Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Programming in Scratch

Teachers trying to help out students crowded around
too few working computers
We introduced the students to programming using Scratch in two 90-minute sessions.  With 42 machines in the computing lab and pairing students up, we thought we could teach these sessions to all students at once.  But we quickly revised that plan after the first Scratch session--too few of the machines could actually run Scratch 2.0 and the mice on a handful of the machines were essentially non-functional.  Also, the space was too cramped for teachers to reach all of the pairs that needed help or for individuals within the pairs to change roles.  Poor lighting in the Computer Lab made it difficult for students to read printouts with instructions.

Major squeezes in to offer some help

Given the logistical problems in that first session, Origene did a remarkable job demonstrating how they could program the Scratch cat to do a little dance (substituting "say" blocks for sound since the machines had no speakers) while changing its color, and add an animated sprite (Cassy) and a back drop. (To start the example of what students created below, press the green flag. While its running, press the space key to see the cat change its color.  It will terminate by itself after a while, or you can stop it by pressing the stop button)


For the second Scratch lesson, we revised the camp schedule to rotate students through three activities throughout the day. That gave us 20 students at a time. All could work on a machine running Scratch 2.0 and with a working mouse (important for using Scratch), and teachers could easily get to pairs to answer questions. There was ample space for students to switch roles.

Aimee did a fantastic job engaging the students in creating the beginning of a 2-act show. All got through the first act and many got through the second.  (The example below is of our complete Scratch program.  Press the green flag to start it executing and then follow the announcer's instructions.  Press the stop button to end the program.  No students got this far.  But their teachers went home with instructions for both completing and extending this project.)

Those that have access to computers at their schools are eager to finish up their projects and add new acts.

Teachers were all given USB drives containing the Scratch 2.0 installer, lesson plans, project descriptions, and links to other resources to continue teaching Scratch when they return to their schools.

No comments:

Post a Comment