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#11645261 Oct 17, 2015 at 08:25 AM · Edited 6 years ago
8 Posts
I saw a post in another thread, and decided it might be helpful for me to share how I teach this content (so far) to mostly 6th graders and a handful of 7th graders (ages 10 - 12).

I agree 100% with the post in another thread that HelloPurr and PaintPot apps are going to be effective learning experiences for this age group. I also thought that the Mole Mash and possibly the Magic 8 Ball apps would be good for the kids who want to take the apps to the next level. Many of my students get easily frustrated when they can't get things working properly. Also, many are in my elective class with no desire to learn the content so they do not have the same level of motivation as those who are very interested in making games & apps. I haven't used App Inventor with them yet, it is on my schedule for a few weeks from now. The App Inventor unit will replace a "drag & drop" app design program called Yapp, which has very limited features and doesn't teach programming.

In case anyone is curious how teaching programming works with 6th graders....everything I do now is in 3D GameLab, so my students can self-select the quests that they are interested in completing.

Right now some students are working on learning how to program in Scratch. I think the Scratch lessons are an excellent gateway for App Inventor. Those who want to continue on in Computer Science can work on App Inventor quests, whereas many other kids will stick to programming games in Scratch or move on to other programming options.

I am using the CS-First curriculum for Game Design in Scratch and so far the 6th graders are taking to it quite well. For those who find Scratch to be too complex as they get into more features in the games, I also use Code.org's courses starting the student at a level that is appropriate for them. For example, I had a student with Down's syndrome who was doing just fine in the Level 1 (non-readers) course in Code.org.

Finally, we do a programming unit with a free iOS app called Floors by PixelPress. They "draw" a level on paper for a scrolling game in this app. The app translates their drawing into pathways, ladders and obstacles. Great success with this app for kids of every ability level (and one child from Iraq who spoke not a word of English when he arrived in my classroom toward the end of the semester). We talk about playtesting & QA here. Kids will work really hard to break each other's games in order to find the glitches and they are delighted when they do so!

Everyone is working independently or in pairs. Kids who get through quickly are asked to be "gurus" - a term I borrowed from CS-First. I reward my student gurus with XP for helping out other kids to get through the various challenges that programming inevitably involves. I do have a steady stream of kids who need assistance with understanding the logic or how to use certain blocks (loops & conditionals, for example).

So far, so good -the principal cannot believe what goes on in my classroom with kids of all ability levels.

I hope that is useful to those of you who are teaching programming to the younger grades. I'll continue to update this thread once the App Inventor lessons are in full swing in my classes.

~Krista
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