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Teachers may be able to use the KidsRuby basic programming section as a reading assignment. It explains how programming works in conversational, kid-friendly language and makes comparisons to real-world situations to help kids understand. (Kids are told to imagine they're giving design directions to a turtle, and thus learn how to draw shapes.)
The section on basic Ruby programming language, however, isn't really as helpful. Kids get some basic instruction on a few topics, including how to write Ruby code for short sentences, program basic math equations, and set up simple question-and-answer responses. Teachers can create a hands-on learning experience by letting kids key in and test the simple example scripts in the text as they follow along. But additional work may be required to clarify certain terms and concepts that are introduced but not fully explained (or explained clearly), like the difference between using Fixnum and String objects.Continue reading Show less
KidsRuby pledges to make it "fun and easy to learn how to program," but the application's biggest benefit is its overview of how programming works. The main page has three tabbed sections. The Help tab offers background and instructional information. Some was adapted from the programming tutorial site Hackety Hack, which was the inspiration for KidsRuby; some can be a little confusing. The left side of the screen prompts kids to enter code on the first page they're taken to -- before they’re really told how to do it. The main menu lists seven sections. One requires a supported hardware device, and two others, which involve games, are difficult to use if kids haven't already mastered the Ruby programming language basics.
It's doubtful that the section's basic Ruby instructions would prepare kids to use the application's game design instruction. It's also difficult on a Mac OS to get past the first step on a game that's supposed to offer coding practice. (During a recent attempt, Ruby Warrior alternately restarted or offered a blank screen, and repeatedly posted a notification that the user wasn't taking action.)
Younger kids likely will need help from a teacher or parent to understand and replicate some of KidsRuby's instruction, and students don't necessarily learn how to create their own sites, with or without the KidsRuby platform. Teaching kids basic HTML would probably be easier (and possibly more effective). Providing a basic code cheat sheet to help kids plug items into a simple web page would give them a chance to develop the same strategy, tech, and critical-thinking skills.
Key Standards Supported
Expressions And Equations
Apply the properties of operations to generate equivalent expressions.
Identify when two expressions are equivalent (i.e., when the two expressions name the same number regardless of which value is substituted into them). For example, the expressions y + y + y and 3y are equivalent because they name the same number regardless of which number y stands for.
Use variables to represent numbers and write expressions when solving a real-world or mathematical problem; understand that a variable can represent an unknown number, or, depending on the purpose at hand, any number in a specified set.
Understand that a function is a rule that assigns to each input exactly one output. The graph of a function is the set of ordered pairs consisting of an input and the corresponding output.1
Represent three-dimensional figures using nets made up of rectangles and triangles, and use the nets to find the surface area of these figures. Apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.
Draw (freehand, with ruler and protractor, and with technology) geometric shapes with given conditions. Focus on constructing triangles from three measures of angles or sides, noticing when the conditions determine a unique triangle, more than one triangle, or no triangle.
Lines are taken to lines, and line segments to line segments of the same length.
Angles are taken to angles of the same measure.
Key Standards Supported
Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to an understanding of the topic.
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
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