Creating creative portfolios

September 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

For a typical teen, creativity seems to mean only one thing: write a program which is some sort of game. I had an interesting experience this week.

We are currently working on designing programming projects using Scratch. I introduced them to BYOB and a quick tour on Scratch fundamentals. Most of the students have had some training on Scratch, so they are now ready to take up a slightly harder assignment. Based on the interviews with my students, I paired them up with students who have similar interests. I gave them the rubric and asked them to choose a topic of interest. They were asked to come up with an idea and have me approve their concept.

Almost all of the first round of ideas could be easily classified into two groups: games using missiles & guns or sports based games. I had one group which absolutely refused to think beyond entertainment. They refused to think of a field that this would expand upon or try and serve some other purpose than pure entertainment. Trying to convince them to think from a different perspective was hard. What made the situation harder was that students thought of it as I shot their idea down.

It has taken couple of days to convince them to think of alternatives and come up with a good project to work on. This has led me to wonder, how do we encourage creativity and different thinking from the norm?

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An interesting approach before assigning project topics

September 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As an effort to get my students to pick project topics that interest them, I decided to do a one on one interview.  I enjoyed this. Students were quite open in discussing their interests and passions. The three questions I asked them were:

  1. What course do you like the most outside of this class?
  2. What are your interests? (What do you do for fun?)
  3. Which programming tool do you like best? (I tried not to give any suggestions or hints. But waited to see what their choices were)

I received some really nice answers. One student has an ear for music. In fact, when he designed his Scratch project, he wrote code that played drums with a lovely rhythm to it.  There are many artists in the classroom. Maybe they will bring out some interesting artistic projects.

I am going to utilize this information starting tomorrow.  The class will start a long term project in teams of two. I am going to guide them to pick topics of interest and suggest partners based on their interests. I will report results next week. After almost a month of just trying to play catch up, I think I am back to blog steadily for this year.

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