[squeakland] Best way to use Etoys 4

K. K. Subramaniam subbukk at gmail.com
Thu Oct 29 09:53:52 EDT 2009

On Wednesday 28 October 2009 02:36:13 pm Carlos Rabassa wrote:
> What recommendations would Etoys - experienced teachers and the
> creators of Etoys give to teachers who are just starting to use Etoys
> in their classrooms?
Etoys is a powerful learning environment. People need time to get used to this 
environment. The toys in the catalog are based on metaphors that may not 
correspond to objects encountered by children in daily life in your region. So 
make sure teachers (and students) get lots of time to play with it and 
establish their own metaphors. For instance, some children may prefer to think 
of "lasso" as "scissors".

Not all features are discoverable through exploration. So guidance is 
necessary for such advanced features. For instance, Etoys can also exist on 
screen without being "visible". The object can be transparent, hidden or use a 
camouflage costume. You could immerse a piece of glass in water to illustrate 
such features.

BTW, Etoys is a "classroom" ;-).

> How much should they do and how much should they ask the students to do?
Initially it is very much co-exploration. Teachers have the advantage of 
experience, but fear of accidents may hold them back. Children, with unbridled 
curiousity, explore freely without fear and discover "features" faster than 
adults. But they also get distracted easily.

One way to work around such issues is for teachers to initiate a project on a 
particular topic (e.g. water conservation) and then get the students to 
elaborate it further. Learning happens while "doing" projects.

> What is the best way to ask the class to do a project?
The best way is best left to teachers and local practices :-). I assist 
teachers only on the mechanics of Etoys. I encourage them to ask "how to..." 
rather than "what is the best way..".

Most teachers use activities (like paper craft, beads, ball game etc.) for 
concept development. I help teachers model those same activities in Etoys. 
Children get to redo the same activities in Etoys and then go on to discover 
the extra capabilities in the digital environment.

For instance, a given count of beads are arranged in a rectangular shape to 
discover factors. The same can be done by resizing a holder with objects. This 
experiment is much easier (and faster) in Etoys.

Or a teacher can get students to drop a ball and trace its locus on a wall and 
then create this model in Etoys. Once this is done, students can study how 
different gravitational forces affect the movement.

> How do experienced evaluators rank projects?
> Where do they look for value in a project?
I am not sure if Etoys projects can be evaluated this way. The value is in the 
thinking ("debugging") that goes into a project. Of course, it is possible to 
create a project specifically for evaluation (e.g. an essay or a diagram). In 
this case, Etoys is just an digital editor.

It is nice to get in touch with school supporters around the world. Thanks for 
reaching out.

Regards .. Subbu

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