Danelle Mondor writes about technology integration in lower grades. While I know that the list of mandated competencies is long, I wonder if viewing technology as a tool, albeit a really neat one, misses a huge opportunity. The most important thing I want my grade 1 son to learn is that he, not the machine, is in charge. I plopped him down in front of Alice a couple of weeks ago. While he’s no Spielberg, he has, through his sagas of dinosaurs chasing things, figured out what methods and loops are. He’s not quite got his head wrapped around parameters yet, but every few days, he’ll ask for Alice time instead of watching a TV show, and for a few minutes he creates the story.
I wonder if I shouldn’t have used Scratch instead. You can design sprites for it’s 2-D enviroment using a built in paint program, and its system requirements are low compared to Alice, which works in 3-D and forces you to use pre-built models unless you want to learn Blender. On the other hand, being able to swoop the camera around is part of what makes it so intriguing for my son. I showed him LOGO a few months ago and he was utterly bored by it. The use of drag and drop and pull down menus means he can spend time thinking about what he wants to see and how to make it happen rather than hitting his head against the wall of syntax.
I’m sure he’d love to start soldering if I’d let him, but I have to learn first.