26 Replies Latest reply on 12-Jul-2018 5:01 AM by aflynn

    Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads

    teachontario.team

      What are your thoughts on having students code games and apps? Is play based learning simply about playing games? How can we foster critical and creative thinking by having students code games?

      Add your own story below.

        • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
          leej

          My story: JLEE on Scratch

           

          One of the challenges with coding that I've noted, is that students (and teachers) may default to a 'trial and error' mode for problem solving their scripts - and not really pay attention to mathematical thinking / reasoning opportunities. 

           

          Teachers need to be prepared with prompts and questions to 'draw out the math'.  For example, students might need to make a script that moves a sprite to a target, but overshoot the goal.  Often I see students randomly switch numbers until they find one that works -- when they could use mathematical reasoning to help make a more educated estimate "My sprite went double the distance I wanted, so I should halve the distance in my script."

            • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
              lkl88

              John, I like how you and Matt both incorporated user input to affect the action of the story. I think this has a lot of potential for students creating interactive stories.

              • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                aspinabr

                I think you are spot on with the focus on "trial and error."

                 

                Many people ask me what language my Grade 8 students code in and are often surprised when I say Scratch (usually they expect me to say something lie Python). The reality is, I am teaching math using Scratch as a tool, rather than teaching students how to write code. I think there is a big difference. Having said this, I hope the skills learned through trial and error and transferred to those challenging math problems.

                • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                  mrsnerino

                  The 'trial and error' comment really stuck with me, too.  While I do see a value in experimenting and failing through trial and error, I agree that teachers do need to be prepared to 'draw out the math' or 'notice and name' in order to support student growth.  Otherwise, the concepts aren't likely to be transferred to new situations. 

                   

                  I wonder if presenting the material slightly differently might be one way to help address these concerns.  What if we ask them to tinker with an already-existing program in order to change or improve it in some way?  As an added support, we could create some guiding questions students can explore.    

                   

                  I love the Remix feature of Scratch, and I think it works well for this purpose.  Here's a Shark and Fish game that I remixed, adding a few problems:

                   

                  shark eating fish game remix on Scratch

                   

                  Questions or issues that could be explored include:

                   

                  ~ What's the purpose of the shark having 2 costumes?  Where could you use this command in another one of your Scratch creations?  ~ The shark's movements are limited in this version.  Find a way to make him move in any direction.  Does this add to the game? 

                  ~ Is the code easy to understand?  Why, or why not?  How would you change it?  Explain.

                   

                   

                  While not explicitly linked to the math underlying the game, questions that push for specifics and allow for tinkering with a purpose might help build a stronger foundation and discourage random trial and error as a main strategy. 

                • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                  mattlet2002

                  For us today, most jobs have a need to know basic computer knowledge and word processing skills.  Future jobs may need a basic understanding of coding.  There is no disadvantage to giving students opportunities to work on coding in school.

                   

                  Play based learning is more than simply playing games.  Although, I have found that there needs to be opportunity to "play" before applying play-based learning to activities.  I learned a long time ago with math manipulatives that students need a period or two just to play with these manipulatives to deal with their natural curiousity.

                   

                  We can foster critical and creative learning by having students solves problems with coding.  Either give students a blank screen to create a story or have them debug pre-created coded stories.  Students have the opportunity to think critically and creatively from creating the code to typing the instructions on how to use the creation.  I saw a presentation from one teacher who had his class create their own "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories using Google Slide.  A similar activity could be done using Scratch.

                   

                  My Story: If Then - Cat Meets Lion on Scratch

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                  • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                    angelo

                    I had a nice time creating my first ever Scratch story. My story can be found at:

                    https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/168247800/

                     

                    I feel that having students code games and apps is very helpful because coding will be a valuable skill for them to have in our ever-changing technology-based culture.

                     

                    Play based learning is more than simply playing games. It is meaningful and intentional, student interest focused, and open ended and allows for higher level thinking and cooperative learning.

                     

                    Critical and creative thinking is excellently fostered by having students code games. This is because the possibilities are endless and the sky is the limit. Children are able to use their imaginations and like in our previous module discussion "create" and "construct" their own learning. What is wonderful about coding is that children, through their own coding creations (i.e., on Scratch and other applications) can help further and spark the learning of others. Multiple cross-curricular connections can be made depending on the topic the student wishes to concentrate on.

