TKP Tips: Teaching the SmallBasic SQUARE recipe

This is generally the first recipe the kids work with there are lots of teaching tips on how we teach programming generally, i.e. using Agile methods and specifically for that first recipe on TKP here.  Please go there FIRST if need be.  We also use the SPIRAL recipe as a fill-in recipe when teaching this recipe.

In this blog post, I’ll talk about how to teach the first recipe – SQUARE.

I’ll start with a reminder.  All recipes have (or will have) 5 parts.  To teach a full-set for each recipe takes between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on the skill of the kids, teachers, number of kids, etc…Each recipe is designed to teach one-to-three core programming concepts, such as For loops, If statements, Subroutines, etc…The recipe library is sequential (easy-to-hard, top-to-bottom) and can be found here.

The parts of the SQUARE recipe are as follows:

1) Recipe – guided line-by-line translation, to teach core concepts. For SQUARE, you are teaching core IDE and language concepts such as objects, methods, etc…) and For loops.  You are also starting off with good habits, such as reading documentation, running after each line translated, etc…A teaching video for the core SQUARE recipe is below. Also we’ve published ‘Cheat Sheets’ for each recipe, which give you the translated code and the order to teach (line numbers) so that the kids can run the recipe after each line translated and get visual feedback.  Go here (scroll down) for the SQUARE ‘cheat sheet’.

2) Variation – instructor – led verbal refactoring and modifications to add concepts to the solution. We use the grid shown below to get the kids thinking about the different aspects of the square.  Here we introduce variables and the MessageBox and Colors objects too.

3) Recap – presented by the instructors, re-do the recipe to reinforce core concepts

4) Quiz – facilitated–pairs reach 100% mastery by working together. Remember to do a recap, instructors repeating the recipe BEFORE you get the kids started with the quiz.  We’ve also made a teacher-video of the quiz segment.  If one or more of the pairs finish before the others, you can ask the pairs who are done to start working on the SPIRAL recipe (video at the bottom of this page).

5) Homework – same as quiz. Finally, if you have time, you can facilitate the students in doing the homework for SQUARE .  This can also be done as an ‘at home’ assignment if need be.  The video below gives you some facilitation tips.  We recommend that you do the first three questions as a group to get everyone started off right.

6) Xtras – As mentioned we use the SPIRAL recipe as a fill-in during the facilitated sections of teaching SQUARE.  For example, if a pair finishes quiz or homework before the others, then have them import ID SPIRAL and give this recipe a try.  We have a teacher’s ‘cheat sheet’ (answer key) here.  Also here is the teacher training video.

We are really excited about the growth of TKP.  We welcome feedback on the how we can make these videos better for you as TKP teachers.

Happy teaching!