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Computers General Instructors Programming Thoughts about Class

Connections are key

During Thursday’s class two students gave a presentation about the wordpress app they found on their phones. It was GREAT! I asked all the other students about some of their experiences with the phone so far and if they had any questions. I then made it clear that anyone can pick anything to present to the class and that we would do that once a week. Ms. Leshell and I thought this would be a great idea to help the students build great presentation skills.

I  also gave a very brief overview of Scratch during Thursday’s class.  Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. It also helps kids to learn programming concepts and gets them to think creatively. You can read up more on scratch at http://scratch.mit.edu/.

After the brief overview of Scratch I asked the students to play around with it to see what they could come up with. It wasn’t long before the students got a little bored with it. So I took this time to ask each of them what they liked and disliked about the application. During this discussion there were things that they actually liked such as the ease of use and the ability to modify the sprites. However, there were things that they didn’t like about it. The two things that came up the most were the graphics. The students basically said the graphics sucked! They also felt that the concept of Scratch was to elementary. They didn’t like the idea that it seemed like they were making cartoons.

After hearing all the responses, it was time for me to respond. I started with the graphics. I told them if they don’t like the graphics, why not create your own. Since we are using Linux as the operating system in class, I asked them if they had ever heard of GIMP. No one raised their hand. It was then I realized that this was an opportunity for me to get some more students to present. So I asked for two volunteers to put together a presentation about GIMP. I also  addressed the whole “it’s to elementary” response by telling them its not about making cartons. It ‘s purpose is to give you a visual tool to learn basic programming concepts. Some of the students then addressed that they want to jump right into a real programming language and learn from there. I told them that Ms. Leshell and I will look into that.

So after hearing that some of them wanted to jump right into programming. I asked them if  wanted to take my full time job. I then realized that they had no idea what I did on my fulltime job. I took time out to explain to them what I did on a day to day basis. They were amazed. I then continued to explain to them more about computer science in general and how it can be done in all fields. There were a ton of questions, but I made sure I answered them all. I even had a few students stay after class to talk about computer science and possibly pursing it as a major in college. That went on for about an hour or so after class

Overall, I think today’s class was a success for two reason. I felt like I really connected with the students today and that they left with a much better understanding about the possibilities of being a computer scientist. I think the program is off to a great start. The one thing I think we need to do is to challenge the students more.

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