George Outreach Initiative - Instructor
A quick start guide

Are you interested in being an instructor as part of the George Outreach Initiative? But maybe you feel a bit uncertain as to how it might go, or if you are able to do it?

Then read on. Here I will outline a "how to get started", including how the first and maybe second session might go.

Read about the George Outreach Initiative here

A few words of support

Keep in mind that when you go to a school, they are very very happy to have you. Even grateful. All the schools would love to have there kids learn basic programming, and they are also mandated by the state to do so. But they mostly don't have the pedagogical resources to do so. And the fact that you are coming to them, helping them, and at no cost to them is very much appreciated.

In the classroom, you will have an attentive and helpful and supportive teacher. The teacher may not know anything more about programming than the children. But he or she will understand everything you explain immediately, and will then be able to turn around and help you help the children. Also, the teacher will enjoy this very much herself, and will love the journey of discovery together with the children.

The children will think this is very exciting. Turtle Geometry (which you will be teaching initially) is very visual and intuitive, and the kids get immediate feedback from the very first command they enter.

You will be working with the same group of children weekly for an extended period, and it is very exiting to watch the children gradually learn and grow, and to see them have "a-ha" moments. More than anything you are helping develop their ability to think.

And then watch, as they start getting creative!

What you will need

A laptop. Obligatory. Make sure you can connect to any projector. Arrive early to make sure everything works for you. And of course you have George installed already, so you don't need internet access. (If you want internet access, you better solve it via your own phone, as it is often problematic connecting to school networks.)

A turtle. Recommended. Go buy a small toy turtle. 10-15 cm ... It is both fun, and useful to illustrate movements and concepts.

One or more USB memory sticks. Optional. Useful if you want to install George on multiple computers quickly. Simply download the latest installers for Windows and Mac ahead-of-time.
Alternatively, you can always download an installer from the internet. The computers need to be online anyways when you install, as the main part of the program is not (at present) bundled in the installer.

Preparation

Find a school/class. We have lots of schools lined up already. But if you know of a school not on our list, which you would like to go to, we will contact that school and gage its interest and qualify it. See an updated list of schools here

Contact the teacher - by e-mail or phone. Say hello. Preferably set up a visit (most practically after school hours)

Plan your first session - what you might want to say (and how), what you will want to do - and consider how much time you will have. Normally a session will be about 45 minutes. But it can easily run into an hour, depending on the kids (how engaged they are), how much time you have, etc. Better to end the session at the planned time, leaving the kids wanting more.

Your first session

Turn off the projector.

Make sure that if the kids have laptops, the lids are closed. Better if they don't have them right away, but go get them when instructed.

Start with a story about the turtle. Tom the Turtle. (Show them Tom if you have bought one). Tell how he knows a few commands: forward, left, right. (These words are in English, but later we can teach him Swedish words also). He has a pen with him, and wherever he goes, he draws a line. But by asking him to move about, you can get him to draw interesting things.

Turn on the projector.

From your computer, show them Tom. ("Turtle Geometry" -> "Screen") (You might get a few chuckles when they see he is just a small triangle.)

Open an "Input". Type (forward 50) . Think out loud as you consider how many "turtle-steps" you want him to take. Emphasize that all commands must be inside parens (). Press "Eval". You might a an "oooh" or an "aah" when he moves and draws a line.

"Eval" again. Then change the command to (left ..) .. maybe 50? See what happens. Maybe 50 again?

Type (reset) at the top of the input. This makes clears the screen and makes Tom come "home" before every "Eval".

Build a square line by line. Have the children suggest angles and distances. (Point to that they probably don't want to do 10000000000, as then Tom will end up in Stockholm, or spin forever!)

No have the kids get/open their laptops, and try to get Tom to draw a square. This will take them plenty of time, especially if they are 8 or 9 and don't know how to type parens. Also, keep showing them how to use arrows-keys, Return, Backspace, rather than mouse/trackpad to move the cursor about.

If some children complete the task, ask them to change their code to to a triangle. And for those who manage that, challenge them to figure out how to do a star!

This probably what you will have time for. If you want, you can "wow" them at the very end with a star using dotimes. Then make your exit.


Enjoy!

Terje's journals

A complete set; journaling every session I have had with each group. They are a bit messy, full of typos, and worse. But they contain ideas, experiences, insights, and plenty of code snippets. I hope they can be of value. I will continue to update them as I progress.

Other journals

If you would like to write a journal and share it with others, I will be more than happy to link to it from here.

If you need help publishing a journal, ping me.

Wiki?

I am considering starting a community-driven Wiki - which will contain a compendium, tutorials, journals, tips and tricks, and more.



This page last updated: 2017-02-23