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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Our Non Traditional Library

Our Learning Resources Centre/Library could never be called quiet or traditional. There is always something going on and more than likely lots of things going on all at once, and the noise level reflects this. In fact the learning that goes on here is a far cry from that of the regular four walled classroom, and that's just perfect. Our teachers are quite comfortable with this and the students take to it naturally. The facility remains heavily booked each week.

While some directed teaching still takes place during introductions to lessons, the majority of the learning happens out on the floor of the LRC, as individuals and groups  supported by their teachers, pursue their various tasks at the iMacs, using laptops, and an array of other digital equipment.

Our latest addition to the library are some very comfy beanbag chairs. It's definitely high on the cool meter to hear the exclamations, "BEAN BAGS"(even from the older ones) and observe the students getting as comfortable as possible, as they embark on the important business of learning.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Scratch Wows (No I Haven't Fallen off the face of the Planet-yet!)

I have been all over the place, virtually since the Christmas Break ended and haven't had much time to write about it. At least that is the excuse I have been giving myself for my lack of focus in sitting down and reflecting.

I wanted to come back to Scratch for a moment however, and discuss wow moments.,

We finished up our scratch unit just before Christmas with the 7th grade students. These kids really enjoyed their Scratch experience and created some interesting projects to tinker with. The majority of these projects have now been uploaded to the ABCICT Scratch Gallery.

The wow moment with 7th grade was when the kids came in in the second lesson and wanted to get to their projects immediately. It was fantastic to see just how motivated they were, and be able to work closely with them in supporting the range of projects in the works. It was very much a case of students taking what they had learned and moving in their own directions. This  lead them to further learning experiences uniquely tailored to their own interests and programming requirements.

Scratch definitely provides for differentiation based not not only the individual's ability, but also personal preferences.

The second wow moment came the day after I introduced Scratch to one 8th grade class. A student came up to me after school to tell me how cool he thought the program was and to ask for help. After the first lesson, he had set himself the task of creating a Mario Bros. type game and was working on movement, jumps, sprite broadcasting and costume changes. Just to clear things up, we worked on creating and editing sprites in the first lesson.  We sat together for about 30 min, during which time he eagerly grasped a new set of skills that would place him 2 lessons ahead of the rest of his class. Scratch is a natural when it comes to extension work.

Other wows have occurred in both grades in different ways, but I would have to say that the eagerness with which the kids anticipate working on their projects, combined with the variance in style, and direction that Scratch provides for, are perhaps two of the most notable.

Plans are now in the works for a Scratch extra-curricular class, which will focus on exploration and collaboration on projects. The power here is that students will be  teachers as well as learners.     .