communities of learning



SCRATCH is the last programming tool for children we will discuss. Scratch is a visual and object oriented programming language. The language is developed by MIT. Scratch works with building block instead of with code written in text. This reduces syntax errors. The building blocks fit into one another like LEGO blocks. Scratch is particularly useful for creating animations and games.

The actors, or objects, are called Sprites. A Sprite can have several Scripts. Below a screenshot of a Scratch program with two Sprites dancing. On the righthand side the actual code. The fact that you have to write the same ‘dancing ‘ code twice, namely for both Sprites, means that the program is not truly object oriented.
There is a large Scratch community and once you have an account you can easily share programs. The Scratch program and interface can be switched to almost any language you wish.


Michal Armoni and Moti Ben-Ari, researchers in Israel, observed that students did not pick up the concepts of computer science while working with Scratch. They developed a textbook to enforce that concepts were learned while programming. The result is a 30 page textbook with lessons, aimed at grade 9 and 10 students, which requires a lot of reading. Maybe you as a teachers could use the textbook and pick out ideas to encourage the learning of programming concepts, using tasks, questions, reflection and at times instruction.

See the textbook Computer Science Concepts in Scratch,  based on Scratch 1.4 !

SCRATCH is an object oriented programming language.
LOGO (Turtle Academy) is a functional programming language.
Java Script (Code Monster) is a scripting language and more a functional than an object oriented programming language.

Pair Programming

pair-programmingPair programming is a part of eXtreme Programming, an agile system development methodology. In Pair Programming two programmers sit together behind one computer. One is coding and the other reviews while communicating about the best solutions. The programmers frequently changes roles. Findings from different sources show that de results of the products contain less errors, are of a higher quality, and cost less man hours !

Research in the industry as well as in class indicates that starting programmers and students who practise pair programming are more confident and learn from each other tips on programming language, and design skills.  Girls show a higher interest in the subject when pair programming is used in class.

pairs-working-ipad2Children (and many adults) learn much more when they work together on one PC. This is not only because two people see and know more than one, but because working in pairs demands (verbal) communication, which is crucial for learning and understanding. Children do also benefit from working in pairs on one PC or iPad when working on programs and tasks that require problem solving skills.

Examples of activities on a computer that require problem solving skills:

Literature/research on Pair Programming:

A. Cockburn, L.Williams. (2001). The Costs and Benefits of Pair Programming,

Williams, L. et all. (2002). In Support of Pair Programming in the Introductory Computer Science Course. Computer Science Education, Vol. 12, Issue 3.

“Student pairs are more self-sufficient which reduces their reliance on the teaching staff. Qualitatively, paired students demonstrate higher order thinking skills than students who work alone.”

Liebenberg, J. , Mentz, E. & Breed, B. (2013). Pair programming and secondary school girls’ enjoyment of programming and the subject Information Technology. Computer Science Education. Vol. 22, Issue 3.

“Girls’ motivating for (programming and) computer science was much higher when they were allowed to work in pair. Girls’ confidence in the subject was higher in the pair programming classes.”

“A critical mass of girls is required to make girls enjoy and choose computer science and careers. Pair programming is an important means to reach that goal.” 

Pair Programming with kids, adolescents? Read the blogs and use one of the following programs:

Effective talk in the classroom

The website offers great examples on pedagogy and didactics that build on concepts like growth mindset, ownership, effective learning, social and emotional learning, collaboration.

One topic is on Strategies for Effective Talk in the Classroom. This is not about the teacher talking, but about pupils/students talking and communicating. The approach supports learning in all subjects. It shows clearly how important it is that all pupils learn to communicate and express themselves clearly in different settings. The guidelines provided can be applied by any teacher.

MOOC -Success

Young woman juggler is juggling balls.A good start in 2016 !

Second run of the Open Online Course Success- Unleash yourself  starting in January 2016.

The course is about learning good habits that lead to success. Participants are introduced to four main focus areas mindsetgoals and tasks – individually and as part of a team. The course runs for 9 weeks and anyone with internet connection can participate. Everyone can benefit from the course, especially students and young professionals.

Course Date: January 11, 2016 up to March 14, 2016
Registration is OPEN.


MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and was first developed by Stanford University in 2008. The aim of MOOC is to offer online courses for an unlimited number of students wordlwide and is published via open access on the web. 

Design Bridges

The Bridge Designer program is part of the Bridge Design Contest for civil engineers. The program enables students to design bridges, test the design, and analyse the test results. Both construction and costs are important factors. The design is part of a contest among students, but can also be used without participation in the contest. After the design a simulation of a truck crossing the designed bridge can be viewed.

The software Bridge Designer (2015) can be downloaded for free and is different for every new yearly contest.

The design requires a set of choices that influence the overall construction, the architecture, the costs. Thereafter the details have to be designed choosing from multiple options in terms of number of joints and supports, type of material etc.

Apart from use at university level among (civil)engineering students, the program could also be used as a tool to prepare a design of a bridge at secondary school level. Hereby, the tool could be used as an intrioduction. The program visualises the different type of constructions used in building bridges and their names.

Despite the high level of data and complexity of the designs you can make, is Bridge Designer  a highly interactive and intuitive program.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  PC, Mac
 Requirements  Java

Edit Videos using EDpuzzle

Every month DiScoro writes about resources that can be used in schools and about inspirational issues. See Services in the Menu for workshops, training etc.


EDpuzzle logoFlipping the classroom or just using videos in the teaching and learning process? Then you will most likely wish to make or modify videos so that they fit YOUR class. EDpuzzle is a free program and a great tool to do exactly that.

If you wish more sophisticated software for educational purposes, which also enables you to capture your screen, you’ll be better off with Camtasia Studio. However, this is not freeware.

You can upload videos from your own PC or use videos from a list of video channels supported by EDpuzzle, such as:

  • Youtube
  • National Geographic
  • Khan Academy
  • TED Ed

Functionalities EDpuzzle:

  • Crop video
  • Insert interrupts by adding questions to the video at certain intervals. Research has shown that people remember the information disseminated through videos better when they have to interact.
  • Add voice or sound
  • Assign video to class
  • Monitor progress
  • Use EDpuzzle videos on another platform (blog, LMS, website). However, you will use the interrupts and questions.

Some drawbacks I discovered when working with EDpuzzle:

  • There is no option to give feedback after students have answered the question unless you wish to give this in the voice-over. Though, the feedback will be the same for everyone.
  • How to rename a created video is not so obvious.
  • How to de-assigning (undo the action) a video which is  assigned to a class is not so obvious.

Video from EDpuzzle

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  PC, tablet*, smartphone*
 Requirements  Browser

* Voice-recording is not yet possible on mobile devices.


DiScoro was invited to Iceland as keynote speaker at a conference. The audience consisted of twenty researchers from seven different countries. They research mathematics textbooks and how teachers work with these resources. My speech was about:

How do publishing houses evolve from paper-based mathematics textbooks to digital books?
What are the options when you design digital media?
What are the possibilities when you use digitale media?
What are the demands that come up in: taskformat, hints and feedback?
What are the challenges for authors and researchers?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.