My creation was: https://marcielewis.makes.org/thimble/thimble-memoir-by-marcie-lewis
When thinking about this as a learner, I had some initial reflections about how my students may feel sometimes. Within the applet, there was a lot of text to read in order to begin to tinker with the different components. When reading the “code”, I lacked the basic knowledge or understanding of what was plain text and what was instructions that the computer was going to follow. It was like reading another language – even though some of it was written in English, it placed high demands on my cognitive skills. I found myself rereading sections, trying to think carefully about what it means and how the code was creating the image I was viewing at the right hand side.
After a little while, I was able to decipher what was actual code and what was explanatory information. The next challenge was figuring out how to adjust the code to have the image appear as I wanted it. As the code involves utilizing numbers to explain color, and positioning. This required some additional exploration at other websites to try and locate the information that I was seeking. I discovered very quickly that identifying the information I was searching for would not be as easy as I originally thought because I didn’t have any prior knowledge of what actually I was looking for, and what to even type into a search engine. The first few websites I explored I couldn’t seem to find what I wanted so I decided to go back and give the good old “trial and error” method of problem solving a try, given the time constraints.
When thinking about how this connects to my students, as a teacher I have to be very careful to make sure they have enough technical and content knowledge to engage in the task successfully. Sometimes because we have enough knowledge about the task, we forget how many steps are actually involved, or what knowledge the students will require to complete the task. A simple task to me, can be a very complex task for my students without the proper preparation and scaffolding.
Obviously, this activity was structured to lower the entry point for coding through the use of explanatory code that was included in the applet, but the entry point still required some basic knowledge in order to complete it smoothly and without too much frustration. Developing strategies to help our students be placed in their “zone” – where the task is a “just right” task (not too easy, not too hard, just right) requires teachers to know their students – both their technological knowledge and their content knowledge.