Programming in the Classroom

At the DENSI2012 conference, David Warlick opened on July 23rd with many thought provoking topics. The main points ruminating afterward are that education needs to be:

  • responsive
  • provoke questions and curiosity
  • open ended with opportunities for conversation
  • make it possible to safely make mistakes

Sounds easy enough (and fun for teachers & students).  Are there great tools to allow students to ask questions, problem solve creatively, and safely make mistakes?

During the keynote, David introduced Scratch.  Scratch is a programming language made by MIT which makes programming accessible to anyone. Chris Betchler says in his blog that students,

“really seem to engage with the big ideas of programming – problem solving, thinking mathematically and using logic and reasoning. It’s the practical application of those ideas and the creative thinking required to solve authentic problems that forms the basis of a truly engaging learning experience.  While I don’t believe that everyone necessarily needs to become a computer programmer, I do think that everyone would benefit from learning the basic skills and mental gymnastics required to write simple computer programs.  I’ve found it to be an incredibly useful skill”.

Alice is another programming game.  “Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web.”1

Making a programming activity a part of your weekly classroom routine will provide valuable collateral learning that can be applied in the curriculum and will motivate students while they are learning.

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