Sugar Labs @ NDSU

Building a smarter computing culture in Fargo, ND

Turtle Block Portfolios: Attempt #1

Chris and I spent about 45 minutes with six (then seven) Madison students yesterday, continuing our exploration of Turtle Blocks. We asked them to set up a portfolio, but we brought no support documents and the site with the instruction video was blocked by the school’s filter.  So we more or less asked them to figure it out for themselves.

That worked reasonably well, although Chris and I are still trying to figure out what a Turtle portfolio will really look like.  The students figured out how to put text in the “Title” bar, and they  more or less figured out how to write a bullet list, but we really wanted them to pull something from their Journals in to the portfolio.  Some didn’t have Turtle ARt from last week, and those that did did not seem to know where to find it, so we sent them  to “Record” to take a picture, which they all figured out how to bring in to the portfolio. We really wanted to see the dynamic of bringing an item in from the journal to the portfolio; when the kids figured out that a right click was needed, the process became easy enough.  But the whole process of saving or “Keeping” items still seems less reliable and less user-friendly than we would like to see, and the coding need to construct a full portfolio is still ambiguous.  The video tutorial shows a user going and getting a picture of Papert and a picture of Minsky, but we need to see a really robust portfolio at work.

Some notes from my point of view (Chris worked with a different set of kids, so his should be different):

  • Despite the biggest group in a long time (maybe ever), and despite this activity being less fun than making art (although taking photos was fun for the kids), the group worked well and on task.
  • One of the two who had not been there in a long time asked over and over, “what do I do now?” Those who have been coming regularly were much more independent as learners.  When students asked this question, I almost always re-directed to other students because, quite frankly, I didn’t always know what to do.
  • Getting the kids to look in to the code of the portfolio was hard. They really want to work on a trial-and-error basis, rather than take a deductive, logical approach. I was finishing Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows last night, and he refers to some interesting studies of easy and hard interfaces, and found that users of easy interfaces rely on trial and error.  Those habits seem to carry over in to Sugar, but maybe long enough exposure to Sugar will encourage deductive thinking.

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This entry was posted on March 16, 2011 by in fieldnote, pedagogy, Sugar, Turtle and tagged .


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