I was back in Ludwig’s class last Friday and was in “role” again as Mr Kingdom from EA Games, back in to assess how the games we have commissioned are coming along. The brief was that the students had to create a game using Scratch that will help others to learn about the Treaty of Waitangi.
It is a amazing to watch how the students have settled into their roles and how they can appreciate that each role is a crucial to the overall success of the project. We have created script writers, artists, programmers and de-buggers. Each member of each group has to be one of these roles on a rotational basis, so that they all have the opportunity to play each of the roles as they create their game.
What is amazing is that the level of complexity in programming continues to increase along with the capacity for each group to problem solve, collaborate and move on. I have also introduced the students to Blockly, which is similar looking to the Scratch interface, but will enable them to build apps. This has proven to be a very motivational focus for some of the students. Mr Kingdom will be back in class on the last day of this current term to ascertain how their work is coming along.
I learned of CargoBot earlier this week and it has become an instant hit with me and the students I have been working with. CargoBot is free and at first glance looks like a game, it is sort of. The difference is that this app is infact an introduction to programming for students. The simple tutorials show you how to use the object blocks to program the crane to move boxes around a warehouse. It rapidly introduces the notion of nested programs and loops. What I particularly like about this app is that your efforts can be recorded as a video which is saved to your image directory, which can then be imported into iMovie, a voice over added and then shared. So not only can students demonstrate how they solved a particular problem and there are lots of tricky ones, but they can also share where they are stuck and call for help.
Interestingly this app was created entirely on an iPad using the Codea app, which is not free! It costs $14:00 and I have downloded that and am working my way through that app to see how easy the language is to master in order that any app can be created within an iPad. Great for schools wanting to develop their own resources or simply as an extension excersise or as a strand to an existing computer studies course.
CargoBot is a great find and one that I think every school based iPad should have on it.
I have been working with a teacher at Wakaaranga over the last couple of months and we have been planning and he has been implementing an open ended programming unit. The students have been given the task of developing a game that will teach other students about some of the facts surrounding the Treaty of Waitangi. Today was my first visit to the class and I was in ‘role.’ I had been invited into the class as “Mr Kingdom” an executive from EA Games who was to assess the appropriateness of the students plans, and embryonic games. I spent some time emphasising how projects such as theirs rely on having good plans and good teams, who all know what they have to do. I was really impressed with how the students reacted to my observations and “Mr Kingdom” will be returning in a fortnight to see just how well they have progressed.