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Event Scaffolding

For success many of the WebMaker learning events will require scaffolding. The idea being that scripts, guidelines, etc. are provided to the participants beforehand so they can be better prepared. Mozilla is already creating scaffolding, though different cohorts at different ages have different cognitive abilities and require different pedagogical approaches. Much of the background of educational scaffolding recognized the importance of preparation for the participants. And the preparation greatly assists the over all the learning. Searches on Vygotsky and "scaffolding" will provide much background on this subject. What I am creating here are some scaffolding I will be using with my kids and targeted for their specific age group.

kitchen tables


Through the summer of 2012 Mozilla is promoting kitchen table events. These are an outstanding way of getting people together and learning the craft of webmaking. I particularly like this approach for it is a non-technical solution to learning. It builds on the community of learners idea, and puts friends and family in a safe social space to learn something technical (which sometimes comes with frustration and fear). I will be working with my kids (and others who want to join us) to participate in these kitchen table events.

I am doing this for the following reasons;

  • I really want to encourage Mozilla with this approach (Among other things, I have been teaching tech skills to kids and adults for over 15 years, and the safe social space approach is the way to go!)
  • I've got three kids (5, 6 and 16) who I want to have 21st century literacy. So these kitchen tables will add to my toolkit.
  • There beta testing of kitchen tables approach is a good idea, though I believe it needs more scaffolding. Particularly targeted at helping parents of younger kids. (the event how to's are really helpful)
  • I want to learn as much as I can about Mozilla's work in learning webmaking and with their open badges initiative, because I want to work with their learning group.

hackasaurus kitchen table (5-7 year olds)

The first event in this theme is the hackasaurus kitchen table (<-read this guide) event scheduled for the summer 2012. Over the next month they are running a beta of this event and have made a call out for testers. I have volunteered. My plan is to work with my two sons (Lucas and Kai, 6 and 5 years old) for half a day or more hacking the web... One thing I have learned in teaching kids and parents technology and hacking is you can't prepare enough. Parents often have fear and lack confidence in their tech skills and the kids just want to run free and build, build, build... managing this takes solid scaffolding. I am going to follow what has been provided on the Mozilla page and also use the following scaffolding and encourage other parents to use or alter this if they would like more detailed scaffolding.


In my mind there are three main phases to this event, each exists for pedagogical reasons;

  1. Preparation - setting up the space and preparing the participants
  2. The event - the actual kitchen table event needs to align with the preparation
  3. Deepen the learning - the brain retains more when people are reminded of things

preparation (few days before)

  1. I'm going to play with the hackasaurus toolset a couple of times, build some stuff, save some pages, understand how it all works.
  2. guess a few subjects my kids are going to want to explore, and mock up the event pretending to be my kids.
  3. maybe play with linking a picture from flickr, kinda think about what they may want to do.
  4. I'm going to talk to Lucas and Kai about what we are going to do a few days in advance. Show them what hackasaurus is, how it works and what we are going to do with it.
  5. ask them to think about what they would like to do... They are young, so I may need to seed this a bit. Maybe hack a polar bear site with some pictures of their teddy bears. Encourage them to think about things... get some excitement.
  6. Once you know some of their ideas, find some sites with clean simple HTML / CSS within their areas of interest.
  7. if you going to add a photo or drawing, make sure the kids have played with the camera, drawn a picture on the computer or scanned the image in.

preparation (event day)

  1. Feed the kids!
  2. Set up the kitchen table with all the technology (computers, camera, cabling, etc.).
  3. Make the space comfortable. Make sure it will allow for focus and concentration (lessen the distractions, I'm working with a 5 and 6 year old).

the event

  1. play with the kids around their ideas, search for sites ask them questions about what they are thinking. The technology learning will be deeper if they anchor it in a subject they are passionate.
  2. find a site that you want to hack using x-ray goggles. hack it... show your kids what you are doing. Connect the ideas together, really explain the change(s). Ask them questions about what you have just done.
  3. get them to choose or find a site... help them search for things of interest that falls within their previous thinking about an idea. Even encourage them toward sites you now have simple HTML from what you found in your preparation.
  4. make the changes to the site they choose. Add pictures, change words, alter CSS... all good.
  5. Publish the changes, if the source code is simple enough. have a really basic look at it, particularly what they changed.
  6. make sure you have recorded the URLs of the published sites
  7. Have fun, play around, hack, iterate!

deepen the learning

I know with my kids, jumping straight into evaluating the event and contributing to the after the event questions will have to wait.

  1. celebrate all the great stuff you did as a family with technology at the kitchen table.
  2. suggest that the family all get together in a couple of days and look at what we did.
  3. using the recorded URLs of your published sites, return to your work after a few days (with the kids). Hack again if you want.
  4. proceed to answer the suggested after the event questions, do this with the kids. make sure they are engaged in the whole process. being reflective on everything is a great learning practice!

popcorn kitchen table

This next event is similar to the hackasaurus event only using popcorn maker. Popcorn maker is an online video / film making "studio". The popcorn maker kitchen table has more technical complexity than the hackasaurus event, but I feel would fit very well for my daughter Ana Rose (16 years old). Ana Rose is an outstanding musician and composer for her age and she has been kicking around the idea of making a music video for a while... I figure this is an excellent way to get her started and help out.

Scaffolding coming soon...