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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The ISTE Presentation Almost Everyone Missed - And Shouldn't Have

The ISTE 17 presentation that I was looking forward to more than any other was Dr. Gary Stager's 50th Anniversary of Logo. I got there early because I genuinely thought the ballroom would be packed. Instead, there were maybe three dozen of us in the room. That's a shame because ISTE attendees missed out on a fantastic tour through the history, development, and role of Logo and programming in general in schools.

For those that don't know, Logo is the basis of some of the most popular programming tools in school today. Scratch, Snap, MIT App Inventor, and many other tools are all rooted in Logo.

Logo Writer was my introduction to computers when I was an elementary school student. As I've said in many presentations over the years, getting to use Logo Writer was the first time that I wanted to stay after school and come in early for academic reasons. I spent a lot of hours in sixth grade programming various animations. Here's a screencast of someone using Logo Writer. (Public domain video from Archive.org).



Turtle Art is software that you can get today for free to do many of the same things that I was doing in Logo Writer. A helpful tip about Turtle Art that I learned from Gary was that you can drag a completed Turtle Art project from the gallery of examples into the software on your desktop and have the program revealed. The challenge to then give to your students is to change the program to create a new design. Gary gave the example of turning stalactites into stalagmites. Go to Turtle Art, get the software and try it for yourself. It's a fun challenge.

Visit Gary Stager's 50th Anniversary Logo Resources page to learn more about Logo, Turtle Art, and the development of programming in schools.