[IAEP] Lesson plans needed

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Mon Jul 7 21:10:56 CEST 2008

On Sun, Jul 6, 2008 at 6:55 PM, Tony Forster <forster at ozonline.com.au> wrote:
> Bryan wrote:
>> the consistent feedback they came back w/ was
>> 1) The teachers want lesson plans integrated w/ the activities
>> 2) The parents don't see the learning activities as anything more than
>> games.
> Edward wrote:
>> Writing lesson plans needs to be a whole program in itself, integrated with
>> rethinking textbooks to make use of the available software and to implement
>> Constructionism, or possibly just creating textbooks within available
>> software. This is Alan Kay's domain, among others. I haven't heard of
>> anybody seriously taking up this vital part of the program, and I haven't
>> even gotten answers to my queries about previous work in
>> this vein..Has anybody taught any of the programming language tutorials to
>> the children?
> Underlying these comments is the question of how does constructivism/ionism
> work in classrooms. The call for lesson plans and tutorials by teachers can
> often indicate a difference in teaching style with a preference for a more
> didactic or instructionist style.

Yes. I'm calling for Constructionist lesson plans. That means laying
out what teachers should ideally understand in advance, what
explorations they direct the children to do, and what the children are
meant to learn, with some help for the teachers on what can go wrong
with the children's explorations, and how to help them through the
problems without doing the work for them. All in the appropriate level
of detail considering what training the teacher may or may not have
had, and what issues the children may have due to their previous
educational experiences.

> The activities in Sugar, of themselves, have no particular merit, their
> power is in their potential for deep thinking and problem solving.

I can't tell what you are denying here. To me, the essence of the
activities is what you can do with them, including deep thinking and
problem solving.

> So, much
> of their power is lost if they are "taught" in the sense of "follow me,
> today we are going to learn Etoys". The call for lesson plans and tutorials
> often indicates this teaching approach.

True, but not today and not here.

> The power of the Sugar activities is in the opportunities they give for
> self-directed problem-based learning. Achieving this is much more about how
> teachers "set up" their classes and not about following a preset plan.
> Self-directed problem-based learning does not always follow a preset plan,
> the teacher, the "guide on the side" gives things a nudge from time to time,
> more recognising when learning is working well than following a preset plan.

Nevertheless, there is preset guidance in the plan, including what the
exploration is and what it is meant to discover, and why.

> Students, teachers, administrators and parents all have expectations of what
> school is about and these are usually more didactic than the learning
> offered by Sugar activities.

True, but fortunately not necessarily an obstacle.

> Experienced teachers (not me) put a lot of effort into "setting up" classes
> at the beginning of the year creating an environment where collaboration,
> discovery and risk taking are the norm. It is probably better to look at how
> successful constructivist teachers set up expectations and use activities
> rather than to lock down to lesson plans.

Now the community is going to "set up" the XO and the training for the
teachers, to create an environment in which teachers can explore
collaboration, discovery, risk taking, allowing students to ask
questions, and so on.

> See Bill Kerr's blog.

Link, please, here and in the Wiki.

> He talks of creating an environment where students
> know they can demand the whiteboard markers from him at any time and work
> things out at the front of the class and how this took weeks.

Good. See the Ethiopia Report on the Academic Papers Wiki page.

> He quotes Konrad Glogowski who gets students to select music tracks to go
> with their literature study, Bill says "Can this be duplicated at another
> School site, through an education plan or an assessment rubric? No"

Link, please.

> Another teacher, Roland Gesthuizen, gives students broken programs, games,
> and gets them to debug them. He uses this as "scaffolding", a bridge to more
> self-directed creation where students program their own games.


> Another, Margaret Meijers, selects topical issues from the newspapers, for
> example traffic accidents, and gets kids to hypothesise the underlying
> mechanisms and then program a simulation.


> Alan Kay has linked to resources for teacher guided discovery learning which


> are maybe a bit more choreographed than my personal style but still
> demonstrate the importance of the teacher being the "guide on the side"
> rather than the "sage on the stage". He has a sequence of activities where
> students can discover acceleration for themselves. The beauty of this
> sequence is that it is not about following a narrow path but guided
> discovery which will work well with a teacher who understands this learning
> method and who will provide guidance sparingly.
> So in summary I don't think lesson plans and textbooks are needed so much as
> case studies of teachers who understand the art of teaching well.

Those are the lesson plans I am calling for, and we haven't even begun
the discussion about what textbooks can become.

Let us not be paralyzed by terminology. Let us, like Humpty Dumpty
before us, make our words mean exactly what we intend them to mean,
neither more nor less. The question is, who is to be master. That's

> PS I have never had any resistance from the parents of the young kids
> (grades 5&6) that I teach to program computer games, they have always given
> 100% support once they see firsthand the engagement and learning. I have had
> resistance from teachers who don't see past the activity itself, which has
> no great merits, to the underlying learning of problem solving,
> organisational skills, mathematics and kinematics.

The dynamics differ in detail in each culture, but the essential
problem is the same. There is a tradition to be overcome, one which
has outlived its usefulness. How do we get those involved to construct
the new reality in their own minds, through their own experience? The
problem for teachers, students, parents, and administrators is exactly
the same in essence. We cannot spread Constructionism through
Instructionist methods, by publication, by lecture, by precept, or by
fiat. We can only do it by giving people the experience of success in
very small matters, and giving them space to enlarge their successes.

> Tony
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Edward Cherlin
End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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