Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Week 2: TurtleArt + Maze

We were excited to see how the kids responded after a week with their XOs -- had the novelty worn off? Did they continue to explore at home? Last week, we asked them to come back with the most interesting thing they found. Unfortunately, we didn't find the range of distance or chat over the mesh in the sleepy suburbs, but the kids brought back some cute videos and 'Speak' provided general amusement.

This week, we introduced them to TurtleArt. I can't speak for my collaborators Elsa and Andy, but I was pretty skeptical about our ability to keep them engaged and interested in the program. I'm glad to have been proven wrong!

It took us easily the first half of class (if not more!) to get the kids to settle down and get to the task we'd set up for them this week, but that's something we're working on. We think we'll have it a little more under wraps next week by setting up something more structured not involving XOs at the beginning.

The challenge this week was to get a turtle to navigate the maze, as demonstrated in the screenshot below:

[screenshot coming soon!]

It was pretty cute -- it took them a little bit of nudging to get them to catch on to the fact that each grid represented more than one unit, but even the second grader understood the task! (I suspect more guess and check may have been involved, but still.)

We mollified his "oh, this is hard" response by telling him this was the sort of thing that much older kids were doing! I'm not sure how motivating he found it, but on the whole, I was really pleased to see that the collaborative theme established continued on :)

Next week, we're planning to set them up with some penpals in Vietnam -- Elsa knows more about this, and introduce arcs in TurtleArt by encouraging them to write their own names.


  1. These reports are fantastic - it's great to hear about what you folks are doing.

    I was really pleased to see that the collaborative theme established continued on

    Were the kids helping each other with the mazes?

  2. Thank you for reporting the classroom management challenge.

    Have you seen the recent NYT articles on that issue?

    Looks like classroom management is a learned skill. It would be cool to get this guys book, try some things, and come up with a short list of techniques that volunteers working with kids and computers can learn fairly quickly to help them be more effective.