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

24 hour Skypathon #pvSkype24

Today we were lucky to be part of the 24 hour Skypathon (#pvskype24), which is theFynn talking across the world masterpiece of Beverly Ladd (@BevLadd).

We sat with baited breath waiting for the call at our set time and spent the next 40 minutes sharing and questioning each other. The time difference was exactly 12 hours behind and it was magical to connect Nanjing China with Wilmington North Carolina.

We began with answering the host classes generated questions, which raised a lot of post Skype discussion. Then we moved onto on the spot student generated questions and the connections and comparisons grew. They sang to us and we taught them Chinese finger counting. Next my class were greeted by a Chinese American girl and the Chinese Finger Counting lesson - Number 8language switched to Chinese for a few minutes.

There were connections, new learning was made and thoughts and comparisons were pondered long into the day. I look forward to hearing the students comments on Monday morning once they have had the weekend to think them over. It was a great example of global learning and I take my hat off to Beverly Ladd for arranging and to the students of Pine Valley Elementary School for opening their classroom to the world for 24 hours!

Check out the hashtag on twitter to see the amazing connections.