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

Toy Hack – Sharing Understanding through Toys

My initial use of Lego to reflect on my time with Kath.
My initial use of Lego to reflect on my time with Kath.

While still processing my time with Kath Murdoch over the last two days I have jumped on something that I found quite appealing to my geek side and surprise surprise it appealed to the boys and girls in my class.  Using an iPad, toys and a cartooning App to explain understanding.  The App was called Text Here (it really is called Text Here, that is not a cut and paste error), the toy was Lego and the understanding was our playground strategy called W.I.T.S (Walk Away, Ignore, Tell Someone, Say and I Statement).

One thing I did take into account is Guy Claxton’s Split Screen thinking model, which is something that I have taken away from my time with Kath Murdoch. In the Split Screen class the the process is equally as important as the content and skill.  The content being explaining WITS in a Visual way, skills were time management and co-operative and the process revolved around collaboration with their partner, synthesizing their ideas into a very text limited form and then taking a risk when sharing with the rest of the class. Each of these skills and processes were given as much scaffolding and exploration as was the process of using the tool which was the iPad App.

Then I showed them my reflection from Kath’s first day, set up a corner and in pairs I let them free to play and create.

Stage set up in a cave with lamp to set the scene.
Stage set up in a cave with lamp to set the scene.
WITS - Say an I Statement
WITS – Say an I Statement
WITS - TEll a Teacher.
WITS – TEll a Teacher.

Big thank you to Bart Miller for the Toy Hack title – loving the Hack mentality of turning an items use to a very different purpose.