I've been slightly struggling with time management issues this autumn, having so many things to do and so little time. Today was an end of one experiment I wanted to do, and it turned out great even if different than what I had in mind when I got started.
- Hello Ruby book handout. Every kid in both 1st grade classes got a free copy to take home, as well as the teacher. That was 48 copies. Linda Liukas and her publisher were very nice and enabled a cheaper unit price for the batch, and my non-profit work was able to finance the books as gifts. The kids were very curious about the books and with guidance from me and the teachers, named their own copies so that they would not get lost or mixed up.
- Create a story with picture, and record it. I had each kid choose a letter of alphabet and draw a picture of a story they came up with. I asked them to come to the computer for recording, and showed them around on how to tell their story as a recording. I collected the hand-drawn pictures.
- Creating credits image to end the video. The teacher set up a touching game to add a little randomness to the order of kids coming over to the computer to add their own name into signatures. When touched, it was their turn - and this created a positive sense of waiting for one's turn. With the projector, there was a lot of fun with this simple act: writing on the computer, getting your own name into the work and others reading what is on the screen as it emerged. Every kid wrote their own name with small (non-capital) letters, and watching that happen for a few kids, I realized there was a great intro into the programming we'd do later. I showed how with a computer I can select all 28 names and turn them into words that start with capital letters just with one function.
- Watching the video together. We then watched our end result. Everyone in their turn was looking like they were feeling a mixture of embarrassment and happiness, and the whole group was very focused on seeing their own stories. We talked briefly about the fact that the video is theirs and that I will not put it in the internet nor should they - that things like that should be agreed on in advance and everyone should agree. The class teacher pointed out clarify of speech and how much easier it was to understand what great messages you have to say if you articulate, and I was just thinking I missed a bit of editing when I did not raise the quiet voices to a higher volume.
- Talking and trying out programming. With the video created, we started talking about programming. We talked about someone having programmed the tool we could use to create videos, and programming as something that would allow us to create things we could imagine. We did two exercises from Hello Ruby book.
We talked about small programs that consist of commands learning Ruby's dance moves. Then we talked about us being the computers running the dancing program and tried it with three repetitions. We ended the exercise talking about doing the moves 1000 times and how computers don't get tired of repeating things you program them to do. And we talked about the idea that we could tell also to stop when we say to stop.
The second exercise was the debugging exercise that comes closer to my usual work. We looked at two three examples where the little instructions that computers could understand but that missed something. Like the idea that you would put your table cloth on top of your birthday cake, or that you would eat when you're full and say thank you when you are hungry.