Video Lessons

Learning Objectives


Friday, July 18

Expo Today!

Today is the day you get to show off all the awesome work you've done in the past three weeks! Our schedule for the day is below as follows:

Classes end at 11:00am for all enrichment courses. That includes us! Students will not be released early for lunch.

Expo will be from noon to 1:00pm. You must check out before you leave room 317!

Today at 1:00, after Expo is complete, the Walking RAs will walk the non-checked-out students back to the dorms.

Conferences will be from 1:00-4:00.

What next for students who have completed 4th or 5th grade?

Apogee technology courses

  • Introduction to Web Design
  • Bits and Blocks 2: Logo to Python
  • Robotics
  • ROVing Robotics: Exploring the Technology of Unmanned Vehicles

Gifted Learning Links

Check out CTD's online classes!

  • Alice
  • Scratch
  • Scratch II
  • GameMaker
  • Web Design

Saturday Enrichment Program (SEP) and Accelerated Weekend Experience (AWE)

If you live near Evanston or one of the SEP/AWE campuses, you can classes during the year. Check the CTD web site for more details.

What next for students who have completed 6th grade?

Spectrum technology classes

  • Introduction to Computer Programming Honors: Java
  • Ruby on Rails: Web Apps for Everyone with the Starter League
  • Robotics Honors

Gifted Learning Links

Check out CTD's online classes!

  • Interactive Web Design with PHP and MySQL
  • Designing Games & Puzzles on iOS
  • iOS Programming I
  • iOS Programming II
  • Graphic Design
  • Java Honors
  • Programming in C++ Honors
  • Python I
  • Python II
  • Computer Guts

Saturday Enrichment Program (SEP) and Accelerated Weekend Experience (AWE)

If you live near Evanston or one of the SEP/AWE campuses, you can classes during the year. Check the CTD web site for more details.

What else?

There are also CTD courses in many other areas that might interest you. Check out the CTD web site!

Here's a link to the AAA-Gamez web site!

Thursday, July 17

Commands and Reporters, Tanks and Hoppers and Pipes

Before lunch, you should be finished with ALL of TanksHoppersAndPipes.mwx and ALL of CommandsAndReporters.mwx.

To make sure you have a clear picture of what these projects should like, I'm adding some samples of excellent work below.

Here is Katherine's square1 vocabulary entry from page2 of CommandsAndReporters:


Here is Damen's show sum 4 5 entry from page1 of TanksHoppersAndPipes:

show sum 4 5


We'll finish up walkthroughs today.

Wednesday, July 16

Commands and Reporters, Tanks and Hoppers and Pipes

Before lunch, you should be finished with page3 of TanksHoppersAndPipes.mwx and page6 of CommandsAndReporters.mwx.


I'm seeing great work on Expo projects! Today, I'll starting sitting with people one at a time to walk through Expo projects and make sure everyone is on track with Commands and Reporters and Tanks, Hoppers and Pipes.

Expectations for Expo projects are:

  • Projects include written procedures.
  • Projects have been thoroughly tested for defects.
  • Projects demonstrate your understanding of commands and reporters (including if, forever, and setters and getters) and the use of different kinds of words (for example numbers, turtle names, color names, procedure names) and lists (including instruction lists).
  • Projects include at least one turtle that uses Rules Tab.
  • Enough information is included in the interface for users to play the game without prior experience or explanation from the programmer.

Exceptional projects will include one or more of the following:

  • Written reporters.
  • Correct use of touchedturtle or message.
  • Correct use of a state variable (I have/value pair) in the State tab of the turtle's backpack.
  • Use of objects like sliders, radio buttons or text boxes to change the turtle or some other aspect of the game.
  • Exceptional story lines or themes.
  • Exceptional use of art for backgrounds or shapes.
  • Exceptional teamwork.

Tuesday, July 15

Why aren't these reporters?

The following procedures are commands, but people often think they are reporters:

  • show
  • say
  • announce
  • output

Why are they commands and not reporters?

Order of inputs

Do if "clickon "true and if "true "clickon both work just as well?

Commands and Reporters, Tanks and Hoppers and Pipes

Before lunch, you should be finished with page2 of TanksHoppersAndPipes.mwx and page4 of CommandsAndReporters.mwx.

Bouncing and Path Following

We'll take a look at different ways to implement bouncing and following a path.

Invent with Python

Stephen found another cool resource for game ideas!

Monday, July 14

Last week of Bits and Blocks!

Yikes! We're already starting week 3! This morning we'll go over some ground rules to make sure we all have time to learn what we need to learn and build what we need to build before Expo on Friday.

