SCRATCH the Itch of Computer Programming – SCOPES Digital Fabrication

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Author

Brian Purvis
Brian Purvis
Other
Brian is the former Manager of Instruction for the GE Brilliant Career Lab. Previously he led the Gilbert Innovation Hub, where he leveraged his 18 years as a public school educator to open an integrated maker space at the heart… Read More

Summary

Students use a series of project challenges to create various types of computer games using the software language SCRATCH. While doing so they discover the scope of SCRATCH’s abilities, and learn a wide variety of skills they can later use to remix their own game programming ideas.

What You'll Need

Teacher Preparation

Supplies, facility needs, prerequisite skills and knowledge, classroom management for student types, period length etc.

 

Facility Needs

Class set of internet enabled computers (Chromebooks will work), Technology needs include a projector/TV with appropriate connection to a computer, ability to stream YouTube videos, and a high quality game or video from the Scratch gallery to use for the Engage activity on the first day (these will vary since more projects are posted every day. Currently Scratch is partnering with Cartoon Network so that many projects are themed with characters students may recognize. This could change over time.)

 

Materials List

Paper, pencils, and if internet bandwidth is a problem) a classroom set of printed Scratch Coding Cards, student emails for signing up for Scratch

The Instructions

Step 1

See below

Step One: Engage – ​An engagement that sets the table for the learning objectives and piques student interest in concepts, careers, and fabrication.

Needs​:

5-10 minutes

 

  • The instructor projects the sample high quality Scratch project or (for middle school students) a Scratch promo video from You Tube (Currently there are series of videos showing how Cartoon Network animation can be made with Scratch. This may change over time)
  • The instructor says “In the past, the career of computer programmer brought up visions of longs strands of typed code, but more then ever a career in coding has become more and more accessible. Over the coming days we are gong to empower you to use coding to make games, animation, projects, music, almost anything!”

 

Step 2

See below.

Step Two: Explore – ​Initial hands-on foray into concept.

Needs:

 

  • Internet enabled computers

 

50-60 minutes

 

 

  1. The instructor guides the students in finding the Scratch website on their computers.
  2. The instructor asks students to click on the “explore” tab at the top of the screen.
  3. The instructor challenges students to try as many Scratch projects as possible in the next 20 minutes. For each project, students should jot down on a piece of paper the name of the project, its category (game, animation, etc.) and a rating (1 being worst, 5 being best). Students should be asked to try out at least one project in each category.
  4. During the 20 minutes the teacher should help students keep track of time. They will have fun. Time will fly. They need to keep pace and not get stuck playing just one great game.
  5. When the 20 minutes is up, the instructor should go category by category asking students for the best rated projects in the gallery. The instructor should list these in a place all students can see.
  6. The instructor asks students to find one of the high rated projects that they have not played yet, and try it out for the next 10 minutes.
  7. The instructor now guides student through signing up for their own Scratch account by clicking on the “Join Scratch” button and following the instructions. (Students will need an email address)

 

Step 3

See below.

Step Three: Explain – (Connect content with explore and elaborate.)

 

Needs:

 

  • Internet enabled computers with access to Scratch
  • In the case of limited bandwidth, the instructor my alternately use the Scratch Coding Cards in the place of the tutorials. These cards teach most of the same skills, and adequately prepare the students for subsequent challenges. These cards can be printed for each student, student groups or shared amongst students on a rotating basis.

 

30-45 minutes

  

  1. Having signed up for an account, students are asked by their instructor to first click on the “create” tab (which will take them to the main screen for programming in Scratch) and then click on the “tutorial” tab at the top of screen.
  2. The instructor asks students to click on “Getting Started”, watch the video and follow the instructions.
  3. After completing the “Getting Started” tutorial, the instructor asks students to complete each of the other activities in the first row of tutorials. (Imagine a Word, Code a Cartoon, and Create Animations that Talk)
  4. Some students may finish early. The instructor should encourage these students to continue to the next step of this lesson (Elaborate) and complete 5 more tutorials of their choice with an eye toward the larger challenge of making a hybrid project using the favorite techniques they have learned by the end of the lesson.

 

Step 4

See below

Step Four: Elaborate: ​(Take content knowledge and utilize it to complete a challenge in the design process)

 

Needs:

 

  • internet enabled computer with access to Scratch
  • access to either the online Scratch tutorials OR the Scratch Coding Cards 

 

45-60 minutes

 

  1. The instructor casts the vision of the students creating their own Scratch Project. In order to do this, students will first need to scan the topics of the online tutorials (or Scratch Coding Cards) and consider how they could combine the design of two or more topics to create a more complex product.
  2. The instructor asks the students to select five more tutorials that they think would be useful in creating their final project, and complete them.. The more tutorials they finish within the allotted time, the more flexibility and knowledge they will have when creating their own project. (And often the more efficiently they can work in the Evaluate step. That said, the tutorials are always there to support students in their own projects)
  3. Students should work at their own pace. If they finish early, they should proceed to the Evaluate step.

 

Step 5

See below.

Step Five: Evaluate: ​(Compare student capability to use the content to meet a goal.)

 

Depending on time, this step of the process is meant to be flexible enough to last from one to multiple hours depending on context and learning goals. If this is meant to be a basic lesson on programming with Scratch a capstone project at this step may only require the creation of a new project using just the concepts of two tutorials. If this lesson is being used as a primer for Scratch in preparation for more complex and autonomous projects later, the instructor may find it better to allow more time at this step so that students can combine additional elements from the tutorials in their capstone project. For mastery of Scratch, all tutorials should be completed.

 

When students leave comments for the projects of their classmates, they should follow a format that gives two positive observations that cite specific qualities. They should also leave a recommendation about another tutorial they would like to see integrated into the game to expand it in some way. No negative or non project related comments should be allowed. Giving praise and ideas for improvement is an important but delicate skill that should not be overlooked or under-supported by the instructor.

 

.(Instructors may want to develop a rubric for scoring this that fits their class needs).

 

Needs​:

 

  • internet enabled computer

 

60-120 minutes (see note above)

 

  1. Having completed at least 9 total Scratch tutorials (or Scratch Coding Cards) from he previous steps, the students are now challenged by the instructor to create a capstone project that combines the concepts of two or more tutorials. (Example: The background and sprite skills of the tutorial “Imagine a World” with the flying game skills of the “Make it Fly” tutorial. In the end this product would produce an original background and an original sprite that flies through that background) As a rule of thumb, add 30 minutes for each additional tutorial students will integrate into their final project.
  2. Upon completion of their project, the students will click on the “share” button to publish their project on Scratch. Students should be careful to name the project, provide instructions for use, and give themselves credit so that their project can be viewed by the instructor and other students.
  3. Upon finishing, students should search for the projects of other students in the class, try out their projects, and leave comments. (see note above about the comment making process)

 

Standards

  • (Fab-Programming.1): I understand the basic structure of a simple program and can modify values, variables, or other parameters to alter its output, function, or behavior.

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