Kodu

How to create a basic world in Kodu (video)

Kodu

This video is a very basic introduction to creating a world in Kodu. I always find these difficult and I can never make a perfect video.

Never mind, I am confident I will get better as time goes on.

There are a few gaps that I will have to fill in when I next see them in lessons.

Enjoy the video and as usual don’t laugh.

My 1st day back – Disaster! Software not working!

It was my 1st day back at school today (yes, I know most people went back last week) and  have been looking forward to delivering my new Kodu scheme of work.

Over the holidays, as I am sure some of you have read, I spent 2 weeks creating resources for it.

I had 4 classes today that I intended to deliver the 1st lesson to. Period 1 and the 1st class came in. I explained the project, the learning objectives and the purpose of using Kodu for programming. Now it was time to the next step:

“OK folks, now its time to open Kodu and have a proper look.”

It didn’t work! The software refused to start! Not a great first day back. Four lessons planned and I could not deliver any of them as I had hoped.

What can you do when this happens? Panic? Cry? Get angry?

You have got to be composed and think on your feet.

Luckily I have a number of resources and websites available in just such an occasion. I would advise every teacher to make sure they have the same. Most teachers, I can imagine, do already. One website that is really useful for KS3 is www.reviseict.co.uk, there are some great revision games on there for students.

By period 5, the 4th lesson I was supposed to deliver Kodu, it was up and running. The technicians were great and dropped everything to ensure the software was working correctly. I was a very happy man.

I have to say, I really enjoyed teaching Kodu. It is great fun and really engaging. The students loved it too! The feedback was great, plus many of the students stayed in at lunch to work on their programs.

After an initial disaster I finished work a happy man.

Is teaching computing an intimidating prospect for an ICT teacher?

Computing

When I did my GTP several years ago I did next to no training in computing. As we all know the curriculum was very much ICT based and that was fine with me. The skills I have very much fitted in with the curriculum I had to teach.

Things are now changing. Gove has told teachers that they don’t have to stick to the old curriculum now. Over the past year and a half I have been able to teach my own curriculum anyway, as I have moved to an independent school. But it’s very clear there is a need to teach computing in schools before KS4.

I agree this should happen, and its very exciting. However, it is also quite intimidating. I have spent almost 7 years (including my training) just teaching ICT with very little computing. Where do I go from here? Well, I have already started teaching visual programming using Kodu, I am also in the middle of writing a computer science scheme of work to be delivered next year.

My biggest worry is programming. The reason I didn’t choose programming at university was because I find it very difficult. For me it is like using a new language. I am very much of the opinion programming is not for everyone. Although, I understand it is very important.

I am sure there are other teachers like me who do not program. If the government want programming in schools they are going to need to stump up some money for training courses.

There has to be room for both ICT and Computer Science.

I would also very much like to rebrand ICT, for me it is old fashioned. Perhaps Digital Literacy would be more appropriate?

There are several teachers who I follow on Twitter working on Digital Studies. Is that the rebrand we need? I don’t think there is one answer but would certainly like to  rebrand ICT at my school.

This has been a very cobbled together blog post, so I apologise if it does not seem to very coherent. Over the next few weeks, when I have more time I would like to expand on my thoughts.

Easter Planning – Kodu Part 5 (teaching resources)

Kodu

I have finally finished all the resources for my Kodu scheme of work. Its taken a while but I must admit its been great fun.

All the resources will be uploaded to Edmodo so that my students can access them from anywhere with an internet connection. This includes their smartphones. Tutorial videos will also be made available to encourage independent learning.

Below are all the resources I have created.

Links:

  1. Kodu Objectives Presentation (SkyDrive) (Google Docs)
  2. Evaluation (SkyDrive)
  3. Peer Assessment (SkyDrive)
  4. Checklist (SkyDrive)
  5. Documentation Example (SkyDrive)
I hope you find them useful.

Easter Planning – Kodu Part 4 (how will I teach it?)

Kodu

Ok folks…almost finished now.

Before we get into how I plan to deliver the lessons, I always like to think what independent learning skills my students will need to use and develop.

At the beginning of project, I then make it clear to the students that they will need to be independent and tell the the skills they will require. Some of the skills are:

  • Resilience
  • Reflection
  • Questioning
  • Noticing
  • Using your imagination
  • Empathy and listening
  • Imitation
  • Logical thinking

Many students have some of these skills already, but often struggle to identify when they are using them. These are also skills that can be developed throughout this project.

