Using an app-based game-creation platform called Bloxels, I tasked 4th graders with making the most fun game they could–for an audience of their classmates, the wider school community, and anyone playing in the the Bloxels Arcade.(1)
Students worked in small groups, framing their efforts with design thinking, a highly human-centered process that emphasizes imagining (or empathizing with) users’ experiences, creative problem-solving, and swift iteration. Within each group, students took primary responsibility for one of three roles: Character Designer, Layout Designer, or Story & Theme Designer.
(1) The games students shared to the Bloxels Arcade contained no personally identifying information.
During the 2019-2020 school year, in their Technology classes Nursery 4 (N4) and Kindergarten students worked on a project designed to expose them to some fundamental concepts of “computational thinking”—namely, decomposition (breaking down bigger tasks into more bite-sized pieces) and sequencing (putting a series of steps in order).
Using the book Fox Makes Friends as inspiration, students followed a recipe, of sorts, in order to (like Fox does in the book) ”make” friends—to construct pretend friends alongside real friends, their classmates.
Using a variety of craft supplies, N4 students created two-dimensional “friends,” while kindergarteners worked in three dimensions.
“When Fox wants someone to play with, he takes his Mom’s advice and sets off to make a friend. What happens along the way surprises him! Fox is about to make the best friends he could ever hope for, but not in the way he imagined.”
During a Game/Mobile Design internship at the American Museum of Natural History (Fall 2014) I worked on a program called “The Neanderthal Next Door,” which was
a 27-session youth program for 21 12th-graders that’s designed to develop and implement a digitally augmented (augmented reality-enhanced) print activity guide that explores the topic of human evolution through the frame of Neanderthals.
The piece of the program I worked on the most was developing a design-thinking approach that would guide the 12th-graders in their work. Given the time we had with the students, I thought an approach that used a selection of Stanford d.school’s Bootcamp Bootleg cards would work best. Below is a post about a few of the sessions that the program’s director, Barry Joseph, asked me to write for his blog, mooshme.org:
Integrate tangible computing into another assignment done during the semester.
I elected to add a tangible element to the design I did for the course’s “Empowering narrative-making in others” assignment earlier in the term–a MinecraftEdu-based project entitled “The Great Mural of Our People” (the text of which is here, for comparison’s sake). Here’s the result of adding Makey-Makey to the mix–wherein students design simple, interactive machines that simulate laborers operating the same machine together:
Digital Media Design for Learning (DMDL) degree; Cognitive Science and Educational Technology I course (Spring 2014).
Medium-long (approx. last quarter of the term, final group project design document).
my principle contributions: “Background,” “Problem Description,” “Delivery Platform” and “Project Narrative.”
As a group, produce a full, thorough design document on a project of mutual interest.
A few years ago, I read Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid (2007) and was floored to learn (amongst other things) that
[a] prominent  study found that by kindergarten, a gap of 32 million words already separates some children in linguistically impoverished homes from their more stimulated peers. In other words, in some environments the average young middle-class child hears 32 million more spoken words than the young underprivileged child by age five. (p. 20)
In class, I was fortunate to have three other classmates become interested enough in this “word gap” to work on a project together. What we came up with was a mobile application titled “OPEN: the Journal.”