Seeking Animation, Computer Game Instructional Materials

What are the best learning opportunities for a boy interested in creating his own animations and computer games?

I’m seeking book recommendations, other resources for my 12-year-old son, who has been asking me questions about how computer games are made. He’s done some experiments with animation, more or less completely on his own, using tools not particularly suited to the task such as the movie editing program included with Windows. He also got interested in playing around with the JavaScript tutorials at Khan Academy, which show how to manipulate shapes and colors with code.

I have some rusty skills with Flash and I’ve tried to interest him in learning that before. I’m pretty good with PHP and can hack a little JavaScript, but I find it’s easy to throw too much at him at once, to the point where he gets discouraged. It would be helpful to find some tutorials aimed at kids. Since he’s not a big reader, I’d particularly like to find a book or two that he would be motivated to read because this is something he wants to learn.

Suggestions appreciated!

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InformationWeek column on our Broward Virtual School experience

I recently got a chance to write about our virtual school experience as part of my day job at InformationWeek, which now focuses on technological innovation in education.

Author Photo
David Carr

The Education Lab Inside My House

February 12, 2013 09:15 AM

As the father of virtual school students, I see both the promise and the challenges of online education.

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Video: The Future of Learning

Some good perspective here on the need for intelligent blending of the virtual and the physical classrooms. I like Seth Godin’s perspective on altering the way schools work, rather than medicating children to fit into the way schools work.

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Web 2.0 Summit Video: Salman Kahn, Kahn Academy

Inspiring example of the virtues of self-paced learning, from a talk at Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. We’re not following this curriculum — we’re using, through Broward Virtual School, part of our county’s school system — but the goals are the same.

Particularly key is the principle of making sure a student masters a skill before moving on to the next, which hasn’t traditionally been possible with mass education, public, private, or charter. That’s why it’s so exciting to see Khan Academy experimenting with ways this mode of education can be brought into the public schools and scaled up. I believe that could make a huge difference for the future of public education.

Watch live streaming video from web20tv at
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Straight-A Twins, Thanks to Broward Virtual School (and Mom)

Stephen and Theresa both finished the semester with straight A’s. Theresa actually finished all of fourth grade math and is steaming ahead into next year’s studies. Stephen is not far behind – despite the fact that he was really lagging and often not doing his work last year.

This is the magic of highly individualized education. Complaining that the charter school we were in last year didn’t provide this level of attention kind of misses the point, since no teacher in a public institution would be likely to be able to provide that much attention to any one student. But our kids never have to worry about being left behind because they can always go back and do the work over until they understand it, and get it right. Believe it or not, they like it that way. On the other hand, they will never be held back from learning more when they understand the basics quickly and are ready to move ahead.

As I said, it’s a beautiful thing.

Some of the credit, of course, goes to their Mom (the learning coach) and everyone at Broward Virtual School.

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Making Me Proud

I’ve been meaning to post a note to say how proud I am of Beth Anne for taking this on, and how proud I am of Stephen and Theresa for the progress they’ve been making. This home school / virtual school adventure has been challenging at times for everyone involved, and Beth Anne and the kids have put in some long days trying to get all the work done. But the kids are starting to hit their stride with it, and they’re taking full advantage of the way it gives them the ability to learn at their own pace.

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Home School Mad Scientists

Baking Soda Science

Safety Goggles Are Fun

Time for an Evil Laugh

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Cool science!

Great scientific experiment today: the kids got a chance to sample a population (of rice in a shoebox cover) scientifically on a grid. Great fun and real science. Got to love that! Theresa wanted to use a cup of rice — I told her that she’d still be counting rice hours later if she tried that. The text said to use 1 tablespoon!

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Homeschool Groups

Although we are not working with a religious-based homeschool program, we are considering joining a Catholic homeschool group in our area. We already know 2 of the families from church. Had a great time “socializing” the kids last night with the group. These homeschooled children seem at least as capable of playing with other children. I found out that this group has an average of 2 outings a week! That’s a lot of work, and it’s plenty of POSITIVE socialization! Here is a link:

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Math is a challenge

Both Theresa & Stephen have done well in math in the past — at least their grades reflected that they did. However, learning new skills was often rushed. In this school we have been spending 3 to 4 hours each day on math alone. You think that this would drive the kids crazy, but it doesn’t. You know why? They feel like they have actually learned something at the end of the day. The sense of accomplishment is actually worth it to them. I think it is wonderful and worth the extra work. Meanwhile, back to rote memorization of times tables…

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