Building a smarter computing culture in Fargo, ND
Summer 2010, I contacted Principal Triggs to see if he was interested in trying some educational software called Sugar. Sugar is free and open source, it is used on the XO computer (One Laptop Per Child), but also stand alone, it is designed for children K-6, and it is designed from a constructivist, educational point of view.
We settled on an after-school, Tech Team approach: try out the software and its activities with 6-8 students, check functionality of software and hardware (Sugar on a Stick), check educational value of some of the activities: E-toys (digital story telling), InfoSlicer (note taking), Turtle Blocks (geometry and computer programming), Write, and Portfolio. We also tried a few games–very educational! : )
We wrote a proposal and received a grant to “create a smart computing culture in Fargo.” Step 1: expand the use of Sugar at Madison. We are here today to talk about possibilities for doing that, but we also want to make it clear that we are not here to force a piece of software on any of you. We want to hear what your needs are, and then we will explore what is available in Sugar that might help you. If the right activity doesn’t exist, we might be able to make a customized piece of software for you. We are happy to work with multiple grades, a single grade, individual teachers in multiple grades, students after school who volunteer, Mr. Gast. We offer up Sugar not as a criticism of anything you are doing, but simply as a possibility, a possible motivator, enhancer, extender, or supplement to your current practices and curriculum.
“Record“: a simple audio or video recorder built in for story telling or student reflection. Can also be a camera. (K-5).
“Clock“: re-enforce lessons on telling time. (Grade 1.)
“Memorize“: flash cards that students can create: math, vocabulary, or anything else. Can include images. (K-5)
“Draw“: a computer drawing and painting program. (Grades 2-5).
Build an activity called “North Dakota” (Grade 4) like the Madagascar activity.
Typing Turtle is a really sophisticated keyboarding tutor (4th Grade).
“Turtle Blocks“: geometry and art. (Grade 4 or 5).
“Etoys“: digital story telling; science projects, math concepts. (Grade 5.)
“Physics“: explore mass, plane, movement via the computer. (Grade 5.)
Brainstorm: what aspects of your curriculum might most benefit from engagement and motivation strategies?
What program(s) would you like to explore in more depth?
1. Turtle Blocks with students and teachers working together: solve the shape challenge!
2. Write about it: reflect on engagement, learning, motivation to continue.
3. Present your work in “Portfolio.”