Session 7: Computing

I’ve always enjoyed playing around with computer programs, their coding and HTML coding to see how different programs work. A little bit nerdy, I know, but it’s something that’s always interested me – even from a young age! I was disappointed to have missed out on last week’s session but I managed to catch up by working from my laptop at home, using the class blog and directed tasks.

Scratch was interesting to play around with. I enjoyed looking at examples of Scratch projects, and attempting to make my own Easter Bunny Easter Egg game, but found it difficult to actually produce a working game. I was able to make the bunny move, and hide the eggs, but they just wouldn’t appear again – even when the bunny had found them! So irritating..

Session 7 was a follow on from last week’s session, actually, looking at gaming again. Like I’ve said before, play is so important to learning – especially in younger children! And, it seems, in boys. This link provides stimulating material to get boys creative writing juices flowing by using an game on the iPad about Motorcycle Daredevils on iPads.

Derek Robertson’s blog is also an interesting read, and has some inspiring posts which can promote gaming in education. For example, one post I read was about dancing games, and this kind of game could be used to enhance learning in PE maybe, or Music!

Anywho! This week, we look at Kodu! The website hyperlinked has some great videos showing an overview of Kodu Game Lab.

I was hoping for this program to be a little bit easier to grasp within the time limit I had.

I am a great lover of the XBox Kinect. At home I play all sorts of games like Star Wars Kinect, Dance Central and Kinect Adventures. They are so much fun, and really get you up on your feet rather than just sitting down and pressing buttons on a controller.

This programming software also works with the Kinect – you can play as Kodu using it! It was a shame I didn’t have my Kinect in lesson.

I started using Kodu Game Lab by, to my dismay, using a tutorial. I hate tutorials at the best of times, but I needed to learn the basic skills before I went in so I could have the foundations to explore the software in more depth.

It was a bit frustrating at first, because I couldn’t understand why my Kodu would not eat apples that I had given to him (!!!) but once I got over the first ridiculous hurdle I managed to work out how to use the programme.

Here is a game I made. It’s called… Evil Tree. I programmed the tree so that whenever Kodu touches it, the tree shoots weird pink things at him.

Personally, I would use Kodu in a classroom environment over Scratch – or perhaps introduce Kodu first. Kodu’s interface is much more basic than that of Scratch, but still teaches the children about programming. It’s also fun to be able to play the game easily by just leaving the editing screen.

I also think that Kodu is more suitable for both Key Stage 1 and 2 children, as opposed to Scratch which I feel is more suitable for Key Stage 2. If I was to integrate this program into a lesson, which I most like would do to teach Computing, as per usual I would need a TA on hand to help any children who have difficulty reading the words, or understanding how the program works. Kodu is pretty straight forward, but some lower ability children may be stuck with creating commands or even creating the game. There is, as I complained about before, a tutorial which gives a step by step guide into the basics which all of the children should watch, but there are also templates which, again, could be vital to helping children explore.

Back onto the subject of the Kinect though, I would actually like to use the XBox Kinect in my lessons. The Kinect promotes a very hands-on approach to learning. The XBox website actually says that the Kinect should be used in classrooms, as it creates a whole new experience for kids. I think these games would be good:

  • Kinectimals
  • Kinect Sports
  • Kinect Sesame Street TV (for the younger ones)
  • Body and Brain Connection

I’d like to be experimental with the Kinect.. but maybe I’m being too adventurous. We’ll see!

Anyway, that’s all for today! Tune in next week for… eSAFETY!