So, how will I teach it? Well, for the majority of time the students will be teaching themselves.

I will do the following:

  • Show them the MS promotional video
  • Show students Kodu in action using a game I have created.
  • Explain the learning objectives and learning outcomes. These will be available to students on Edmodo, so they can be viewed at anytime.
  • Make it clear to students why we are using Kodu.
  • Make exemplar documentation available on Edmodo so that students know what sort of thing I expect.
  • Ensure students understand the assessment criteria.
  • Deliver basic programming skills (students can also use the in-game tutorials.
  • Explain how basic changes can be made in settings.
  • Make tutorial videos available. There are great videos on the Kodu website.
  • Make learning resources available. (PDF, PowerPoint, video, images)
  • Inspire students
  • Help develop ideas where necessary.
  • Supply self and peer evaluation templates.
  • Assess student work using Edmodo.

As mentioned in the previous post, the idea is for students to be taught basic skills. It is then up to them to learn the more advanced skills. They will be given the resources to do this, and it will require some trial and error as well as logical thinking and patience.

Now, I know a lot of teachers who specify what needs to be done in each lesson. This of course is fine, but, I struggle to do this. I much prefer having more freedom and I don’t specify what must be taught in each lesson. Just as long as the whole project is covered. This may mean more weekly planning, but it works better for me.

Over the next few days I shall produce some resources and share these in my final Kodu post.

Easter Planning – Kodu Part 3 (possible learning outcomes)

Kodu

So, I have the learning objectives sorted, but what do I want my students to actually produce?

“Students should be working independently towards a single aim.”

The statement above is true, however, I still want to ensure there is a minmum requirement students will have to meet. If I had more time one of the things I would like my students to create would be a plan for their game. What is the story? What would you like the world to look like? What would the rules be? How would you win the game. However, for the time being at least, this will be put on the back burner.

So what will the outcomes be?

  • Students will be able to explain what programming means.
  • Students will create a world that includes (minimum):
    • Basic terrain
    • Mountains
    • Waters
    • Trees
  • Students will create a game that (minimum):
    • Allows user to control a character
    • Create characters that move on a path
    • Create a game that allows the user to score points
    • Allow the user to collect items.
  • Students will produce documentation that includes:
    • Well presented evidence of their game
    • Annotated screen shots explaining their ‘code’
    • An evaluation of their game
    • Feedback from at least 2 of their class mates.
Phew! There is plenty more for students to do, but this is what I would like them to produce as a minimum. This will then give my students the opportunity to produce a really good, unique game rather than a game I have designed and expect them to copy.
Next: What independent learning skills will students need and how will I deliver this scheme of work in lessons.

Easter Planning – Kodu Part 2 (possible learning objectives)

Kodu

At the end of my 1st year lessons before Easter I gave them a quick glimpse of Kodu. My students instantly got very excited, it was very clear that they could not wait to start this project (a project that was yet to be written).

During one of these lessons, a student turned around to me and said this:

“Whats the point sir? I thought we were not allowed to play games at school?”

This is going to be my biggest hurdle. Students MUST understand why they are using Kodu and what they are learning. It isn’t simply about playing games or in fact making games.

Today my plan is simply to decide what the project learning objectives should be. So far I have the following:

  • To understand what visual programming is.
  • To understand why we are using Kodu
  • To learn how to use the Kodu programming environment
  • To develop problem solving skills.
  • To develop self-evaluation
  • To develop peer-evaluation

These learning objectives will be broken down further during individual lessons. Due to only having 6 or 7 lessons to deliver this I am a bit limited to how much depth I can go into. However, many students will develop skills independently during enrichment time and at home. Essentially, this is what I would like to happen.

Students should be working independently towards a single aim.

Easter Planning – Kodu

Kodu

I have had a very busy Easter holiday so far. For the first 3 or 4 days I completed all my marking. All in all I marked about 190 projects. By the time I got to the very last piece of work I was completely exhausted. Once I had done that I planned for the interview I was carrying out in a few weeks. I put some questions together and notes together and email them to my fellow interviewer.

That was all the work I did last week as I went to the wedding of my step sister; which was lovely.

Its Tuesday now and it is time to do something exciting…create a new scheme of work. Over the next few days I shall be preparing a project for teaching my students about visual programming/game design using MS Kodu.

This may sound sad, but I have been looking forward to planning this.

Over the next few days I will post a little about the progress I am making.