aspose file tools*
The moose likes Teachers' Lounge and the fly likes Big Moose Saloon
  Search | Java FAQ | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies
Register / Login
JavaRanch » Java Forums » Books » Teachers' Lounge
Bookmark ""Squeakers" film" Watch ""Squeakers" film" New topic
Author

"Squeakers" film

Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Today I saw a very interesting documentary film on using computers to foster learning. The title "Squeakers" is coming from the programming environment used - Squeak, a Smalltalk dialect; but that is a secondary subject of the film.
The premise of the film is that computers should be used to give kids an environment to try and experience things. For example, there were 10 year old kids doing an experiment on gravity and then simulating the experiment at the computer.
You can see three excerpt clips at http://www.squeakland.org/sqmedia/sqmediahome.html (and also order a copy on DVD).


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Kathy Sierra
Cowgirl and Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 10, 2002
Posts: 1572
thank you for this!!
Anything that Alan Kay has ever approved of is a Good Thing
Has anyone read "Minds at Play"? Or about the studies Apple has done with teaching kids a specific subject (say, fractions) by having them in turn develop software and lessons that can be used to teach *other* (younger) kids the same subject? The studies are fascinating!
The results are something like this;
* Kids who have a formal semester in fractions get score X on their fractions exams
* Kids who have no formal lessons in fractions get score < X (much less) on fractions exams
* Kids who have NO formal lessons in fractions, BUT, who are asked instead to use authoring software to create fractions lessons for younger students, score > X
In other words, by being asked to both learn the authoring software AND develop lessons on a topic they don't know and don't have any formal training on, they actually get *better* scores than the students who spend the same amount of time in formal teacher-led fractions classroom lessons.
They put these kids in more of a lab environment, with teachers acting as 'mentors', giving them ad-hoc lessons and pointing to resources as needed.
Of course, as instructors, we probably ALL know what it feels like to have to come up to speed and teach something that we didn't know. How many times have you felt like you were only one chapter ahead of your students? (and of course, trying not to let them know that.)
I remember one time that Simon Roberts said he was in front of the classroom working on the whiteboard when all of a sudden he "got" it -- got the thing he had been teaching but hadn't really understood. He said it took all his will power not to yell out in delight, "OH! Now I see how it works!!"
Much worse, of course, is when you're talking about something, actually thinking you KNOW the subject, when a student asks you a question and -- right there in front of everyone -- you realize they led you into a hole and you really have no idea how it works. But until they asked that question that proved what you were saying doesn't make sense... you had no idea
Sheesh! One thing that is scaring me about books is that, if you say something stupid in a class, its over -- nothing committed that you have to live with, as long as you never run into those people again. But in a book, oh my, suddenly there it is in black and white -- and plastered on the errata page, no less, so that even all the people who wouldn't have discovered it for themselves get to see it
Fortunately, publishers these days have very short print runs, so you get to sneak errata fixes in pretty quickly and don't have to live with your mistakes. But having now done a book, I find the less-permanent nature of a classroom much more comfortable. In fact, if you say something wrong, and its not the last day of class, you even have a chance to go back during the next class and correct yourself. And at least you usually have no more than 30 people at a time listen to you being stupid. As opposed to thousands
Anyway, thanks Ilja -- I think Squeak is cool.
Of course, don't know if anybody remembers ScriptX -- the joint Apple/IBM language that was like Java (OO, had a VM, etc.) except WAY WAY more geared toward multimedia. It was just ahead of its time (or rather, ahead of the compute power most people had, so that you could do really cool things, but then they ran at the most glacial pace). But I loved ScriptX -- even the documentation was beautiful, if you can believe that. It didn't survive, though.
But Squeak is cool, and we'll see where it goes. O'Reilly had an interview with Alan Kay where he talks about it.
cheers,
Kathy
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
Reminds me a lot of Logo about 20 years ago.
That had the same feel of giving the students the tools to solve problems and find the beauty in the subject. Somehow with the increase in the popularity of the IBM-compatible personal computer, Logo seemed to just fade away to be replaced by teaching the use of Microsoft applications in class instead of teaching thinking and understanding.
Anyone else remember Logo in schools?
I'm sure I have an old copy of Papert's "mindstorms" book around here somewhere...


