I have started making the students do a daily programming assignment using Corona. I typically give a larger assignment, lecture a little and then turn them loose to work on it at their own speed. Kind of like the assignments seen at the end of the chapter; read the chapter, do the assignments. The problem is I am getting two out of nine with the focus to read through the chapter (or watch the videos) and the other seven asking what they did and pretty much copying it. The daily assignments are maybe 10 lines of code but it builds on or uses the previous assignment. I am using the Crash Course videos at the moment and the assignments target a concept from one or two videos. I take what the video taught them and tweak the assignment so the kids have to do something semi-original using that concept. They will end up building a game similar to the one in the videos but it will be their art, logo and so on. They really do not want it to look like someone elses game and they are trying to outdo each other to some extent. I did this mini-assignment business last year with the textbook I was using but in my infinite wisdom I did not write anything down. I am taking notes this time. What an original idea. The tricky part is making the assignments easy enough to do in a period or two yet not so easy they do not have to figure things out. There is a side effect problem involved. The kids will get wrapped up in the “art” aspect (finding a cooler spaceship object to move) instead of working on getting the thing to move. They will spend an hour looking through Google Images and then cannot figure why the assignment is late. Win some, lose some.
I have also gotten them off the computer lab machines. My computer lab is a very unique mixture of computers, a couple are even less than 5 years old, so we were having graphic card issues with some of the not so new machines. We got a very nice technology grant this year so I bought the kids in the class that did not have them a laptop. No more problems in that area. I am also employing Google Drive to manage assignments. It is easy to share the assignments and I am going to have the kids turn in their programs in shared folders. The school is transitioning to Google Apps and this will get me a core of Google trained kids. Two birds with one stone. I am also supposed to train the teachers how to do this so this is my major test run. More dead birds.