Battles in Kallisor

It’s not easy fighting monsters. And in this case, we’re talking about code bugs.

I’ve been working on a JavaScript coding curriculum for my seventh graders. Because of limited time with them, I really hit them hard with a lot of code concepts and just moved on. Most are picking up the basics, which has been great. Some excel because they’re more interested or they’ve done some JavaScript before, so while they’re working on some of my code samples, it allows me to help the ones who are struggling.

I’ve had a good time with it, even though it’s been a ton of work. I mentioned last time that I was working on a WinForms RPG based on Dariak’s childhood, complete with quests and so forth. That was all being done in C# and making use of the easy-to-use UI of Windows Forms. It’s a lot of drag-and-drop formatting and that makes the visual setup so much easier than making a nice-looking HTML page.

But we have Chrome Books at school so there’s no Windows. Worse than that, there’s no Visual Studio, which is an amazing IDE (think: word processor for coding). To work with my students, the coding all has to be done via the web. I found this awesome coding site, repl.it, which has IDEs for multiple languages. It really helps with setting up and testing code.

The problem with JavaScript is that it’s a behind-the-scenes language. It runs all the logic, but it doesn’t display things well at all. That requires HTML and CSS. Altogether, that’s three languages needed to present one thing. It’s a bit overwhelming. I’m only showing my students JavaScript for now because of time.

But I want to show them that it can also hook up to the web, so I made a miniature battle program that is similar to the one I was making in the larger game venture. There are no magic spells or special skills and the only item you have access to is a healing herb. I also need to work on the battle algorithm (a lot). But for what I want the students to see and play with for now, this is perfect.

If you want to check out the JavaScript only version, you can look at it here. And if you want to see the 2.0 HTML version, this is it. You do not need to log in to try it. You can X out the login screen. To run the code, find the triangular button in the left window pane. You can also drag the window divider to make a window bigger or smaller.

Please let me know if you try it and you find any bugs. I need to squash those, just as Dariak is squashing rodia!

Reinventing the Wheel

I can’t seem to help myself. Whenever I need something new, I tend to create it from scratch instead of looking around and using something that already exists. I’m always reinventing the wheel, even though there are so many great wheels already out there.

I do this with teaching all the time. If I need a new worksheet, I don’t search the internet for one. I create a new one. And I try to change it up and ask different questions from those I’ve used before and I try to mix up the format. Too often, when I’m searching for worksheets, I find it takes forever to narrow down the search to something I like and then it often asks for things that I don’t feel are relevant. In the time it takes to do all the searching, I can usually just make a new one.

I’ve done it with writing too. Some scenes or chapters need more work than simple tweaks and I find it’s better for me to hold on to the essence of what I want to say and start over, writing a new scene. Trying to rework a scene is much more tedious and makes it feel like I pulled all the limbs off a stuffed animal and sewed them back on in different places. It may make for a cuter teddy bear sometimes, but why not just grab some new fabric, thread, and stuffing and start it over fresh?

Right now, I’m engaged in a massive teaching project. For the first time ever, I’m trying to teach my kids coding. I’m not an expert on higher architecture, but I always loved programming the Commodore 64 and now that I’m married to a genius in the field, I’ve got the coding bug. I wrote a C# applet to calculate heat equations and even included an option to dream up random questions for students to solve. I also created an applet that will determine an atom’s ground state electron configuration, though I needed Kevin’s help with getting it to draw the Bohr models. He was also instrumental for helping me change them over from C# to JavaScript and HTML. 

I still want to create a Factor Label converter but I don’t understand the breadth-first search Kevin had showed me a few months ago and I haven’t taken the time to try to figure it out. Granted, that’s a way upper-level coding strategy, so I won’t need that for what I’m planning to teach, but I intend to spend some time this summer figuring it out.

But with all the experience I do have, I recreated a Disney Wii game, Guilty Party, in C# and got all the logic to work correctly in figuring out culprits and doling out clues, etc. I have also started crafting an old style RPG to tell Dariak’s teenage story. That’s been on hiatus because of wedding planning and getting ready for my teaching of coding.

And this gets me back to where I was headed in the first place. There are plenty of sites and tutorials and options out there for teaching coding. There are plenty of languages to choose from too. I had to narrow it down, and I’ve decided to go with JavaScript because of its link to HTML. I believe I can get the students to do some cool things with it.

But I need reference material. Yes, of course, I should teach them how to find the information online. And I will. But that’s after getting them started. That’s after showing them the basic concepts. And so I’ve been working on a slideshow for the past two months, editing and updating it as I read through it and adjusting the flow of which topics to cover when. 

I also want to have a basic note sheet they can keep nearby for reference. Something that reminds them of proper syntax for typing the code itself and for using various common statements and keywords. The majority of my searches have shown me great websites for upper level programmers and great resources if you know what you’re looking for. 

So I’m doing it again. The type of worksheet I’m looking for may be out there, but I haven’t found it yet, so it feels more worth my time just creating it myself.

Maybe I just like wheels?

Numbers

I love numbers. I see patterns in them everywhere. Like today is 4/4 and there are 4 more days to our wedding. Today was also my 41st workout session with David and I’m 41. On Thursday, my last session before the wedding will be number 42 and I will spend my entire 42nd year and beyond as a married man. Plus 42, as we all know, is the meaning of life. Today is also 38 days away from my birthday and that’s just four days less than becoming 42. Four days ago would have been 42 days away from my birthday and that would have been 8 days away from our wedding which is on the 8th day of the 4th month.

Ok, I’m getting carried away.

I’m so excited for this Saturday, to be standing with Kevin, to exchanging rings, to taking him as my husband. It’s going to be so much fun (and I will not bore you with the detail that the ceremony is at 4 for the 2 of us…)

Omg, ok, so on April 8 at 4, the 2 of us become 1. Powers of two! Binary code! This post has four paragraphs so I’ll stop now. 😜