Teaching Kids Computing

 

I love teaching and being creative in order to teach my students to understand difficult concepts or to help them begin to think about things a bit differently. So, kid and computerI’d come up with comical ways to remember Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs by advising them to think of the needs as “ham sandwich, home or, honey, etc.” and they’d smile, laugh and get it.

They got it and I felt like a proud parent every time. When I make presentations, I asked people to, “Please, if you would, wiggle your ears for me right now.” They stare at me in disbelief. I must be kidding, I know they’re thinking. They may also be wondering what this has to do with my presentation. Again, it’s to make a point.

Teaching should be fun, provocative and engage students in the task without them really being aware they are actually learning. I recently learned that I shared this teaching method with the late Dr. Randy Pausch, so this page is dedicated to him and his team that will carry on Dr. Pausch’s “ALICE” Project teaching kids computer programming.

When I begin work on a new project, I may need a boost or some added motivation In other words, something that gets me moving. When I need that motivation, I turnrandy pausched to [Randy Pausch’s lecture on motivation] (http://bit.ly/pieTA0). It was one of the last lectures he would deliver before his untimely death in 2008. I’ve included his address to a Carnegie Mellon University graduating class, the last graduating class he would ever address and I hope his spirit motivates you.

He reminded me, again, about the importance of teaching as he taught me that roadblocks are there for reasons, mentors are there for guidance and support and voices of encouragement are always needed, even by the best of any of us. Be that mentor, and guiding voice, that cheerleader and provide your kids whether your children or your students, with the chance to succeed. Remind all of them about Dr. Randy Pausch and “may the force be with you” in every way your journey takes you through life.

If you would like to see his complete “Last Lecture,” just follow this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo&feature=channel

I’m including links to all of the ALICE (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity) Project that I can find in the hope that I can contribute to teaching kids how to program–painlessly. How does the project do it? It’s so simple that kids don’t even think much about it.

alice projectALICE was started when one of Pausch’s students wrote a program where kids just write stories and they’re off and running with their programming skills. How easy is that? We can all use the skills, so if you are game, put your ego in your pocket, pretend you’re a kid again and allow yourself to try, to make mistakes and to learn every step of the way. And, while you’re at it, give a quiet thanks to Randy Pausch and get your local schools involved in using this methodology. You’ll be doing the kids and the rest of us a great service.

The Alice Project

Storytelling Alice

Alice Newsletter

Download Alice

Teaching Resources

Textbooks

How to play ALICE worlds in your web browser

Alice 3.0 (YouTube)

How about a programming language that is really catching fire and which may ruby on railsjust be the language of the future? Wouldn’t it be great if you could get a free tutorial book on it? Well, you can. Ruby is the name of the program and Ruby-on-Rails is the version used to build websites.  The Book of Ruby for the Adventurous is one item you might want to explore or a collection of Ruby books.

Links to information on learning coding (in progress)

 

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