-P.
Image credit: DevTech TangibleK
I built my Thimble project to help raise awareness about the fact that resources do currently exist for young children to learn the logic of programming and the basics concepts (e.g., what is a function, how to make an object/sprite move). I also wanted to share the tools I’ve found to support this learning so that others could use them as well and my hope was to then connect with other people who are doing similar work.
Over the summer, I plan to spend more time creating plans, finding resources, and talking with others interested in introducing coding to young children. Being part of Teach the Web has also inspired me to try and create more Thimble resources and maybe even an entire Hackable Kit that others can build off of and remix to work with different ages and groups. I realized that if I want my students (and colleagues) to be creating and remixing the web, I need to be modeling that work by constantly interacting and exploring hacker tools, coding the web myself, and sharing my work openly with a larger community.
Posted in Reflections, Tech Resources
Tagged #teachtheweb, Developmentally Appropriate Practice, early childhood, education, Hackable kit, Kindergarten, kindergarten coding, learning, logic, MOOC, Mozilla, programming, resources, scaffold, Scratch (programming language), Teach the Web, thimble
The second week of the Teach the Web MOOC focused on remixing. I was excited about this topic because it’s an area I’ve just begun to explore and engage with on the web. It’s interesting how infused remixing is into our daily work as children (e.g., re-making someone’s Lego creation or making variations of a local building as a fort) or even adults (e.g., remixing a marketing approach to work for your brand) and yet how foreign it can feel when addressed head-on as the focus of an activity or lesson.
When I first thought about what type of project I would remix, I thought it would probably have to be a Popcorn video because the Thimble projects were all personal profiles/bios and they couldn’t really be changed – right?
Then, I joined the the weekly Twitter chat, which began with a focus on remixing. Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax) asked a great question, “Can (should) we remix anything?” A number of participants discussed the nuances between remixing something with permission and remixing as a form of collaboration versus remixing as appropriation (with and without permission). When someone remixes your work that you’ve asked not to be changed using a Creative Commons license or when someone hacks in and makes changes for their own enjoyment at your loss, remix become a much less friendly word.
In contrast, @dogtrax took a direct request from me about wanting to be remixed and in true #TeachTheWeb spirit, created something awesome and inspiring. He even sent out a tweet and G+ message encouraging other MOOC participants to remix and hack my Thimble introduction. He created the page below using Mozilla’s X-Ray Goggles from the Hackasaurus Toolkit.
And then Doug Waters remixed that remix!
So of course, now inspired, I had to hack a Thimble page of my own! I chose someone from our #MiniMaker G+ Study Group. Here’s my update to Karen Young’s Thimble Intro:
After being hacked myself, I had a better understanding of the process and how creative I could be in doing it using someone else’s profile. I had a chance to consider how remixing could help me get to know a person better and how it can be an entry point for using a new tool. Similar to my experience remixing a project in Scratch for the #MediaLabCourse I learned more about the X-Ray Googles and what they’re capable of as well as more about Thimble, by remixing. I’m excited to try Popcorn for my next remixing project and to continue thinking about hacking as we move into week 3 of #TeachTheWeb and discussions of the Open Web.
Posted in Reflections, Tech Tools
Tagged #medialabcourse, #teachtheweb, Creative Commons license, education, Google, hack, hackasaurus, Higher education, learning, Lego, lego creation, Massive open online course, Minimaker, MOOC, Mozilla, new tool, open web, Popcorn, remix, remixing, thimble, Twitter, twitter chat, World Wide Web, x-ray goggles