Logo Programming or “Turtle”

When reflecting on some of my earliest interactions in an educational setting, the Logo program came to mind. I distinctly remember being brought as a whole class to the “computer lab” and being promised that we would be learning an “amazing new tool” to help us learn all about computers while having fun. Just being able to sit down at a computer keyboard was exciting at the time, and we all looked forward to this part of the day.  The “Turtle” was basically the cursor in this program, and using standard commands we were learning the basics of programming. We could draw geometric shapes! I remember reflecting that, “there must be more to this machine”, and wondering why we were resigned to play on “Logo” every time we went to the computer lab. Now as I reflect, I realize that the educators were also still learning how to use this “computer” in education as well, and they taught us how to use this program because it came with a guide and they could understand it. (Well, it wasn’t that complicated). Overall, now this has me reflecting about whether or not we as current educators are providing enough rich and meaningful experiences with the technology that most students have at their fingertips.

6 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing, Michelle!

    I really liked your reflective piece about whether current educations are providing authentic learning experiences with technology. I think about this quite a bit and how students definitely need to be taught topics in technology beyond how to use them. There is a great resource called Common Sense Media that guides educators on ways students can be empowered in technology-related vulnerabilities (e.g. cyberbullying, digital footprint, digital identity, etc.).

  2. I certainly miss the days of the computer lab block. I think that we are really missing a link somewhere in our practice around technology. In “the good old days” We used to learn about how to create and manage files, navigate the internet, etc. and it was all taught by the schools computer technologist. I’m not sure if he was a teacher or support staff… Now, there seems to be an expectation that students will just “know how to use technological tools effectively and that these skills will be embedded through out their course work without any clear expectations.

    I’m all for bringing back the “computers” block with direct instruction in the use of key programs and methods.

    – Dan

  3. If I think back to the beginning of my MET journey I sort of chuckle at what I expected. Needless to say never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be teaching grade 5 and 6’s coding. The mystery of coding has been so debunked given the block coding programs available to us. Hour of code, code.org and scratch are places to start, even for the total beginner (both teacher and student).
    I have spent most of my career afraid of technology and computers, now I see all I have been missing. I hope in the remaining years of my career will allow me to spread that message to other teachers.
    Catherine

  4. Michelle,

    Thank you for bringing back good memories of Turtle! I had used Logo only a handful of times but I still remember instructing it to move around the screen. The great thing is that we’re currently in an era where similar technologies are available to help students become familiar with complex programming. Things like Scratch coding are excellent examples of how technology can be used to soften the learning curve and students are creating amazing works from it.

    Interestingly, your comment on whether educators are providing meaningful learning experiences really got me thinking. Should we as educators be putting the onus on ourselves to be the primary reason for such experiences? Aren’t experiences created by the students? Reading the other e-graphy posts, many of our positive experiences and memories about technology came primarily from our freedom to explore with it. Is a carefully prepared lesson that students get nothing out of considered a failure? Is there some factor within student thinking that we can focus on to ensure that the learning opportunities we provide are met with equally positive learning experiences?

  5. I too mentioned Turtle as my earliest memory. At that time in my life (grade 5), computers seemed like such a wondrous thing and I couldn’t wait to go to the computer lab at my elementary school and maneuver that little turtle around the screen.

  6. Thank you Michelle for the screenshot and taking us down memory lane. I used to teach Logo as a computer teacher and remember the turtle! The children had very simple commands to learn (eg. 10 goto 20), and there were no other staff who knew how to use Logo nor a curriculum to follow. Seymour Papert’s book on Mindstorms and his work on constructionism is a worthwhile read for those interested; he past away last summer, Samia

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