For their second LOGO lesson, I began with a quick starter activity in the form of a 'Rally Coach' exercise in which the children took turns with a partner to draw and explain what on-screen effect entering different sets of commands would produce:
After this, I then asked the children to draw regular 2D polygon shapes (i.e. A triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon and octagon) using exterior turning angles I had given them. Whilst this might not sound that thrilling, there are lots of 'tricks' which I taught them to make the activity a little bit more colourful and easier, including how to:
- enter several commands at once on one line in the commander window (i.e. fd 100 rt 90);
- double-click on commands in the commader window to save having to re-type them repeatedly each time they are needed;
- use the penup (pu) and pendown (pd) commands to move the robot around the screen without drawing lines so that multiple shapes can be drawn at once;
- enter the 'home' command to put the screen robot back in the centre of the screen when it gets lost off screen, facing upwards;
- use the 'setfloodcolor' and 'fill' commands to flood fill shapes in specific colours.
The children really enjoyed drawing the shapes and comparing what effects they each had managed to use. Most of the class liked sharing colour codes with each other so that they could draw shapes with multi-coloured outlines and the more confident children were especially eager to teach those who needed a little extra support how to use the pu and pd commands effectively to move the pen without it drawing on the screen.
Lots of them really seemed to respond well to the logical thinking required during the lesson where they had to think extra carefully about what commands they needed to enter since there is no undo function available in MSW LOGO to get rid of a mistake (aside from retracing your route in a white pen) - indeed, one child in particular focused really hard to try to draw a house by combining a square and rectangle shape together.
Having done this lesson for the past few years now, I think I've finally realised that it works best when children are given the opportunity to discover things for themselves like I did today - prescribing lots of instructions for them to follow is way too boring and they appeared to learn and understand the necessary programming skills much better this year when they were given the freedom to be a bit more creative in what they were allowed to produce.