[IAEP] Lesson plans needed (was Re: Release 8.2.0 -- pls add critical features (Greg Smith))

Alan Kay alan.nemo at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 5 19:40:19 CEST 2008

Actually, it's not really "my domain", and we wish we were better at this very difficult stuff.

The process we have done is:

1. someone (often me, or Yoshiki, or ...) thinks of a way to use the simple facilities of EToys as part of having children learn a powerful idea in math or science and wind up constructing a from scratch simulation (i.e. "dynamic math" formulation) of the result.

2. Kim Rose and I think about how this might go in a classroom with a real teacher.
3. Kim, the teacher (and sometimes I) will "have tea" and kick it around.
4. The teacher will try doing it including the constructions.
5. We will test this process for three years in the classroom in order to get a decent assessment of whether it is really a good way to do things. (Unfortunately, there are lots of artifacts of every kind from single trials, including the real learning that the teacher needs to do ...)
6. We have written up sequences of these for 5th graders.
7. One particularly good example is the process of going from learning about motion and the math of motion using computer programs and moving graphics, to an investigation in the real world of falling bodies, to measuring videos of falling bodies, correlating this with the "math", coming up with "dynamic math" to move a simulated falling body the way gravity does, comparing frame by frame the simulation and the video to see matches and mismatches. See "Squeak Etoys, Children and Learning" by yrs truly http://www.vpri.org/pdf/etoys_n_learning.pdf for an example.
8. Talking about why a successful result might not be the end of the investigations
7. Also see the book: "Powerful Ideas in the Classroom" by (teacher) B.J. Conn, and (researcher) Kim Rose for many more examples 

Our experience has been that this is by far the most difficult part of introducing different ideas into education (with or without a computer). 
(Good news) 5th graders will often wind up understanding the content quite a bit better than the teachers who are helping them
(Not so good news) By in large, what the children wind up learning is quite constrained by what the teacher tries to do

This is why the first picture I made for the OLPC folks in 2005 looked like this:

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