teaching machines

Code Scrambler

Some of the most engaging learning I’ve ever experienced was in high school Spanish class. What magic did Mrs. Lee possess that made instruction so enjoyable? She had us play countless games. I try to emulate her foreign language classroom when I teach folks a new programming language and am therefore always on the hunt […]

Blocks as a Gateway

Since starting work on Madeup, I’ve been trying to read everything I can on procedural design. My most recent discovery is John Maeda’s Design by Numbers. The author makes it his mission to teach programming principles by drawing on a 100×100-pixel canvas with a very simple language called DBN. In chapter 6 of his book, which discusses […]

The Shallow End of Languages

Learning a foreign language for the first time? Start with Esperanto: The results of these studies … demonstrated that studying Esperanto before another foreign language expedites the acquisition of the other, natural, language. This appears to be because learning subsequent foreign languages is easier than learning one’s first foreign language, whereas the use of a grammatically simple […]

Bruner on the Power of Writing and Mathematics

I’d seen Jerome Bruner’s Towards a Theory of Instruction recommended somewhere, and my library had a well-worn copy of just waiting to be read. Bruner himself is apparently also well-worn. He was born in 1915—and is apparently still teaching! Much of what Bruner has to say revolves around active learning. Probably this book was more revolutionary for its […]

Flipping my classroom with Ruby

I’m trying something funny in my mobile software development class. I scheduled it in the computer lab, not a lecture hall, and students are going to have to teach each other some things they prepared before we meet. Here’s what I’m telling them: You will do some preparation before each class, by watching a video […]