I am not good at keeping up on blogs, but I have come to appreciate what I have found in this community, so I am hoping that I can give back a little. First, I would like to share a program that I found that has proven very successful with my intermediate and middle school kids. Game Maker 7 (a link will be set below this post), is a programmer's program. It allows kids to create sprite-based games (think gameboy), using a rather easy drag and drop programming code. While I must admit, a teacher must be fairly well versed in how the game works, and what the programming language can do. If you can do that, the results are fabulous. I was able to recreate some simple games with the kids and then allowed them to try something on their own. The best part is that Game Maker 7 allows you to create stand-alone files that can play the created games all by themselves, and not have to have the Game Maker 7 software installed (so that they can take them home).
Even better, Game Maker 7 comes in three forms. First, is the free version. Available from their website, the free version behaves just like the pro version, but about 25% of the programming options are not allowed (which is not too bad, as they are mostly advanced functions). In the pro version ($20), the entire program is opened up. There is an educational version, which allows the entire program to open up as well, but only costs $10, when at least 10 seats are purchased (a marker appears in the programming part of the software identifying it as an educational version). If you have the time this summer, I highly reccomend familiarizing yourself with this product, as it is a GREAT was to introduce simple programming to young learners.
Game Maker 7 link: http://www.yoyogames.com/