                    • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                      lkl88

                      My story is attached. I first tried doing this using angles instead, with the thought of using it to work with angles in the jr. grades, but I found it quite frustrating. It was much cleaner and straightforward to use co-ordinates instead.

                      I wonder about having students draw out their movement ideas on graph paper first, where they can label co-ordinates and/or measure angles manually, as well as  scaled distances. This might help with some of the guessing and trial and error that happens, and encourage more of a mathematical approach.

                      i am rethinking my previous comments about using the tutorials. I still think playing is a great way to start, but perhaps after some time exploring, a tutorial or two might be a good idea! This old brain was rustier than I'd thought!

                       

                      Fetch! on Scratch

                      • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                        christygarrity

                        https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/168305425/

                        It took awhile and a glass of wine but I actually figured out how to attach My Story link.

                        I am not literate when it comes to coding but I know that my K students are asking many questions and exploring on their own. This I one of the reasons that I choose to participate in this course. My K friends last year tried to find an app that would track how many fruits and vegetables that we eat each week. To encourage healthy eating, many years ago we started recording the foods they brought to school and how I could change their eating habits to more healthy choices. We have been doing this each day by making sticks on a chart and counting them up at the end of the week. This activity touches on many of our math goals as well. Each week, they try to surpass their record. At last count, 29 children consumed 470 fruits and vegetables in one week. We also produce ZERO garbage which we track as well. They did not find such an app, so they asked if they could “invent” one. This was the nudge that I needed to find out more. No! Play based learning is not simply about playing games. It is learning through play and inquiry and authentic hands on exploration and making. Though my little friends did invent a few games this year. I believe if children are given the opportunity to look closely at the world they live in, they will identify needs, problems to solve and interests to explore more deeply.

                        I wonder why the Scratch platform isn’t supported on Ipads or devices? You can access the website but cannot create new content? I am hoping that it is just my lack of knowledge that this is the problem. We don’t have access to computers in our classroom and our computer lab is a joke.

                         

                        P3292624.JPG

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                        • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                          mrselin

                          What are your thoughts on having students code games and apps?

                               This is another way to demonstrate understanding. Think 'fish in a tree'. In today's age, does it really matter how you show us what you understand. This is another avenue for communication and discovery, and should be embraced. If I have a student that wants to do this, I say go ahead. There are endless opportunities and possibilities.

                          Is play-based learning simply about playing games?

                          You can learn a lot from playing games. Depending on what you want the students to get out of it (ie. learn, know, discover) the type of game/activity will vary. There is nothing wrong with just playing a game and talking about what you have learned or discover new ideas/thinking.

                          How can we foster critical and creative thinking by having students code games?

                          Challenge them to solve a problem, make it easier for a student to 'do such and such'. Attach to their interests; "What do you find difficult about 'x'? How could you make it more understandable?" Ask them to solve problems that they have a vested interest in.

                           

                          The Story on Scratch

                          • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                            vreinsalu

                            Ah, a few of the traits which I try to foster in my students: perseverance, patience, problem solving, debugging can be developed when remixing Scratch projects. Here the one I played with tonight. I`ll call it ``Dancing with Robert Smith``. I like how one can individualize and still learn the goal and code. This dance is with Robert Smith on Scratch  I`ll try the interactive story too as well as take time to look for how to use the different blocks in order to visualize a number of big ideas in math.  

                             

                            We can foster both critical and creative thinking when having our students code and play games because they are able to individualize and express themselves when trying to accomplish a goal (coding the game with a specific purpose). Critical thinking comes into play whether they are working alone or in groups. They need to ensure their game is clear. They make specific choices, make mistakes, and learn from their errors via debugging and problem solving. Students can also streamline or extend tasks (imagine finding as many blocks as possible to code a simple action - eg. rube goldberg approach). No matter how one views it, students with have fun!