Read about me at frankcarver.me ~ Raspberry Alpha Omega ~ Frank's Punchbarrel Blog
Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Frank Carver:
Reminds me a lot of Logo about 20 years ago.

In fact in the film Alan mentions Logo and its inventor (don't remember the name ) to be one of the main inspirations for Squeak!
Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Kathy Sierra:
Anything that Alan Kay has ever approved of is a Good Thing



Much worse, of course, is when you're talking about something, actually thinking you KNOW the subject, when a student asks you a question and -- right there in front of everyone -- you realize they led you into a hole and you really have no idea how it works. But until they asked that question that proved what you were saying doesn't make sense... you had no idea

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Personally I always had the most respect for those teachers being self-confident enough to answer a qestion with "That's a good question - I seriously don't know the answer yet. I will look it up / think about it and try to tell you more next time."
But Squeak is cool, and we'll see where it goes. O'Reilly had an interview with Alan Kay where he talks about it.

Yep, and not only for teaching. I once have seen a small demonstration of its seaside web framework - it makes every java solution I know of look like stone age... :roll:
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
Logo and its inventor (don't remember the name)
That's Seymour Papert - the guy with the beard in the bottom clip on the page you referenced.
Barry Gaunt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 03, 2002
Posts: 7729
You can obtain UCB Logo via Brian Harvey's Home Page.


Ask a Meaningful Question and HowToAskQuestionsOnJavaRanch
Getting someone to think and try something out is much more useful than just telling them the answer.
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
You can also download a "massively parallel" version of Logo, "StarLogo" from http://education.mit.edu/starlogo/
Kenneth A. Kousen
gunslinger & author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 18, 2002
Posts: 89
    
    5
Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Personally I always had the most respect for those teachers being self-confident enough to answer a qestion with "That's a good question - I seriously don't know the answer yet. I will look it up / think about it and try to tell you more next time."

I've heard students say this, but I've seen the opposite much more often. Students expect you to know pretty much everything. You can get away with saying "I don't know" once or maybe even twice, but after that, many of them decide that you don't know the subject and then you've lost them. Worse, when a student decides that, you can lose the rest of the class, too, since the original student become a kind of poison, spreading doubt about everything you say after that.
Of course, you can't make up an answer you don't know, but you still have to try to relate it to something you do know, so you have something to talk about.
One of the harsher lessons I've had to learn over and over again is that when you're asked a question, you don't necessarily have to answer it immediately. What you need to be able to do is to think out loud about it in front of an audience. You can even go all silent on them for a few moments, and when they start to ask again just say that you're thinking about it. That's actually validating for the student, because they feel good about asking something both interesting and non-trivial.
Sometimes I'll also respond with, "huh, I think it's like this, but let's find out for sure." Then I'll go to an editor and create a test case on the fly. That actually works more often then I would have thought.
Sorry about the long-winded response to a simple question, but you hit a nerve.
Ken


Kenneth A. Kousen, Ph.D. (assorted certs), President, Kousen IT, Inc.
Author of Making Java Groovy - http://www.kousenit.com
Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Kenneth Kousen:
You can get away with saying "I don't know" once or maybe even twice, but after that, many of them decide that you don't know the subject and then you've lost them.

Yeah, that would happen to me, too, I guess. It's quite important that a) it doesn't happen too often and b) the teacher *is* researching the issue and can explain it later on.
Sorry about the long-winded response to a simple question, but you hit a nerve.

Nothing to be sorry about - it was quite enlightening!
 
Don't get me started about those stupid light bulbs.
 
subject: "Squeakers" film