Monday, November 4, 2013

Resources for young, Spanish speaking nerds and their teachers

My daughter and I are putting together a collection of Spanish language teaching material aimed at young people. We are focusing on three programs -- Tuxpaint, Scratch and FrontlineSMS.
  • Tuxpaint is a drawing program aimed at grade school kids -- it has all sorts of tools like stamps and transformations that let them quickly draw complex pictures. It also makes neat sound effects as they draw. Little kids learn it easily, and in doing so, they develop dexterity and learn to navigate the operating system and file system -- to build a mental model of their computer.
  • Scratch is a drag-and-drop programming environment aimed at junior high and older kids. It is used to create graphical programs which manipulate objects representing cars, balls, people, etc. Kids are able to create simple, event-driven programs immediately, and can move on to increasingly complex programs -- introducing many programming concepts like iteration, conditional statements, data types, etc. If they have Internet access, they can also share their programs and collaborate with a worldwide community that has shared over 4 million projects.
  • FrontlineSMS allows one to set up an SMS message list server for any community of common interest, regardless of what that interest is. Messages are archived on the server and forwarded to community members. This illustrates the idea of a Web service and empowers youth (or older people) to establish user communities in areas of their interest and expertise.
The teaching material is online and you are free to use it to teach kids or to learn on your own. If you use it or have suggestions for additions, improvements or others who would like to use it, please let us know. Also let other people know.

Update 9/26/2014 has translated their one-hour introduction to programming course into Spanish. The 20-lesson course introduces sequential execution, loops and conditionals using a subset of the Scratch programming language. There is a lot more material in Spanish if the student wants to continue.

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