[etoys-dev] (SQ-749) and Kathleen's question on "What do you mean by Artifacts?"
sthomas1 at gosargon.com
Mon Aug 23 13:59:02 EDT 2010
Minor point of clarification, it works when you change the width of the text
Object and center the text, which is the solution Bert came up with and I
will use for now.
It doesn't work if you unless you change the width attribute of the text
object and center the text. See attached screenshot.
See attached screenshot[image: Screen shot 2010-08-23 at 1.51.53 PM.png]
On Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 11:23 AM, Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Hi Stephen
> It seems to work (see attached picture).
> Remember that "text is text", if you want to use it as a label then you can
> center it by using the FF menu.
> *From:* Steve Thomas <sthomas1 at gosargon.com>
> *To:* Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com>
> *Cc:* Bert Freudenberg <bert at freudenbergs.de>; Kathleen Harness <
> kharness at illinois.edu>; etoys-dev <etoys-dev at squeakland.org>; squeakland <
> squeakland at squeakland.org>
> *Sent:* Mon, August 23, 2010 5:48:07 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [etoys-dev] (SQ-749) and Kathleen's question on "What do
> you mean by Artifacts?"
> On Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 7:57 AM, Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> I think I'm not understanding your graphing example. It is "pretty easy"
>> to position text objects containing numbers (you can adjust the centers of
>> any object and the x and y coordinates can have some arithmetic done to them
>> with results put in the numeric value). Please give me more info here.
> The problem seems to be only with centering 1 character text. To recreate,
> draw a vertical line, create a text object "1" and set both to the the same
> X value. Two or more characters align and are not an issue.
>> *From:* Steve Thomas <sthomas1 at gosargon.com>
>> *To:* Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com>; Bert Freudenberg <
>> bert at freudenbergs.de>; Kathleen Harness <kharness at illinois.edu>
>> *Cc:* etoys-dev <etoys-dev at squeakland.org>; squeakland <
>> squeakland at squeakland.org>
>> *Sent:* Sun, August 22, 2010 8:37:21 PM
>> *Subject:* Re: [etoys-dev] (SQ-749) and Kathleen's question on "What do
>> you mean by Artifacts?"
>> Hi Alan,
>> On Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 12:54 PM, Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>> A good slogan for teaching, pedagogy, and curriculum design is "When
>>> should it be easy, and when should it be hard?".
>> This, for me at least, is hard to figure out ahead of time when designing
>> a lesson. I am much better when I interact with the kids and can improvise
>> on the spot.
>>> The notion here is that for education to be transformative, you wind up
>>> as a different "better" person than you were, and this means that certain
>>> difficulties were very important to your learning -- the stuff that was
>>> "easy" you could already do (and some of the easy stuff is not what you want
>>> to aim at). Building knowledge and skills to get fluent at handling
>>> difficulties (and in some case rendering them non-difficult) is a key for
>>> much important learning.
>>> On the other hand, gratiutous non-productive difficulties are to be
>>> avoided because they generally both distract and occupy " thinking chunks"
>>> that one needs for the important stuff.
>>> (I don't recognize my quote that was paraphrased)
>> It comes from a video I found in the Bell Labs library around 84-86 (not
>> sure of video date). You were talking about User Interface design and my
>> biological memory recalls you refering to using a mouse and saying "If I can
>> do it in one click, I'll do it. If it takes two clicks, I might do it. If
>> it takes three or more clicks, I probably won't do it". I have used and
>> attributed it to you a number of times since. If I am in error please let me
>> know and I will self correct.
>> I really could use Gorden Bell's E-Memory. Hopefully you are heeding his
>> advice and collecting your E-memory so that we may search and study it. One
>> way to do this is anytime you give an interview, presentation etc where it
>> is recorded, request a copy of the recording and all rights to distribute as
>> you see fit. Also be sure they video your presentation and not just you so
>> we can see what you are referring to. It would be nice if we had text
>> versions of those interviews. I am working on transcribing the interview you
>> gave at Natural math<http://mathfuture.wikispaces.com/Important+questions> and
>> its time consuming. I have a friend who works on Google speech recognition
>> software and would try and send him a copy, but Ellumintate doesn't seem to
>> have a way to extract the audio.
