Computer Literacy Program – Makeup Classes

January 15, 2010 at 10:39 am Leave a comment

Ryan will do more thorough posts about the curriculum, the activities, and the effectiveness of the program when all the classes are complete on These are just my own personal recaps and memories.

At the end of the Computer Literacy Program, each student was going to be rewarded a laptop. But in order to get that laptop, they had to attend all twelve classes. If they missed a class, it would have to be made up before they took ownership of their laptop.

For the most part, we had great attendance. Even during Tropical Storm Ida which closed all the schools and the Coast Guard Base, we had 11 out of the 12 kids show up. The one big exception was Class 3: Programming. With that class, all the kids showed up, but six of them arrived so late (they missed 1/3 of class!), we decided not to let them in. After that, everyone was more prompt and we only missed a student here and there for the remaining classes.

Class Makeup Students
Programming 6
Software 1
Data, Information, Knowledge 1
IT Jobs 1

As soon as we finished the final class on The Future, the kids who needed makeups immediately started bombarding poor sick Ryan. When’s my makeup class? When’s my makeup class?

“I don’t know,” I heard a weary Ryan reply, “I may have you make up the class online.”

My heart sank. You see, weeks earlier we had discussed me leading the makeup lectures. I was rather looking forward to that.

Luckily for me, we wanted to make sure all the kids got their laptops before Christmas and it would take time to figure out how to duplicate the lectures and activities on Moogle. So I got to do a lecture afterall!

With IT Jobs, we decided it was sufficient for the student to just read the slides. Data, Information and Knowledge was so short, we explained the concepts with some examples and that was that. Software I worked one on one with the absent student to go through the slides and activities. Programming, however, was a full class!

Makeup Class – Programming
The day after our last class (the very same day we built our driveway), we held the makeup session on Programming. Ryan had an obligation so I ran it solo. In addition to the make up students, two kids who already took that class attended as well. They didn’t have to be there, they chose to! One of them said she hoped to get an edge on the next day’s test.

The slides, the topics and the activities were identical to the first lecture. Since it was just me, I had to be particularly careful to make sure everyone had the slides and the sample files on their machines before we started. Of course, I did still have to stop the lecture once to help someone. 🙂

Computer Literacy Program - Software Makeup - Vicky Helps (by Vick)
Paused Lecture

I felt the lecture went really well. From the original class, I had a lot of precedence to tap into. I already knew Henry was a good way to explain logic gates. I knew that baking a cake and xkcd’s Troubleshooting Flowchart were effective in explaining algorithms.

Computer Literacy Program - Software Makeup - Vicky Explains Logic Gates (by Vick)
Logic Gates

Computer Literacy Program - Software Makeup - Animated Vicky Talking about Algorithms (by Vick)
Algorithms – Baking a Cake

Computer Literacy Program - Software Makeup - Explaining xkcd's Troubleshooting Algorithm
Algorithms – xkcd Cameo

Because I am woman, I got to be extra enthusiastic when I talked about Software History and Ada Lovelace! Then we talked about the history of programming languages and each kid got a sample punch card to keep.

Computer Literacy Program - Software Makeup - Vicky Explains Punch Cards (by Vick)
Explaining Punch Cards

When we got to programming concepts, I needed an example to help explain For Next. Once again, I found value in our household pets, many of which were still auditing the class.

Paraphrased: “I want to give all the animals in this house a bath. I have five animals. Jimmie, Henry, Stench, Mollie and the kitten. I’m going to do the same process five times. ‘For each’ animal, I’ll do the same steps. I turn on the water and let it warm up. I take Jimmie and put him in the bathtub. I wet him down. I take the shampoo and lather him up. I rinse him. Then it’s Henry’s turn. I would want to do the exact same thing. I go back to the beginning and turn the water on. I put him in the bathtub. I wet him down. I lather him up. I rinse him off. And then it’s Mollie’s turn. I go back to the beginning again–”

“So it loops?” a sixteen year old said.

Could his word choice have been any better?!? 🙂 (It may have helped that I was making a big circle with my hand as I talked).

Speaking of loops, the live action Bubble Sort went well. This time each kid was an array member. I served as the loop counter and I let us all collectively serve as the areCardsSorted Boolean. At the end of each pass, I would ask “Are the cards sorted yet?” and the kids were right on it with their answer.

Computer Literacy Program - Software Makeup - Array Members Getting Sorted
Bubble Sort

Just when I was feeling pretty darn great about class, we started going through the JavaScript examples, including the Steve Smith vs. Larry Fitzgerald page. As a refresher, it is a simple page that asks who is better- Steve Smith or Larry Fitzgerald. You click on your answer and a popup box will applaud or berate you accordingly. During the first run, we used that page to let the kids alter their very first JavaScript function. This activity was a huge hit during the first run. Not so much in the make up class. It turns out no one was particularly vested in Steve Smith.

“It says that I’m smart!” one kid said proudly after clicking on Larry Fitzgerald.

“I’m smart too!” another one declared.

“Me too!” a third one chimed in.

And unfortunately, every student found themselves pleased when the web page commended their intelligence. Unlike last time, not a single student had any interest in changing the prompt. Who would want to? I would like this page better if it told me I was dumb! I guess the lesson here is know your audience.

I tried to make them change the page anyway. But when we pulled up the source code, all my impeccably placed carriage returns were gone, making the JavaScript even more intimidating to read. The lesson here is make sure to pull up your files ahead of time and confirm they behave as you expect. Finally, with just me it proved to be too tricky to tend to everyone. I ended up displaying the code on the projector, explaining it and showing them how they would change it if they wanted to. So the lesson here is with the hands-on JavaScript, it does help tremendously to have two people circulating the room.

Despite the lab at the end, I was still pleased with how class went. I had so much fun and I am absolutely ecstatic I got a chance to lead the lecture! In my career, I’ve done dozens of software trainings and I’ve gotten chances to speak at user conferences. I thought those were thrilling experiences, but this small lecture for seven teenagers dwarfs them all.

(I had to insert “teenagers” into the above sentence because otherwise the word “seven” was right next to the word “dwarfs”)

Entry filed under: Computer Literacy Program, Elizabeth City, Neighborhood Kids.

Creative Commons Frozen Waterfalls Computer Literacy Program – Final Test and Laptop Giveaway

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Flickr Photos

3D Printed Products


%d bloggers like this: