Training is fun?

This past week, several Goochland educators took a week off from their summer break to fire-up their computers for some intensive learning inspired, in part, from music DJs and characters in Alice in Wonderland.


Sponsored by the Digispired II and the CVC grants administered by the Institute for Teaching Through Technology and Innovative Practices of Longwood University, teachers spent a full week learning two free applications designed to teach the basics of computer programming to students, supporting STEM-education across the curriculum.

Scratch – the programming environment from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology – lets kids author multimedia movies and games using drag-and-drop programming blocks. Through the Scratch website, students can share their creations with other students. To date, over 1.7 million projects are available for download, and the site encourages “remixing” of projects by other Scratch-ers, worldwide.

Alice – the programming environment created by Dr. Randy Pausch (who recently passed to pancreatic cancer, and who late in life gained fame with his Last Lecture and Last Lecture book) at Carnegie Mellon University – challenges students to create in three dimensional space. The program, now used at colleges and universities, is often used as the first tier in a computing science program. Like Scratch, Alice can be used to create multimedia movies, games, and interactive experiences.

My appreciation goes out to the following Goochland teachers who took part in this event. Deb Cross, GHS, Leona Barnes, GMS, Jamie-Ellen Spessard, RES, Matt Wilson, GHS, Kim Bachmann, GHS, Rhonda Kass, GMS, Nancy Lewis, GHS, and Liz Kuhns, GHS.

Our aim was to have fun – but we hopefully inspired these teachers to take bold steps this year by introducing the basics of programming to their students. My thanks go out to Dr. Manorama Talaiver from Longwood who enabled us to offer this training in Goochland along with students from Longwood and Powhatan county. Please ask our teachers about their experience this summer and how we can inspire more teachers to use these tools to encourage constructionist learning practices in grades 3-12.