>>> Adults tend to be the biggest problems when trying to help children learn
>>> things. It's the adults who generally don't want to do the work and don't
>>> see many things as fun. Kids (and people in general) can spend a lot of time
>>> focussed and doing when they are having fun.
>> If not Adults, who? If the goal is transformation I see Adults as part of
>> the solution. So does labeling them as part of the problem (which I am NOT
>> disagreeing with) help or hinder transformation?
>>> I ask this because I see a lot of teacher bashing which I believe hinders
>> our cause much more than helps it.
>> Another choice besides adults is older kids, I have seen this succesfully
>> used in Scouting and in a public speaking conference my kids attended this
>> past weekend. They tend to listen to older kids more and the older kids
>> realize the importance of fun. The key here, as with adults, is guidance and
>>> Constructivism (one of many such terms I don't use because they have lost
>>> their meanings) doesn't mean discovery from scratch (this is a huge
>>> confusion many people have), but does mean "understand and clarifying by
>>> making a careful descriptive model".
>>> This can be done with English and writing (it is what descriptive,
>>> expositional, and argumentative writing are supposed to be about). It can be
>>> done with mathematics. It can be done in many cases with physical
>>> construction materials. And a lot can be done in terms of computer programs.
>> Thank you I really hadn't thought of this before and it is an excellent
>> point (ie: something I can use with my kids).
>>> I will look for ways my kids can learn this.
>>> I like the Montessori curriculum approach of making a carefully designed
>>> environment for the chilldren that allows choice on their part and allows
>>> limited the degrees of freedom on the educator's part.
>> The problem I struggle with is how to design the environment and what
>> games, playthinks, problems, etc to use.
>>> One of the best projects we've ever designed is the Galilean Gravity one
>>> -- and it illustrates what you have to do with guidance on the one hand and
>>> space to play on the other to enormously raise the probability that most
>>> children will be able to see and understand what is going on without having
>>> to give them the "answer" to memorize.
>> I love that project and I find it extremely frustrating. Frustrating
>> because I really want to do it with my kids, but it is really really hard to
>> do in Etoys. The hard part being importing the video. The reason for this I
>> believe is that the video player only supports MPEG.
>>> The idea that kids take their own videos and then analyze them is an
>> excellent approach. Avigail Snir had a wonderful example of using video at
>> Squeakfest. But as I understand it, even she had a lot of problems trying
>> to convert the video into MPEG and even more frustrating is she is having
>> trouble sharing it with the world so other teachers could see it and be
>> One of the keys in the early Montessori schools was the intense
>>> comprehensive training of the Montessori teachers -- and the lack of the
>>> equivalent of this in most of today's schools is a huge problem.
>> I have also been thinking about using scripts (the theatrical kind) and
>> cue's to look for with scripted responses as a way of teaching. Perhaps
>> Actors would be good teachers hmmmm need to flesh out the idea more.
>>> The scripts in Etoys are independent of the visible appearance of the
>>> object they are attached to (the objects' "costumes" can be changed at will
>>> -- and this is how "frame animation" is done in Etoys).
>> I'm not quite understanding what it is that you would like for teachers
>>> beyond a repository of projects with extensive notes about how they were
>>> made and how to make them.
>> A repository of projects is good, but I would add a repository of objects,
>> sets of objects and scripts. Ie: I think unit of "things you can
>> share/store/easily re-use" is too large. I write this then ask myself, why
>> do I feel this way? I think it goes back to the point you verbalized much
>> better than me "It gets annoying after the first few times". I may be
>> thinking of what you refer to later in the email as "packaging up" a
>> I would like to be able to re-use and share those solutions (especially
>> since Etoys lets me look inside and modify them). The ability to look inside
>> and modify them is why I would prefer "artifacts" (as discussed in previous
>> emails and built by Hilaire as part of iStoa) be created with scripting
>> tiles as opposed to doing so in squeak. This would allow teacher to build a
>> set of virtual manipulatives that others could modify or just look inside
>> and figure out how they work. One response I received was that this would
>> not scale, but frankly I don't understand why not.
