Really getting into Coding with Scratch

It has been too long since I have written here (there are dozens of unfinished posts over the past 3 years, but few published). I am now in Vietnam and teaching ICT, rather than a classroom teacher, and it has been a whirlwind of difference. It is a much bigger school, but as I teach most of the students I get to know them all and it allows me to be the kind of teacher that I normally am.

Big change as been, other than having access to Google again, the amount of coding that I teach using Scratch and it can be upwards of 15 hours a week. I feel that I now dream in Blockly and ‘if then’ or ‘forever’ loops. It is like being immersed in a language and it has increased my knowledge beyond all belief.

Year 1 throughscratch-music 3 are using the offline editor and are learning to make instruments play a tune or making balls bounce around the screen and play a recorded sound when they collide. Year 4-6 are making playable video games and now beginning to realise that they are able to create games in their own time (such as the final scratchgame).

Scratch has recently introduced Educator Accounts, for which you need to apply and get approval (a day to wait), but this now allows you to manage multiple online classes, reset their forgotten passwords, add or remove students and sign them up without the need for email addresses to login – such a time s
aver and it may help me keep my hair a few more years.

There are scores of resources out there, any question that you have is answered by a forum post or YouTube tutorial and once you give it a go your students will love it. I know that when they get to Secondary they will be problem solvers, better at logic and reasoning and have a good understanding about how code is laid out and how to change variables and create loops and conditionals.

My first successful game (Even though it has a glitch or too)

//scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/140541688/?autostart=false

This game was created by a student as part of his International Week homework to teach visiting year 2 and 3 students about Ecuador in a fun way.

//scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/136647435/?autostart=false

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KS2 Robotics Club – Surprisingly Successful

It is funny what a bit of success, a few years practice and some more resources can do to the way an after school club is run. I have talked about this previously, but this year is different as my robotics group is much younger (KS3 – Year 3,4&5 or Grade 2,3&4). The groups is right on the cusp of being too big for one teacher at 16 students, but I think that I have carefully managed and planned the sessions so that it will run a lot smoother than when I had teenagers last term.

The big difference is that I have carefully purchased resources from my budgets to build upon what we have and to provide different levels of differentiation and challenge for each student.
Very Beginner – Bee Bots
These are a great resource to introduce programming, quite cheap and can still be used with older kids to get the idea of simple programs.
Novice – Lego Simple Machines Kits So simple, but the best way to show kids how gears work together to make movement happen and gets them following a set of what can be difficult instructions.
Intermediate – WeDoBuild it and then program it. It comes with a motor, movement/light sensor and a tilf sensor and simple Scratch like software to program your creation.
Advanced – Mindstorms You only need to look at various youtube videos to see what can be done with a Mindstorms kit and if you throw a few kits together you have amazing possibilities.

Next problem comes when every group has a project completed and wants a computer to use to program the robot… solution? I have no idea just yet!