[squeakland] Re: content from old website

mrsteve squeakland-forum at squeakland.org
Tue Oct 13 00:55:49 EDT 2009

> I think it would be a good idea to browse the old site and list all the
> things we should add to the new one, especially tutorials, documentation
> and anything that helps people getting started. 

I like the "Project Guides" in particular the "Grapher" it gets them thinking about motion and provides a nice "tool to think with"  I particularly like the section at the end of the Grapher Project guide called "Challenges" this should be in every project guide so the kids/parents/teachers have suggestions on how they can build upon and/or use the what they have learned and/or what they created.

The concern I have with the "Salmon Run" project, while it has some powerful ideas embedded into it, the project is more of a follow these steps and watch how I create something. The projects should be more geared towards the kids creating things. Where the guides/projects help introduce some basics to help them use the tool called eToys, but the challenges give them opportunities to do and create math/science/art/literature/history/etc. for themselves.

This is easy to say and really hard to design and facilitate, especially in the hands of folks who may never have been exposed to or do not have a good understanding of the powerful ideas you are trying to convey.

Ideally the Project Guides (for teachers, as opposed for kids and a self paced approach, which is a good idea, but presents different challenges) would provide the Teachers/Parents with a script to follow in leading learning.  Then a set of cue's to look for (ie: "cognitive brick walls/dead ends" kids may go down) and how to recognize them, in concrete terms. Then for each cue, potential scripted responses that can help the child assimilate a new paradigm.

Another piece of content for the Project Guides is to include non-eToys activities as part of the project. For example Papert's having the kids "walk a geometric shape".  I did this with the kids (actually I had them walk a square, and had one kid as a programmer and the other as the sprite with a piece of chalk).  It not only allowed them to use their body knowledge, it also made visible some of what was going on inside their heads.  I then took over as the sprite with chalk, as kids would command turn (and because the sprite kid knew the object was to draw a square, he would turn 90 degrees in the correct direction each time).

Lastly I would suggest very small snippets on how particular objects work, that the kids can explore on their own. Ideally they could access these "Event Theater" tutorials from within eToys, by selecting a menu item or some other method.

While I believe the "Demon Castle" and Etoys challenge are the best "quickstart" guides, that may be the way I learn, I have one son and one student for whom the printable "quickstart" guide on the old site would be helpful.

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(from forum)

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