23 oktober 2014

We have learned the WHILE loop!

A week ago one colleague became father and, as the rules are in the Nordic countries, left his workplace for three weeks. Of course I'm happy for him, but at the same time a bit pissed because he didn't left any materials to us who suppose to be his replacements. One of the courses, basics of object-oriented programming (python) we're three teachers to share, the other two usually works with C++ and Java so they are more familiar with our problem.

As a remedial teacher I have some knowledge of everything, but to refresh object-oriented programming over a weekend, heeey c'mon... :P

So I've been stressing a lot of this course the whole weekend before I decided to face the problem my own way and go against the flow: what you can't fix with Minecraft ain't worth fixing... So MinecraftEDU, ComputerCraftEDU and the truly awesome map the Land of Turtles!

And yes, I know
  • the Land of Turtles was designed for 9-12 yo kids
  • Lua isn't object-oriented programming (but kind of reminds of one)

My students are between 18-22, double the age of what the map are designed to. My students should also be the third years students of Business Information Technicans (datanom), but as I understood after the beginning of the week they are not any programmers. 

In fact, none of the teachers in my school has succeeded in learn this group any programming at all, and one of the reasons why is because they have used conventional methods, code code code and nothing else but code.

And here we face on big problem, teachers that don't understand that Generation G (Global) learn in an opposite way than we're used to. Too many learn through games...

The target group:
  • 18-22 yo
  • Don't know how to code
  • Can not analyze code
  • Conventional methods don't work
  • Can't concentrate
  • Makes noise and talks all the time

Selected methods:
  • MinecraftEDU
  • ComputerCraftEDU

My colleagues hope I fail, the students don't care (they have decided to not listen before I even start) and I'm getting nervous... If my way works, they might have to do the same, so guess what's easiest :P

"The Land of turtles" is in truth an absolutely stunning map, split into small pieces, chapters, lessons. It begins with the turtle museum, two floors of turtles with example code. I had written down all codes (text) and gave them their own code to search, describe and analyze. I thought maybe 15-20 min would be enough.

It took 45 min, mostly because students that age has forgotten to follow instructions, don't read, don't listen and getting confused when the solution does not fall down in their outstretched arms...

As many teacher had told me they can't analyze code, understand what the code does, they did fairly good I must say

Explanation 1: 
"What is happening here: Turtle goes first forward, then up, turn about 180 degrees (right). Then I go through a blank area in the wall, then down and swings about 180 degrees again and goes back to the same place from where it started."

Explanation 2:
"The robot is called up and trough 
turtel.forward = breaking up a block 
turtle.up = turtle goes up a block 
turtle.turnRight = turtle turns to the 180 to the right 
turtle.down = turtle walking down a block 
turtle.turnLerft = turtle pivots at 180 on the left"

When everyone was ready I open the gates to the intro to turtles section where they could start practice. Suddenly they were in the next area a bit too fast (I wasn't ready): Faultline Island.

A chapter that didn't work at all, my students need someone who tells them what to do otherwise they loose their interest. So I teleported them one by one to the Sky Turtle Island and my students started to be creative. They also stopped racing and came up with own goals: nicest code, best code, to win the game/outwit the creator and more.

A block every second spot. Why? He told me he wanted to save blocks for later use...

Same challenge, two different solutions. One goes over and the other through... And the challenge to outsmart the creator: you can't leave the Sky Turtle Island because you're not allowed to build or to jump from the plattform. But you can use your turtle to make a bridge over the fence...

Some stuff wasn't working, as the sandwall which should close behind you when you enter the second floor's new rooms. When we removed the redstone (yellow star) the sand went down and closed the door. Two students entered the room together to collaborate through the challenges. 

After 2,5 hours non-stop working with code, turtles, problemsolving I was totally deflated and wanted to be alone. I had to kick them out and promise we'll continue next week. Before they left we talked about what they had learned. 

  • Everyone had learned something.
  • All had at least (finally) learned the WHILE-loop.
  • Those with dysphasia could keep pace with the other.
  • All told me they have, for the first time, actually been doing what the teacher asked for the whole time (!).

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