That is what I have been doing over the past 10 weeks, challenging myself in what I am doing with my SPINs. In Term 1 I had a SPIN for programming where I used the programming language Scratch. This term I took it up a level to a text based programming language, called python. This is able to be freely downloaded and installed on the computers without having a licence which makes it work in our BYOD environment as well as being able to be installed on the school computers.
The challenge of programming is that sometimes it is just maths problems that get created and solved. I decided that I wanted to look at game development. Not your normal games of multiplayer environments in 3D. The simple games of Quizes, 8 Ball, Hangman, Paper Rock Scissors and High Low.
These are games which can be developed to increase in skill and ability. Perfect for a differentiated class. Why you might ask. The class that I teach is not just one year level. It is 4 year levels in one.
I have year 8, year 9, year 10, and year 11 in the same class. One thing is that we do not have the achievement standard to contend with. This is about the learning. Students come in with all levels of ability already, working the tasks into the different scaffolds helped. It meant that a student could still succeed. Working with groups of students around the class provided opportunities for support, most of the time it was a student asking before they tried the code themselves. They wanted the validation, yet the answer was almost always the same, "Have you tried it?"
A number of these ideas have come from other resources on the Internet, but being able to develop these and work them towards our students knowledge and understanding. Bringing in our schools Learning Design Model helps students understand the common language in our school as well as areas that they may need to look at and develop.
Using self assessment tools like SOLO taxonomy provides students with feedback and those next steps in their learning.
As I near the end of term, I reflect back at where we started with code being copied from the TV and whiteboard, through to now students planning, testing and developing work as an individual or peer programming. Through the use of other items such as playing cards for high low and working out what has to happen, and what steps are required. Through to playing hangman in class and working out the word, a list of letters tried and how many guesses left(which is interesting as some are as little as 8, where some have 16). Getting students to work out the planning through playing the games has helped immensely.
But one thing that still gets the students are the use of the less than and greater than signs (< >) in programs.
if num1 < num2 : # num1 is less than num2
if num1 > num2 : # num1 is greater than num2
Why is it so difficult?