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Saturday, April 04, 2015

My life as a tech teacher, part 5: It's all about control

Freelance technology journalist Alex Cruickshank continues from here. "In a flashback to my early school years, it occurred to me that part of the Scratch coding environment follows the old 'logo' turtle programming method." 


Many years ago we would write instructions to move a wheeled, pen-equipped device across the classroom floor. Pen up, pen down, rotate left, move forward, etc.

So far I've been teaching the children in a similar way, with pre-programmed instructions rather than direct control of an on-screen sprite. This is an approved method of using Scratch: there's even a 'Pen' section allowing you to leave a line behind your sprite as you instruct it to move around the screen.

But now for the next stage. I asked the class whether they typed instructions into any of the computer games they played at home. Since they're all rather young for Infocom text adventures they said no. We then discussed how computer game input usually results in immediate effect. You press a key or button, or move a mouse or tap the screen, and your character responds instantly.

So I gave them the task of adding immediate control to their sprite. Nothing too complicated; I wanted them to be able to move the sprite left, right, up and down using the arrow keys. This can be achieved in just four separate blocks of two instructions using Scratch, so it wasn't too hard for the children to get to grips with it.

Source: IDG Connect  

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