Simply Seeking Syllabus for 5th-8th Grade Squeaking

Mark A. Schwenk mas at
Thu Apr 19 23:56:56 PDT 2001

At 4/19/2001 12:46 PM, John.Maloney at wrote:
>B.J. Conn, a teacher at the Open Charter School in Los Angeles (a public
>magnet school) has been using Squeak in her classroom for the past two
>years. She has enough computers to have one kid per computer, and it
>works very well.
>On May 1st, I'm going to try teaching a 40 minute introduction to Squeak to
>several classes of fifth graders. We don't have enough comptuers to go around,
>so I'm planning to have kids work in pairs and take turns. I can let you know
>how that works out. (It will be my first time teaching Squeak, and I'm a
>programmer, not a teacher, so I think I will make many mistakes.)

I'd like to hear how it goes. I'm curious to know what you plan to cover in 
your session.

I would like to be able to come up with something that opens kids minds to 
some of the possibilities of Squeak and helps them accomplish something 
with it.

>My suggestion is to start with 6 kids and see how it goes. If you are the
>only person teaching, this also gives a better student/teacher ratio.

In a follow up post after yours, BJ suggests pairing up, which was my 
inclination. I really enjoy pair programming but wasn't sure about the 
benefits or drawbacks in an educational setting. Although the following 
remark by Brad Appleton that I read today on the chicago-agile-dev list 
suggests that programming in general can be looked at as a learning experience:

It has to do with
rejection of the whole "software as manufacturing" model and
acknowledging that it is more about exploration/experimentation
(software is executable "knowledge" so the software development
process itself is more about learning and knowledge acquisition
than it is about codifying stagnant, passive (and out-of-date)
instructions that some architect threw over a wall as a bunch
of lines and circles :-)

>I think B.J. may be able to help you with the course outline.

That would be great!

>  How many
>class meetings will you have, and how long per session?

I'm not sure at this point--I'd like it to be in-depth enough so that the 
kids have the inspiration, confidence, and knowledge to do some more 
exploration on their own after the course is over. But then I'm an 
optimist--aren't all programmers?

>         -- John
>P.S. B.J. I cc-ed you in case you are not yet on the Squeakland mailing list.
>At 8:26 AM -0500 4/19/01, Mark A. Schwenk wrote:
> >I talked to the director of the public library in Glen Ellyn, IL about
> >using their computer lab to host some Squeaking sessions. After I explained
> >a bit about Squeak, the director suggested that I develop an outline for a
> >Squeak course to be offered this summer at the library for 5th-8th graders.
> >
> >Can anyone suggest suitable lessons and activities in Squeak for such a 
> course?
> >
> >It appears there are 6 PCs in the lab. Do others think I should I aim for 6
> >or 12 students per session? I was wondering if anyone has experience with
> >solo vs. pair programming at this level.
> >
> >I appreciate your insights!

-Mark Schwenk
  WellThot Inc.

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