I came across Scratch another fantastic technological resource for using in the classroom on Wes Fryer’s wiki.
Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.
As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.
I highly recommend Chris Betcher’s video Teaching Kids to Think Using Scratch. He goes through the basics to get you started with scratch and demonstrates the different ways in which Scratch can be used in the classroom. He demonstrates a simple task he would use with students – programming a character to walk in a square. To do this students are required to think about units, measurement, numbers, degrees, angles, decimal numbers, shapes and position. These kind of tasks encourage students to think more deeply about problem solving and how they can apply computer programming in the real world.
Scratch is a free program downloadable from the web. You can download it at http://www.scratch.mit.edu/
Also click on the link above to Wes Fryer’s wiki for a wealth of resources on Scratch including tutorial videos, lesson plans and ideas for using Scratch in the classroom.