Learning vs. Following Tutorials

One of the biggest concerns is that the students are just following the tutorials and not thinking critically. I think the key is patience – the students have to have some proficiency before they can write code on their own.

In the past, the students conceived a project, however hard, and the teachers supported them. Although this is ideal in many ways, it was difficult to support. Scratch is not a widely held skillset, as it’s a programming language for children. Outside of that, the kids didn’t always have a particular idea for a project, and/or they’d conceptualize an impossible project.

So although the program was great during this “hackerspace” year, I chose proficiency of some basic skills over creative experimentation – for a while. However, in the videos, they are allowed experimentation within the framework. They can customize their space invaders game quite a bit – they design their own ships and invaders, and they’re allowed to take liberties… but frankly, right now the’re working hard just to get the thing working.

For everyone, learning to write code takes longer and requires more repetition than we’d like it to. I feel like I have to learn something 15 times before it really sticks. So this terms we did the Space Invaders framework <<insert picture>>, next term we do “Frogger” as a game framework.

Also. today was encouraging, the students don’t follow the video that closely, and errors arise. So today one student got stuck, saw the correct way to do it, and could see why it didn’t work “Oooohhhhhh, I put “end all” outside of the “forever” loop – that’s why it was stopping.”

So they’re learning.