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?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *