First trimester introduction to programming was amazing! My class was so interested in everything that I taught them. They wanted to learn what I wanted to teach them – and then some. I decided to use Scratch to begin things (for about 2 months). The student had no prior programming experience at all. Most of my students were sophomores. My aim was: student discovery, story telling, and gaming. I started them with an about me/scrapbooking assignment. Students were supposed to tell me 3 things about themselves. All I showed them about Scratch before leaving them to “play” was how to move the Scratch cat across the screen (explained what the control structure and “when green flag” block meant). From there, I told them to play, create, and have fun! I always walk around the room while students work, so I answered questions when they came up. But I didn’t do a lot of talking in the first week and a half. When students were done, I had them fill out a survey. The main questions were: 1. what the student was most proud of in their project, 2. what cool thing they learned, and 3. what they would have done had they had more time. After this, we shared these projects. Which gave the class an opportunity to learn about one another. And gave them a chance to share the cool thing they learned with the rest of the class. So this was the start of there “formal” lessons.
After this, I did about 2 weeks worth of tutorial type worksheets – and some small projects scattered in between to reinforce these skills. I used the Scratch Curriculum Guide for ideas and used some of the handouts included there. (Thanks so much to the Scratch team for putting this together! My only recommendation would be to revise the “scrolling” lesson… I think it can be explained and coded in a much simpler, more intuitive way. Otherwise, great stuff!)
The last 3 weeks was spent on a project. Any project of their choosing. They were to try to incorporate as many of the cool things we had compiled over the course of the trimester. They worked in pairs and the theme was gaming and storytelling. I had them sketch up a proposal before they began and they met with me to get that approved.
Here are links to some of the projects (one group made a project that was too large to upload and another group is still finishing up):
The class had a truly awesome time! My class met right before lunch and I literally had to kick them out of the room everyday. This says a lot – seeing as how I had a room full of VERY hungry teenage boys! They were so sad the trimester was over and some are trying to shuffle around their schedule so that they can get another trimester of programming in.
Next up: Programming with Alice…
I still remember you from the Scratch workshop where we were trying to figure out the pen feature together. Thanks so much for sharing this! It’s so great to hear more about your work with Scratch. Would you be interested in posting this as a story to ScratchEd (or if you’d like, we can post for you)? I think other Scratch educators would love to hear about your work!
Yes, that’s me! Thanks for remembering :) I’ll make sure to make a post on the ScratchEd site!
Thanks Stacey! Really appreciate it. Look forward to hearing more.
I loved reading about your experiences with Scratch! Thanks so much for the kind feedback about the curriculum guide. Any suggestions for improving the scrolling activity would be greatly appreciated — so please feel free to share them!
Thanks, Karen! The curriculum guide was really wonderful and full of really nice ideas to reach a wide-range of ages. And everything was really customizable – having the open-ended handouts at the end really gave me a chance to customize my lesson and still use handouts (which were organized so well) even if I didn’t follow the lesson completely!
Regarding scrolling, say the cat is walking across several scenes:
1. we make one variable (scrollX) and several sprites (scene0, scene1, scene2).
2. cat script: when right arrow key pressed –> change scrollX by -5; when left arrow key pressed –> change scrollX by 5 (if pressing left arrow, the background should be moving forward)
3. scene0 script: when green flag clicked –> forever (set x to scrollX + (480*0))
4. scene1 script: when green flag clicked –> forever (set x to scrollX + (480*1))
Hopefully I’m not missing anything – don’t have Scratch opened :) We take some time to discover this together… It’s easy to illustrate and for them to come up with independently when we talk through it together.