Below is a TED presentation by Mitch Resnick whose MIT team developed Scratch, an object-oriented programming language for kids. Scratch is an engaging, flexible and easy-to-learn programming platform that can be used to create games, animations and simulations. Scratch is included in every secondary school SmartLab and is supported by a full set of Level 1-3 Learning Launchers.
If you don’t have time to watch the full 15 minute presentation, skip to minute 11 when Mitch talks about how a student named Victor learned an applied math concept in the process of creating a computer game. Note that Victor’s work was not structured as a math lesson and, as true student-centered learning, it would have been impossible to predict which specific math standards would be addressed in the course of his project work. Nonetheless, Victor learned an important math concept in a relevant, application-driven context. Powerful stuff. Listen further as Mitch discusses Victor’s learning in the broader context of college and career readiness.
This is the essence of the SmartLab learning experience.
Examples like this occur every day in SmartLabs all across the country. To be sure, direct instruction in regular math classes is critical to ensure that learners are introduced to a predictable set of math standards. But opportunities to apply these concepts through personally relevant, project-based learning can be a powerful way to reinforce these standards.