                            • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads

                              After working with Scratch for the first time, I was impressed with how easy the interface is to work with. I can't seem to upload my project here but I will keep trying (I can get the Scratch address for my particular project in this window but cannot get it to act as a clickable hyperlink). I agree with the comments made by some of my colleagues that you would to carefully scaffold the use of Scratch so that students do not lose sight of the underlying mathematical concepts we want them to grasp in working with this program. I can also see how working with Scratch has other benefits for students, beyond the focus on numeracy. For example I could see it developing one's independent work skills if completed as an individual assignment. If completed as a group project, it would develop the student's ability to collaborate with others. In either case it helps the student improve one's frustration tolerance, as one works to debug the program (so to speak) so that the program's output aligns with the vision of its author(s).

                              • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                                rplant

                                I think having students code games is incredibly important! It is like a behind the scenes look at how things work. When you know how things work you develop a new appreciation for that as well as other related items. For example, when you know how to build a Lego airplane with a kit, it allows you to understand a little more how Lego works and how each piece plays an important role. Eventually you will be able to build your own Lego airplane without the ‘kit’ or instructions, because you understand the process. I am sure there are many better examples than that… I just can’t think at the moment with my 3-year-old playing Lego at my feet and asking what his creation looks like every 3 seconds! Ha ha ha

                                 

                                I think that Play based learning is much more than just playing! I think that if implemented properly students have the ability to learn, explore and deepen their understanding of the world around them invaluably. Think there was originally a disconnect between educators and the all-day every day kindergarten program when it first came out as “play based” learning. I was a kindergarten teacher at the time and there was very little direction as to what this meant and how to make it truly meaningful for students. Now there seems to be a much clearer goal in site and kindergarten teachers are not the only ones on the wagon… Many classroom teachers are implementing this type of learning in the classroom at varying grade levels across the board. I think the big change recently in some of the older grades is the STEM implementation. However, I think that this is a step in the right direction. For me, the initial push out of my comfort zone began with our boards math focus a few years ago. Once I changed the way I taught math, it changed the way I looked at assessment, which changed the way I looked at teaching and learning in general. I hope that I can inspire some new staff members to get aboard the train that our school started a few years back and help up move forward into a generation of teachers that puts learning before teaching!

                                • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                                  charlandl

                                  What are your thoughts on having students code games and apps?

                                  I did introduce my grade 7 students to scratch jr this year.  They had the app on their iPad and were allowed to use it once their work was done or during the morning routine.  Lots of students took to it real fast and continued to program/play with it the whole year.  However, I did no teaching of how to code (as I didn't know more on how to code) and they helped each other.  The collaboration, the trial and error, the communication is what I did see.  However, ideas on how to implement something I can evaluate or my curriculum in there is where I lack.

                                   

                                  Is play based learning simply about playing games?

                                  There are many skills learnt while playing games; collaboration, communication, acceptance of others help / opinion, initiative....all our HH on the report card.

                                   

                                  How can we foster critical and creative thinking by having students code games?

                                  Creativity: by inventing, by creating new things, by giving just the basic of what we want but they have to come up with the rest

                                  Critical: by analysing the codes, by trying to find different ways of doing the same thing (maybe something more efficient).

                                   

                                  Add your own story below.

                                  I didn't have time to do one yet (but I will), because I am camping and catching up on the course when I can.

                                    • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                                      mrsnerino

                                      I like the idea that we can find different ways of doing the same thing, some maybe more efficient or more suited to one situation or another.  To me, it's all about the ability to be flexible, try different strategies, and adjust when necessary.  It's similar to when students first learn a method and want to use it in every situation, whether that be counting by 1s in math, or using the first letter sound in reading.  It's not that those methods are wrong, and in some cases, they'll be the quickest way to accomplish a goal.  But those methods aren't the only methods -- and by encouraging students to find a different way, we're communicating that different ideas and different ways of seeing things are important. 

                                    • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                                      mpetrella2

                                      “What’s new in the 21st century is the call for education systems to emphasize and develop these competencies in explicit and intentional ways through deliberate changes in curriculum design” (21st Century Competencies).  This document discusses the importance of providing our students with opportunities to solve messy, complex problems associated with living competitive, globally connected and technologically intensive world. Providing students with the opportunity to code enables students to be productive citizens. Scratch can be used for multiple purposes.   Allowing students to investigate, explore, reflect, decompose and create projects. Teachers can guide students to utilize scratch as a tool for learning mathematics. Coding a game or story is fun way to learn math, at the same time students are becoming actively engaged citizens.  Creativity is developed because they are making their own designs.  Critical thinking skills are utilized when trying to “fix” the code to make their game or story successful. When coding, students are consistently in trial and error mode, important skills for students to build resiliency and grit. These competencies, learned when coding, will enable learners to face complex challenges now and in the future.

