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Picocricket.comI've begun more and more exploration of Seymour Papert's work and the ideas spilling out of the MIT Media Lab, specifically work from Mitch Resnick. I'm currently working on the implementation of an after school program where students children and a few teachers can explore, create and express themselves through the use of Picocrickets.

Students Children, teachers, administrators are bombarded by standards and standardized testing where each student child is expected to learn at the same pace and the same amount of content. As you can research, this model does not fit how learning transpires.

That said, I'm interested in other peoples work with trying to take back education through playful learning. I'm not looking at finger paints and blocks here, I'm talking designing learning experiences that genuinely engage students in learning that is, as Papert refers to as "hard fun"

If you haven't read anything by Dr. Papert. Drop what you are doing and go read some of his work. While it has touches of technology, it is really about the "art of learning".

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Brian - I've worked with kids on robotics competitions for several years and they always use this experience as good essay material in their college essays. What they learn through the experience can vary from cooperative techniques to programming to mechanics to CAD drawing/documentation. It's a great experience but is difficult to manage. It's much easier to have all the students sitting in neat rows working on worksheets or listening to a lecture. Real learning is messy and hard and frustrating. I'm very interested in you after-school program as I've been wanting to do this myself. Did you purchase one kit of the picocrickets? What age level are you working with. I'd love to hear more.
Colleen,
The afterschool is a multi-age group (24 children) from a K-5 school. We have two (2) workshop kits that we are using to implement this program. Week one will consist of an introduction and some exploration through basic construction of projects and programming. Picocricket kits come with some suggested explorations on placemats for students to work from. I'm really excited about the experience and look forward to the open-ended format, however, it might be tough to manage given that we have only an hour per week! I'll know it's a success if the children do not want to leave. :)

I plan on documenting as much as I can on my blog (http://briancsmith.org) and through video descriptions of their creations. Stay tuned...

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