[IAEP] [Sugar-devel] How to Make Activity Designers Happy , Parts I and II

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Fri Jan 2 15:18:59 EST 2009

On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 3:10 PM, Bryan Berry <bryan at olenepal.org> wrote:
> On Fri, 2009-01-02 at 14:54 -0500, Wade Brainerd wrote:
> I don't understand the construing of constructionism with "exclusively
>>         high-level math and science" and I don't quite what you mean
>>         by
>>         "foundational skills". I don't think anyone would argue that
>>         we don't
>>         want numeracy and literacy to be "low shelf" tools in every
>>         child's
>>         repertoire, but what does this have to do with the other
>>         topics in
>>         this thread?
>> I read this as saying that the constructivist activities that have
>> been developed *so far* by programmers in developed countries tend to
>> focus on high level concept learning rather than foundational skills.
>> And I agree with this statement.
>> I'm currently working on Typing Turtle, a typing trainer for the XO.
>> One could say "they have Write and Chat, they will learn how to type"
>> - that would be a constructivist approach.  I feel like there is a
>> need for more focused training of fundamental 'low shelf' skills,
>> that's why I'm working on that particular activity.
> The Typing Turtle will be immensely useful and immensely popular in
> Nepal. A typing tutor is one of the most frequently requested programs
> by the Nepali kids and teachers alike. Thanks alot to Wade for working
> on it.
> While no one is arguing that basic literacy and numeracy are less
> important, there are far fewer activities addressing them. Most focus on
> higher-level skills. Sometimes I feel there is an attitude that kids
> will "just learn" counting or reading by using Etoys or another program.
> I don't believe that will happen for a lot of kids.
> Also, too often we focus on empowering the smart kids in the class. This
> project is about mass education. Helping the vast majority of kids is
> the real point, not just the superlative ones.
> Case in point, some of the sharper kids at Bishwamitra school think a
> lot of the E-Paath math activities are lame and boring. The academically
> weaker kids love them and do them over and over until they master them.
> These are 6th graders who until recently couldn't count properly. Those
> students initially had trouble w/ some of our math problems for grade
> 2.
> Some kids may learn basic math and reading so they can go straight to
> using TurtleArt. They may hate simple math and language lessons. A lot
> of kids won't be able to go straight TurtleArt. We need to think about
> them as well.
> --
> Bryan W. Berry
> Technology Director
> OLE Nepal, http://www.olenepal.org

I think we have consensus on three issues:

(1) We should try to support better integration of more development
environments into Sugar (e.g., cookbook Flash and Javascript support
of the Journal);
(2) We should encourage Activity developers (regardless of their
choice of development environment) to avoid extensive use of
drag-and-drop (I'll try to eat my own dogfood with TurtleArt);
(3) We need lots more Activities.


Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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