                                      • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                                        mrsnerino

                                        What are your thoughts on having students code games and apps?

                                        I think that having students code games and apps can be an effective means to explore a variety of curriculum areas.  At the same time, we need to be clear on our purpose and goals as educators.  Are we using coding as a tool to communicate, create and explore?  Or is the goal to teach students how to code?  Both goals might be valid, but in the end, I think many teachers want to teach how to learn, and coding presents some unique activities in that regard. 

                                        Is play based learning simply about playing games?

                                        No, but it is about providing a developmentally appropriate, rich, nurturing environment in which authentic learning can happen.  Tinkering, making and playing games can be components of such a program.

                                        How can we foster critical and creative thinking by having students code games?

                                        As the articles and videos we've reviewed demonstrate, authentic, meaningful learning occurs when we acknowledge what capabilities the student already has.  By providing students with gaming opportunities, we're broadening our view of what's important and what matters.  Many steps of the inquiry process are built into a coding experience, and we're giving students a new way to communicate thoughts, opinions and ideas. 

                                        • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                                          sunnyblonde

                                          I do like the scratch program and want to use it with my students- esp when they claim the have nothing to do.  Having said that, coding is frustrating for those of us with ADHD.  I did create a short story in Scratch but when I uploaded it to my computer I couldn't open it.  (I did manage to work through why something didn't go as I had hoped - and then it did go as I had hoped).  I uploaded an app to open it and I think it might be trying to hack my computer. *sigh*

                                           

                                          I am curious as to why we need to draw out the math in coding?  I plan to do it in English class and, quite honesty, couldn't careless about the math in  coding.

                                            • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                                              mrsnerino

                                              Hi Sarah,

                                               

                                              You raise an interesting point.  Scratch can be used in lots of different subject areas, and if we jump right to the math, we might be turning off some students who have had previous negative experiences with math.  I think that one of the reasons it might be appropriate to let students mess around with the program on their own, first.  If Scratch is being used in math class, then at some point, I would definitely draw out the math and highlight key concepts.  Scratch is one tool to develop a better understanding. 

                                               

                                              If I was using it in another class, like English or History, drawing out the math behind the coding wouldn't be my main concern.  However, as the students became more comfortable, and needed to learn a new Scratch skill to complete assignments, I think I would support students in finding and analyzing any patterns they see, or testing out a hypothesis about how something might work.  I might encourage them to think about the relationships in the numbers.  I think it's important for students to develop a broader view of 'math' that's more open, visual and creative -- and this might be one way to do that. 

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                                            • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                                              madame_hass

                                              The first comment that I would like to add to this post is that there is a difference between game based learning and gamification. Having run a gamified classroom for over three years, I can say that there is value in gamifiying a classroom. Teaching students how to code games and apps give them a set of skill that cannot be duplicated. Two years ago, I read a novel in the class and the students used RPG Maker VXAce to recreate the main events of the story. They were excited, engaged, and every student regardless of identification created something.

                                              When students are given a task to create an app or to create a game, they encounter problems which they need to solve. Through the problem-solving process, they are collaborating and sharing their ideas and strategies. When my students are creating in such a method, I see them shine and stretch out beyond the expectations.

                                              I think the best answer to the questions posed is: each of these skills and resources is beneficial when the teacher understand how they are supporting student learning and pushing them forward. When the tools are being used in lieu of teaching then they will fall short of the learning goals.

                                              • Re: Module Four: Consolidation Discussion Threads
                                                aflynn

                                                I gather I am lost in the 2017 online course. But it is July 2018. No matter. I am interested in Scratch purely for supporting literacy reasons and for giving opportunities to students to become comfortable wih coding, for future career opportunities. I teach and live in Moosonee. The place could become a coding capital for James Bay. Help break the seemingly fixed code of social structure failure, people's depression, addiction, effects of historical horrors....

                                                I made this story in 2016. About Me on Scratch . No time right now, today, to relearn and I have no clue how I did this story, but I did it by myself while I was attending a middle school elective class for a month.....