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Teacher-to-Teacher: Keeping the Magic Alive

Dear #CSEdWeek community,

The celebration of computer science week for many children is the lighting of a fire; the introduction of what is possible with an idea and access to technology. Every December, I look forward to spending time in classrooms participating in Hour of Code and using tools like Scratch.

I fondly remember a conversation I had a few years ago with one young boy, who was probably about 9 years old. After a brief introduction to Scratch and time to explore the program’s capabilities, he looked at me with a sense of wonderment and said, “Wait, are you telling me that I can draw my own picture and program it to do things?” I never tire of that feeling of excitement. It is magical. Creative computing, for me, encompasses all that learning should be: the opportunity to create something you are passionate about, play with an idea using a variety of tools, and share your work with others.

From the very young to the not so young, the freedom to explore, create, and share is foundational to lifelong learning. For some children, these creative experiences with technology are routine in the classroom, but for many more it is simply an annual event. In January, after Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code have passed for another year, how do we keep this magic alive in classrooms and nurture the culture of creative computing in and among our schools?

I spend a lot of time thinking about that question. In my quest to support teachers in creative computing all year long, I became hooked on the notion of starting a ScratchEd Meetup in Lexington, Kentucky. ScratchEd Meetups are a fabulous way for teachers and community partners to share ideas, to work on a project, or to discuss questions raised around creative computing.


These meetups also provide teachers with the opportunity to work through the creative process and take that experience back to the classroom. Recently, a teacher brought an idea to our ScratchEd Meetup. He wanted to create a flag and country matching game using Scratch and a Makey Makey. His idea became a project. During the meetup, a small group played with different materials, experimented with programming blocks, and gave him feedback on the game. The teacher reflected on the ideas shared by the group and brought the project to life with his students.This past week, at our district Hour of Code kick off, the teacher and his students shared the finished game.

Perhaps nurturing the culture of creative computing includes keeping the magic alive for our teachers—providing opportunities to have those Kindergarten moments of exploration, time to share with peers, and the freedom to see where an idea might take them.

How will you keep the magic of creative computing alive all year long?

Leanna Prater

Leanna Prater is a as a District Technology Resource Teacher for Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, KY, as well as an adjunct professor at Georgetown College, teaching courses in educational technology and coding for teachers. She also co-organizes and facilitates Lexington ScratchEd Meetups.

In celebration of #TeacherLearning this #CSEdWeek, ScratchEd shared a letter from a teacher to the #CSEdWeek educator community each day, on the theme of “Creative Computing: What? Why? How?”

You can still join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, using #TeacherLearning!