>> "Packaging a solution" would also let you develop a curriculum where kids
>> built their own tools (ex: a graphing tool) and re-use them in other
>> projects. The one tricky part of the graphing tool is labeling the number
>> lines (trying to align the text is hard, at least I have not found a simple
>> solution) so perhaps a number line object would be needed.
>>> If "learning by making" is a good idea, then shouldn't teachers learn new
>>> ideas about Etoys by making them (but with lots of guidance)?
>> Okay my turn to not quite understand: Yes I agree "learning by making" is
>> a good idea. But should teachers and learners have to make everything
>> from first principles? Who has the time?
>> Would teachers not benefit from using "great literture" created by people
>> who were PUFx's (ie: had a Profound Understanding of Fundamental <subject
>>> I have a friend at work who while at Stanford and did very well in
>> Organic Chemistry, he thought the reason he did so well was he had 7 or 8
>> core concepts from which he could derive the rest. He decided to try and
>> teach those concepts and when and how to use them to some of the other
>> students to see if they could use them and "transform". It worked well and
>> I think this idea has some merit. Unfortunately he had a head injury and
>> can't remember them. My challenge is to find sets of core ideas and how to
>> use them, then figure out how to present them in an age appropriate manner.
>> I also think you made a good point in the Natural Math interview when you
>> mentioned Seymour Papert's comment that it doesn't much matter what
>> mathematics we teach them as long as they are learning to reason like a
>> On the other hand, there are any number of things in the Etoys design
>>> itself that could be vastly improved to help both adult and child learning,
>>> and also for them to make better extensions.
>> Yes, the question I am struggling with are which are the important ones
>> worth doing first. To think about that I am considering imposing upon myself
>> something similar to the Warren Buffet advise to "give myself a ticket with
>> only twenty slots in it so that you had twenty punches - representing all
>> the investments I could make in a lifetime". I think instead I will try and
>> limit myself to three requests for the rest of the year. Those who know me
>> know how hard it will be to impose that constraint. But one way would be
>> allow myself to discuss many possible improvement (which helps me think
>> about them) and then only pick three to request.
>>> For example, I do all my talk presentations using Etoys and I write
>>> scripts to sequence "builds" of additive visual material to the slide
>>> (Powerpoint has a feature for doing this that is more convenient for some
>>> goals and simply won't allow others). It is very instructive to do this by
>>> hand a few times, and then gets annoying.
>>> Etoys does not have a good extension mechanism for "packaging up" a
>>> solution to "slide builds" that can then be used as a feature. This is a
>>> real sin against our own precepts. The lack of it is due to EToys being
>>> thought of as temporary and of limited scope at Disney. It is terrible that
>>> we don't have it now.
>> I think Ricardo's GSoC Morph I/O may help solve at least part of the
>> problem. You can save an object (including a playfield and its embedded
>> objects) in a file and import it later. I have used it a number of times and
>> find it very useful.
>> Why don't we do it now? Because we've been trying to move on to the next
>>> design since before OLPC came along. And so forth.
>> I look forward to seeing the next design (I have only caught glimpses from
>> what I have read on the VPRI site and reading into emails and
>> discussions). Is there a time frame when we can expect to see it?
>> All that said, I think the most important thing to work on now is great
>> content (projects, lesson plans, screencasts, etc.)
>> Many Cheers for all you have done and continue to do,
>>> *From:* Steve Thomas <sthomas1 at gosargon.com>
>>> *To:* Bert Freudenberg <bert at freudenbergs.de>; Kathleen Harness <
>>> kharness at illinois.edu>
>>> *Cc:* etoys-dev dev <etoys-dev at squeakland.org>; squeakland <
>>> squeakland at squeakland.org>; Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com>
>>> *Sent:* Thu, August 12, 2010 8:11:46 AM
>>> *Subject:* Re: [etoys-dev] (SQ-749) and Kathleen's question on "What do
>>> you mean by Artifacts?"