Words and Lists

In the morning, we'll review the use of words and lists by connecting them to tank diagrams of individual procedures. Then we'll work on some code to make MicroWorlds act a little smarter.

Commands, Reporters, Tanks, Hoppers, and Pipes

Either right before or right after lunch, I'll introduce CommandsAndReporters.mwx and TanksHoppersAndPipes.mwx. Students will be expected to complete two pages of CommandsAndReporters.mwx and one page of TanksHoppersAndPipes.mwx each day between now and Thursday. Students are welcome to work ahead, but you must get each page checked by Gargi or me before going on to the next page.

What should I do?

If you can't figure out what to do during unstructured time, do one of the activities below. You can work on them by yourself or with a pair programming partner.

If you've already done them all, try the challenges at the end of the document.

Things that bounce

In the afternoon, we'll compare bouncing strategies from Friday's pair programming and the MicroWorlds sample. We'll also look at other bounce procedures that work more or less well in different situations.

Friday, July 11

Pair Programming—Atoms in a Jar

This morning we will prepare for our pair programming with a discussion.

We will also learn to use MDiagrammer (short for MicroWorlds Diagrammer) to create diagrams of MicroWorlds instructions.

After the discussion, we will break into pairs and program.

Here is a link to the Stopwatch turtle.

What's this?

Thursday, July 10


Today we'll work on projects. If you need help thinking up a game, you can ask a friend or try googling "arcade game" and see what you find. This morning we'll also do a survey to give you a chance to tell me about yourself and how things are going for you so far.

Wednesday, July 9


Is everybody clear on what you have for homework each day?

Pair programming activity

Today's pair programming activity is from Exploring Projects. We will do Exploration 2—Environmental Chaos

Remember the do's and don'ts of pair programming:


  • Talk
  • Listen
  • Rotate Roles
  • Be Patient
  • Respect
  • Take Breaks
  • Prepare
  • Clean
  • Have Fun


  • Be Bossy
  • Be Intimidated
  • Be Quiet
  • Suffer in Silence

To prepare for today's activity, we'll look at this document


Tuesday, July 8

Keep the door closed

I checked in next door about noise level and was told it's fine as long as we keep the door closed.

Observers tomorrow and Wednesday

Tomorrow our AC Ryan will observe. On Thursday, Kelly and Justin will observe.

What Steve Jobs Missed

Steve Jobs got his inspiration for the Lisa and then the Macintosh from a trip to Xerox Parc in Palo Alto. What did he discover there? What did he miss?

Pair Programming Partners for Tomorrow

I picked out pairs for tomorrow to make sure people are getting a chance to work with a variety of partners. Make sure you sit next to your partner when you come in tomorrow morning. Here are tomorrow's pairs:

  • Stephen and Brantley
  • Alexander and Daniel
  • James and Lefty
  • Ben and Katherine
  • Nicole and Damen
  • Zad and Lewis
  • Rishi and Ding
  • Obi and Nathan
  • Stefan and Alex

New Resource for Shapes

Obi found a really cool resource that lets you create your own Nintendo WII MII characters

Kinds of Procedures

So far, we've learned two different ways to categorize procedures.

  • Primitive procedures vs. procedures that you write yourself.
  • Commands vs. reporters

We've talked about how you can recognize primitive procedures as commands or reporters. We also saw how to recognize when a primitive command or reporter needs input, and what kind of input it needs. Now let's take a closer look at the procedures you write.

Learning Material for Today

If you prefer to study from text pages, or just want some extra study material, more or less the same material is covered on these pages:

You should start the quiz one o'clock at the latest, but you can take the quiz whenever you're ready.

Monday, July 7

Strengths and weaknesses

Today we will start a more in-depth discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of computers and humans that we need to keep in mind when programming.

Refactoring steer

There is code for steering the turtle with the arrow keys in the How Do I? document and in MicroWorlds Help (look up readchar in the MicroWorlds vocabulary). That code only works on a PC. This weekend I saw a refactored in a student project that is multi-platform—it works on both PCs and macs (Nice work!).

Today we're going to look at another way to refactor the original steer procedure from How Do I? You'll use the documents below. We'll work together pair programming style:

Friday, July 4

Happy 4th of July!


