Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning - Part II

One of our first tasks is to review this post on the Software Carpentry blog, which compares Greg's attempt to teach online with these research-based best practices.

The following are the recommendations my responses to recommedations 3 & 4 of the research study, along with my thoughts and reactions to these recommendations and how to apply them to teaching young kids 8-16 programming:

3) Combine graphics with verbal descriptions. Combine graphical presentations (e.g., graphs, figures) that illustrate key processes and procedures with verbal descriptions.   

Here I think I do fairly well (although more with math than programming), in providing visual metaphors/analogies for concepts and on occasion creating animations that kids can play with. Where I need to improve is thinking about how to move them from the visual metaphors to working directly with the abstract.

4) Connect and integrate abstract and concrete representations of concepts. 

Connect and integrate abstract representations of a concept with concrete representations of the same concept.
So I can only think of one case where I succeeded at this, that is where I had the kids program themselves (they were the turtles who had to walk a square vs drawing one).  This worked well in that it helped teach the kids the need for precise formal language. 

Now one area I would like to try and I think fits this are the algorithmic sorting dances similar to this one: 

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