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Scratch: What is it and how can kids, students, learners and teachers learn from it!

Scratch: What is it and how can kids, students, learners and teachers learn from it!

Scratch Block Programming Language Platform.

Scratch is a free block-based programming language developed by MIT that is used by younger people to assist them acquire concepts of computer science, programming and other computer related fields without writing code.

With Scratch you can create a wide variety of interactive media projects which include animations, stories, games, art, music and others and share those projects with the online community. Scratch was launched in 2007 and since then thousands of individuals around the world have created and shared millions of projects that you can download and use.

Engaging in the creation of computational artifacts through Scratch prepares young people for more than careers in computer fields as it also helps them develop: problem solving or critical thinking skills, team work and collaboration skills, higher-order thinking, and interpersonal skills and expand the range of learning opportunities made available to students.

Just like the construction of a home, which requires building a good solid foundation, framing the rooms, and wiring the electrical system in a pre-determined sequence, a strong understanding and knowledge of Scratch and other related STEaM related fields in the early years increases the probability of future positive prospects.

Scratch Programming Language benefits

With the use of Scratch programming language learners will engage in activities that will encourage exploration of key computational thinking concepts such as sequence, loops, parallelism, events, conditionals, operators, data and also key computational thinking practices which include experimenting and iterating, testing and debugging, reusing and remixing, abstracting and modularizing.

Since Scratch was launched, young learners have been passionate advocates for creative computing in a variety of settings including introducing their parents and teachers to programming, to creating learning opportunities for their peers.

Scratch is being used in thousands of elementary, middle-school, and high-school classrooms around the world. The guide can be used in its entirety as a semester-long computing course, or selectively as part of other curricular areas, after-school or a lunch-time program.

Scratch can serve as an introduction to fundamental computational concepts and practices, often followed by a transition to more traditional text-based programming languages in computer science courses. In many universities Scratch has been used as an introductory programming experience before transitioning to the more advanced text programming languages. The activities within the Scratch environment are being used as part of education, art, and media literacy units in schools.

Scratch can also be used in informal learning spaces such as workshop or a drop-in play spaces that support explorations in creative computing, without some of the restrictions present in traditional settings.

Scratch Resource Requirements

  • Notepads, Tablets, Personal Computers or Laptops: for workings and designing.
  • Interactive Whiteboard (and Projector) with speakers: for workings, sharing works-in-progress and demonstrations
  • Touch Panel/Screen: for workings, sharing and demonstrations.
  • Design notebooks (physical or digital): for documenting, sketching, and brainstorming ideas and plans.
  • Network connection: for connecting to Scratch online (if no network connection available, a downloadable version of Scratch is available).

Setting Up a Scratch Environment

This involves setting up 2 distinct infrastructures: Technical (creating Scratch accounts, starting design journals…) and social infrastructure (establishing critique groups…).

  1. Create a Scratch Account. Scratch online accounts require an email address. If students cannot provide a personal or school email address, a teacher or parent/guardian email address may be used. Navigate to the Scratch website and click on “Join Scratch” to get started creating a Scratch account. After registering you can now update your Scratch profile page.
  2. Explore the Scratch online community and review the Scratch community guidelines.
  3. In a School setup one can make it easier for members of the class to find and follow one another’s Scratch profiles, consider creating a class list of usernames and names.

Design a Journal

Design journal is a physical or digital notebook where students can brainstorm ideas and share personal reflections, similar to a personal journal or diary. Students will be updating their design journals throughout their Scratch programming adventures and anytime during the process of designing projects to capture ideas, inspiration, notes, sketches, questions, frustrations, triumphs, etc.

Look through sample design journals to get ideas for what type of design journals (paper or digital) will work best for your students. Sample design journal: Sample One, Sample Two, and Sample Three.

Scratch Studios

Scratch studios are one way to collect and organize Scratch projects online.
Go to the Scratch Surprise studio: http://scratch.mit.edu/studios/460431
Sign into your account. Click on “Add Projects” at the bottom of the page to show your projects, favorite projects, and recently viewed projects. Use the arrows to find your Scratch Surprise project and then click “Add + ” to add your project to the studio.

Critique Groups

The idea for a critique group is to have small groups of designers who share ideas and projects-in-progress with one another in order to get feedback and suggestions for further development.
User can share their ideas, drafts, or prototypes. You can gather feedback by having their critique group members respond to the Red, Yellow, Green reflection prompts and also record other notes, feedback, and suggestions in their design journals.

You are encouraged to document and share your experiences with the Scratch community and with other educators via the ScratchEd community.