  • Fun with setshape and setrotate
  • add text to a turtle shape. This is handy if you want to:
    • Use a turtle as a button
    • Show what your characters are saying or thinking
    • Make instructions fade in and out
  • Using sprite sheets from the web
  • MW Help → Fundamentals → Overview → The Painting/Clipart Palette → Creating a Set of Personal Clipart

Thursday, July 3

Video Lessons

One of the ways I deliver lessons is through the videos on my web site. Sometimes I'll give you specific videos to watch, but there are also lots of optional videos. I put some of the tutorials into video form (One Page Presentation, Animated Scene, Turtles and Geometry!, Pong) because some students find it easier to follow videos. There are videos on Shapes, including video that shows you how to download sprite sheets from the internet to create animated characters like Mario or Sonic.


I heard that you guys don't have much time for homework on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I asked Ryan, our Academic Coordinator about expectations for those days. Here's the email he sent me:

Hi TJ,
Thanks for checking in on that.
There isn�t much time for homework outside of study session. They should probably get about 30 minutes in the study session to do homework and should expect 30 more to do outside of that.

A Short Conversation with MicroWorlds

Let's see how MicroWorlds feels about pizza.


Tomorrow is the 4th of July. If you want to see what we're working on, classroom activites will be posted here as always. If you have time, I'll provide information so you can try out the activities on your own, or you can work on your own personal project.

More Important Concepts

Today we're going to learn about procedures. By the end of the day, you should be able to define the following terms:

  • Instruction
  • Procedure
  • Command
  • Reporter
  • Input
  • Output

These definitions are discussed in the first two videos on the Definitions page. Use these videos to prepare for the quiz.

You should start the quiz right after lunch at the latest. You can retake the quiz as many times as you like. When you're ready to take the quiz, click here.

We'll probably have two quizzes again next week.

Public and Private Procedures

Some procedures are primitive procedures and some are procedures are written in the public Procedures Tab or the Procedures Tab in a turtle's backpack.

Why don't we just put all our procedures in the public procedures tab? Check out this video for an answer.

You can also download the project that goes with the video.

Wednesday, July 2


Many of you have come from classrooms where you're evaluated based on the level of your performance. In this program, the focus is on talent development. The way to think about how well you're doing in here is to ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you doing to improve your performance?
  • What are you doing to improve the performance of others?

Quiz today

Today we'll have a quiz on the material from Logo Programming Basics. Fill out the worksheet that goes with the video. You should begin right away and be prepared for a discussion at 10am followed by the quiz. You should submit your first attempt before you leave for lunch. You can resubmit as many times as you like. Resubmit as necessary until you score 100 percent.

When you're ready to begin, click here to take the quiz.

The rest of the day will be spent on projects of your own design. You make work on your own or with others.

What to do when you don't know what to do

Whenever you're not sure what to work on during class or for homework, some ideas are below.

Tuesday, July 1

Feedback from yesterday's Scavenger Hunt

I got some great feedback on yesterday's Scavenger Hunt activity. In general, people enjoyed the work. Here are some ideas I got for improving activities moving forward:

  • More interaction with others on the same team.
  • Follow-up on the activity to make sure it was understood.
  • Use the big screen for demos.
  • More specific and complicated directions.
  • Do something with music
  • Groups designing programs together.

As follow-up to the scavenger hunt, I prepared these videos:

I've tried address other suggestions in today's pair programming activity. If you made a suggestion that I missed, let me know.

Pair Programming

Today we're going to learn about a common programming practice called pair programming. Watch this video to learn what pair programming is all about:

Today's pair programming assignment is Music Turtle. To prepare for this assignment, make sure you are familiar with the parts of the MicroWorlds environment shown on the Getting Started page. At the top of the Procedures tab, include this information:

  • Project Name (Music Turtle)
  • Driver's Name
  • Navigator's Name
  • Date

As you saw in the video, two people will work side by side on the same computer. One of you will be the driver. The driver writes the code. The other partner, the navigator, observes the driver, looks for defects, and is responsible for keeping the long term strategy in mind.

The drivers should have MicroWorlds open, and the navigators should have the Music Turtle web page up on theirs.

Your instructor or TA will let you know when it's time to switch roles.

In today's reflections, I'll ask you to evaluate your programming partner by answering these questions:

  • What is your name?
  • What was your partner's name?
  • How would you rate your partner's performance (E, V, S, D, N)?
    • (E)xcellent: Consistently went above and beyond. Very cooperative and helpful.
    • (V)ery Good: Consistently did what they were supposed to do. Very cooperative.
    • (S)atisfactory: Usually did what they were supposed to do. Acceptably cooperative.
    • (D)eficient: Practically no participation
    • (N)o help: No participation at all.
  • Did you enjoy working with this partner?
  • Any other comments?