>>> I have been reading Alan Kay's Thoughts About Teaching Science and
>>> Mathematics To Young Children<http://www.vpri.org/pdf/m2007003a_thoughts.pdf>
>>>> I think one of the trickiest issues in this kind of design is an analogy
>>>> to the learning of science itself, and that is *"how much should the
>>>> learners/users have to do by themselves vs. how much should the
>>>> curriculum/system do for them?"* Most computer users have been mostly
>>>> exposed to "productivity tools" in which as many things as possible have
>>>> been done for them. The kinds of educational environments we are talking
>>>> about here are a*t their best when the learner does the important parts
>>>> by themselves, and any black or translucent boxes serve only on the side and
>>>> not at the center of the learning.* What is the center and *what is the
>>>> side will shift as the learning progresses, and this has to be accommodated.
>>> By exposing everything in Etoys as "First Principles" (which in this
>>> particular case I understand to mean, that we have a minimal set of
>>> scripting tiles and objects from which everything can be built) we avoid the
>>> "productivity tools" issue because everything is exposed. It is also a
>>> beautiful, elegant and exposes a powerful idea.
>>> The challenge in a system where everything is done from "First
>>> Principles" is that when you are designing an"educational
>>> environment" "lesson", or "Artifact" ( better terms might be "playthink"
>>> and/or "tool to think with"), it can take a lot of work to build those
>>> preferably translucent boxes. And to paraphrase another Alan Kay quote on
>>> user interface design: "If it takes one step I'll do it, If it takes two
>>> steps I might do it, if it takes three or more steps forget about it!"
>>> No, I am not arguing to make things easy for everyone, we need find ways
>>> to get kids to have "hard fun." Hard work and ragging a problem are good
>>> habits. I also strongly believe that giving kids a "blank canvas" and a
>>> great set of brushes and paints is an excellent and preffered method, but
>>> not the only one we should use.
>>> I am arguing (and struggling) with is how in a "First Principle" system
>>> like Etoys, we can find ways to make it easier for teachers/designers (ie:
>>> make them more productive). I fear I see in some folks (none on this email
>>> list of course) a tendency towards what I initially saw (and fell into
>>> myself) as the constructivism trap. Where I encountered people who thought
>>> kids should construct all knowledge themselves from Scratch (pun intended
>>> ;). As I recall Alan (and others pointing out) we can't expect kids to do
>>> that, they will repeat the same mistakes people did over thousands of years.
>>> My initial thoughts are a repository of Artifacts that teachers can use
>>> along with a set of scripts (the problem with the set of scripts idea is
>>> that the scripts in Etoys are not decoupled from the ?morphs? (not sure of
>>> the correct term here, but basically the pixels visually representing the
>>> object). Bert's idea that we have a Player Variable and the scripts that
>>> operate on it is a good one, but I think there may be some bugs there, need
>>> to test more.
>>> Now I will more directly address Kathleen's question: "What do you mean
>>> by "Artifacts".
>>> I will switch from "Artifacts" to the term "Playthinks" (which I
>>> encountered in the "The Big Book of Brain Games<http://www.amazon.com/Big-Book-Brain-Games-Mathematics/dp/0761134662>"
>>> by Ivan Moscovich).
>>> One of the best and simplest "Playthinks" for teaching I ever encountered
>>> was Robert B. Davis' classroom warm-up (which I showed at Squeakfest and
>>> have wrote about here<http://mrstevesscience.blogspot.com/2009/12/taking-tic-tac-toe-to-next-level-if-you.html>.)
>>> Basically it involves drawing on the board a 4 x 4 grid
>>> . . . .
>>> . . . .
>>> . . . .
>>> . . . .
