Author: Lidia Ristea
Methodology applied and tools used
In this period of international pandemic CODIV-19, the learning must continue beyond school by using online tools that are accessible to both students and teachers.
On 23 – 24 April 2020, I organized an online learning activity based on online inquiry learning that I put into practice with the 7th-grade students from I. A. Bassarabescu Secondary School, Ploiesti. I presented to my students a lesson plan that I created “Programmers and games” in order to promote the profession of a programmer.
In this online activity, my students discussed about what it means to be a programmer, what knowledge a game programmer should have.
For learning from home, I used the Graasp platform because it offers a multitude of useful tools in teaching-learning-assessment, and in the lesson plan I incorporated applications, web addresses, virtual labs, where the students could participate in discussions and leave their comments. They could also give mutual feedback, they could see the feedback received and they could connect directly to the Google Classroom and also our video conference using the Zoom application.
Why did I choose Graasp?
Because it has built-in: Google Classroom
Google Classroom is an educational application with an easy-to-use interface, which makes it a very useful digital tool that offers many advantages for online learning:
- streaming time, a good organization in the structure of lessons and homework
- effective communication both in class and out of class with students, but also with other teachers
- ability to post announcements, questions, topics and learning materials for students but also for teachers.
It is also an important resource of ideas for learning activities that contribute to the development of a strong online learning community.
In addition, it not only offers diversity, interactivity, the complexity of applications and laboratories but it is also a platform that allows the opportunity to insert in a single lesson plan more resources, more applications, more labs and more web addresses, which can be accessed whenever needed and from any device.
The participation of students in such lessons allows them to create and manage applications in areas of interest and provides them with a constructivist, interactive and integrated learning environment.
The students also participate in collaborative learning with tasks based on individual or group learning.
Zoom is an application that is now already included in the list of applications on Graasp that can be added to the lesson plan or any proposed activity.
In order for the proposed activity to be interactive, we introduced applications (Drop file, Padlet, Concept Map, Text input, Collaboration) on Go-Lab but also on Graasp. The lesson plan could be used both online and offline, with tasks for students, where they could give each other feedback, participate in discussions and leave comments.
Educaplay offers a variety of tools for creating interactive activities such as riddles, dialogues, puzzles, games and quizzes. It also offers a blog that serves as an online community for teachers to share their experiences and has a direct button to Google Classroom.
An application model created
READ and LISTEN TO BOOKS
- Enjoy books shared by worldwide members
- Connect with authors to show appreciation
- With friends, family, and classmates
- Multiple students can edit the same book at the same time
- Video chat with collaborators
- Sharing books – getting positive feedback from the community
In addition to these applications, I also used collaborative education applications – Google Docs, spreadsheets and presentations which were very effective for students because they enabled teamwork, communication and creation in a timely manner for the tasks they had to perform.
By participating in the online environment, the students benefited from useful information about the profession of programmer and especially the knowledge that a programmer must have in creating games. The C ++ programming language is integrated into the school curriculum, students were using an application Code Blocks and many more. Some students were very passionate about various games.
Students enjoy the method of learning through investigation. For this reason, we offered the possibility of a personalized approach to study topics, where the student had to search, discover, apply using information, self-evaluate, evaluate others. Moreover, to select what is important to them and make the best decision possible.
We created this lesson plan to guide students in learning a programming language and to guide them towards a career in IT.
Lesson plan can be found here.
In the created lesson plan, I provided my students with information about the mBlocks application which is similar to the Scratch application but which also has a built-in Python programming language. This information aroused their curiosity about the features of adding animations to some characters and creating custom sets using other applications such as Adobe Photoshop. The task given to students was to create group projects about science and technology based on interactive games, space missions, and other topics using the Scratch and mBlocks applications. Here are some examples:
During the online meetings with the students, the formative evaluation consisted of the presentation in the virtual environment of the made projects and participation in group discussions, giving feedback on the created products.
I also created a quiz with questions about the game programmer’s job.
The applications created by the students will be uploaded on the Padlet page in the Graasp lesson plan in the Reflection phase.
An example of a student’s project – “Robots in the future”
Evaluation of the activity
The activities of this lesson plan helped students to learn by creating projects on the recommended topic making connections with real life. Not all projects created so far fully follow the suggested recommendations, for instance, to use as many blocks as possible, but can be improved by creating more applications.
This activity in which the students participated had the initial purpose of putting into practice the imagination, creativity when creating useful projects based on reality. Another purpose was to motivate students to learn how to improve their projects so they are examples to be followed by other colleagues from other classes.
In addition to the content of the curriculum and the textbook of Informatics and ICT, this online activity in which students participated was based on their encouragement to develop digital skills and experience the process of designing and creating digital content.
This lesson plan that I have created will also be implemented at school when the classes resume. Certain students will have to repeat the work tasks that they have not solved yet or to complete the tasks that they have solved superficially.