You can use the following rubric to check your work:

Phase 1

  1. Project name, driver's name, navigator's name and date at the top of the Procedures tab
  2. There is a turtle in the Main Window.
  3. The following OnClick instruction is in the Rules tab:

    fd 5 wait 1

  4. In the Rules tab, OnClick's Forever radio button is selected
  5. There is a Melody icon in the Main Window that is correctly labeled MiddleC (with no spaces) or C and plays the correct note.
  6. The turtle is correctly programmed to play MiddleC once each time it moves over a particular color.
  7. There are Melody icons for D, E, F, G, A, B, and C2 that play the correct note.
  8. A color is associated with each note. The turtle is programmed to play each of the notes once each time it moves over a particular color.
  9. There are a variety of colors in the Main Window.
  10. The turtle plays a tune when it passes over the different colors.

Phase 2

  1. All of the Melodies have been imported into the turtle's backpack.
  2. A color pattern has been copied from the Main Window to the turtle's Shapes tab.
  3. A note has been added to the turtle's Notes tab that describes what the turtle does.
  4. The turtle's name has been changed to something meaningful, e.g. Maestro
  5. The turtle has been exported to a .mwa file.
  6. The turtle has been successfully imported into another MicroWorlds project.


This afternoon, we'll do the pre-assessment to help you get the most out of this course.

that we didn't have time for yesterday.

Monday, June 30

Welcome to Bits and Blocks Level 1!


  • Bathroom
  • Food and drink. Water bottles are OK in the classroom. There is a small break area outside the classroom where you can have other drinks or snacks that you bring with you, but you must have an adult with you in the break area.
  • Lunch will be at 11:10 at Allison Hall. An RA will take you to and from the dining hall.
  • As soon as the class has been scheduled for ID Photos, I'll post an announcement on this page.
  • Headphones. If you have your own earphones or headphones, you are welcome to bring them. Otherwise, headphones will be provided to you.
  • Breaks. We'll figure out when we're going to take breaks today.
  • Making sure everyone can email their instructor. If you don't have an email account, I'll create a temporary one that you can use during the course.
  • Making sure everybody has MicroWorlds installed and has a chance to try it out. One place to start is the Getting Started page.


Take this survey


I'll use the answers to this assessment to help you get the most out of this course.


Anybody know any good name games?

Developing Talent

Since we're part of the Center for Talent Development, we need to discuss how to make this classroom a good place for developing talent.

Scavenger Hunt

An important programming skill is learning to read available documentation. Access the MicroWorlds Reference Guide through the MicroWorlds Help menu as shown below.

You will be assigned to groups of three. Each person in a group will be assigned one or two sections of the Fundamentals tab� Overview, Graphics and Background Images, or Turtles (Basic)/Turtles (More About Backpacks)

Hunt down the information for your section:


  • How do you get back to the Welcome Screen?
  • How do you add pages to a project? How do you remove pages?
  • How do you name pages?

Graphics and Background Images

  • How do you put clipart on a page? How do you stamp it in place?
  • What is Wallpaper, and how do you add it to your project?
  • How do you create your own art on a page with the paint tool?

Turtles (Basic), Turtles (More About Backpacks)

  • How do you add a turtle to your project?
  • How do you make the turtle move? How do you stop an restart it?
  • How do you open the turtle�s backpack? How do you get to the Rules tab in the turtle�s backpack?

In your group of three, help each other to do the following:

  • Add another page to your project.
  • On the first page, use the paint tool to add shapes of different colors.
  • On the second page, add a clipart background. Use Stamp Full Page to make it cover the whole page.
  • Create a transition between the two pages (Hint: Transitions are explained in the Overview/Pages section). Test it out.
  • On the first page, add a turtle. Add OnColor instructions to the turtle�s Rules Tab to make it react to a color on the page. Do the same thing on the second page. On which page does the turtle work better? Why?

More Logistics

  • Saving files locally and sharing files.
  • Accessing and sharing help resources.
  • Homework. You are expected to work on MicroWorlds for an hour and a half each evening. Here are some ideas for tonight:
    • Play around with MicroWorlds. Here are areas you can explore:
      • Tool bar
      • Main window
      • Tabs
      • Command Center
    • Look at videos
    • Tutorials
    • Techniques
    • Help
    • To get an idea of what a big, finished project looks like, you can look at the Samples


  • Who did you work with?
  • Was it a helpful activity?
  • What would have made it more helpful?
  • What would have made it more fun?
  • Send me any other comments you have about the activity or about your first day.

About the Center for Talent Development

Center for Talent Development (CTD), housed at Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy, is an accredited learning center and research facility that identifies, educates and supports gifted students and their families and serves as a leader in gifted education. Learn more about the Center for Talent Development.