>>> Then having kids pick two numbers and using those two numbers as X and Y
>>> counting from 0 at the origin point in the lower left and then If they land
>>> on the board marking an X or O until one team wins. Some of the keys to
>>> this "Playthink" are:
>>> - you let kids puzzle it out for themselves, they figure out the
>>> rules, you don't tell them
>>> - it contains a powerful idea
>>> - it can be easily extended to other concepts (negative numbers, a
>>> number is all the ways you can name it, is this game fair ...)
>>> - *its fun *
>>> Other examples of "Playthinks" would be cuisenaire rods, pentagrams, area
>>> blocks, other good "virtual manipulatives" and my feeble attempts Circle
>>> Explorer <http://www.squeakland.org/showcase/project.jsp?id=10212> and Pattern
>>> Blocks and Tools<http://www.squeakland.org/showcase/project.jsp?id=10216>
>>> *Bert*, your comments on SQ-749 sparked my writing this, I will address
>>> it more specifically in a separate email after some more thought.
>>> Including *Alan* so he can correct any misinterpretations and hopefully
>>> FYI: A lot of other excelent writings from VPRI are here<http://www.vpri.org/html/writings.php>,
>>> most are Computer Science related but a number deal with educational issues
>>> and Etoys.
>>> On Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 5:02 AM, Bert Freudenberg <bert at freudenbergs.de>wrote:
>>>> On 12.08.2010, at 10:32, Steve Thomas wrote:
>>>> > On Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 3:32 AM, Bert Freudenberg <
>>>> bert at freudenbergs.de> wrote:
>>>> >> This would likely be simple to implement, but could break existing
>>>> projects. E.g. the morphing stuff in the showcase. Maybe you could take a
>>>> > Checked "Morphing" by Kazuhiro Abe and that should be fine. Each
>>>> Polygon in the holder has the same number of vertices and the script simple
>>>> changes the positions of the vertices one at a time.
>>>> > "The Walkers" and associated remixes by P.A. Dreyfus uses a special
>>>> category "morphing" which would be great to get into Etoys (although I would
>>>> suggest the addition of some way to show/manage the frames) to make the
>>>> invisible more visible and to make it easier to create these kind of
>>>> animations. Anyway, whether this would be a problem or not depends on how it
>>>> is implemented. If he stores complete information about the polygon in each
>>>> frame, I see no problems. If he only stores differences and
>>>> adds/removes/repositions each vertex that MAY cause a problem.
>>>> > Anyway if it is a simple change and you can make it, I think I can
>>>> easily test the change by opening the project, then file-in the changes and
>>>> see if anything breaks. Or you could also ask P.A. Dreyfus (master of
>>>> polygon's and connectors) what he thinks as he knows and can check the
>>>> changes against his implementation.
>>>> > Stephen
>>>> Thinking about this more I do not like the proposal. It would makes the
>>>> system less predictable.
>>>> Having the new vertex remain at the same position is the only sensible
>>>> choice. It matches the "copy" behavior of regular objects, which also appear
>>>> in the same position. It would not scale anyway - see this image where I
>>>> only inserted 4 vertices. The position quickly converges to the next vertex
>>>> Also, I'd argue that "add a vertex at beginning" and "add a vertex at
>>>> end" tiles are not needed in the first place. To be useful they would, as
>>>> you noticed, have to be "set cursor to beginning and insert vertex" and "set
>>>> cursor to end and insert vertex", because otherwise one cannot assign their
>>>> position immediately. But that makes them perform two operations that are
>>>> available separately. There is no good reason to coalesce those steps into
>>>> In any case, inserting a vertex should not change the cursor. If you
>>>> want a cursor change to occur, insert a tile.
>>>> So my counter-proposal is: remove the "add vertex at beginning" and "add
>>>> vertex at end" tiles. (to not break existing projects, the tiles would only
>>>> be hidden)
>>>> - Bert -
>>>> etoys-dev mailing list
>>>> etoys-dev at squeakland.org
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