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Turn 180 degrees -- for the rest of his life!

I teach in a NYC middle school. Basically, I’m a prep teacher and that means students are assigned computers. They don’t get to select it. Obviously, enthusiasm for my classes varies widely.

Last year, my 8th graders didn’t get excited when they were introduced to Garage Band (they preferred listening to their iPods illegally), they didn’t get fired up in iPhoto (they preferred to go to Photobucket), and they didn’t want to write (they preferred using AIM when I wasn’t looking.) So, I tried Scratch.

I told them they only had to do one simple project …. animate, change color and add a sound to each letter of their name. And I crossed my fingers.

The whole class kind of started their work in Scratch … little excitement, lots of questions because they were too lazy to figure out what to do.

I had one student in that class who could not stay out of trouble. He had been suspended several times … yet was the “cool” guy … he was cute, the girls adored him (that bad guy thing), and most of the class looked for his approval. He had not been successful in anything he’d done in middle school and the future looked bleak for him. When he was in my lab, he’d only do what he wanted to do -- surf the Internet to look at sneakers.

So, I was surprised when he actually started working in Scratch. He finished his project and tried out other projects as well. He really got into it. And because he was such a social force in the class, the whole class got involved in their projects.

I don’t know what this guy’s future will be, but I do know that this was one of those magic moments in teaching …  he opened a new door in his life and found a way to turn his whole life around. Here's hoping he turns 180 degrees for the rest of his life! Thanks Scratch!


Hi Judy,

What a nice story!  I laughed when you mentioned this student enjoys looking at sneakers on the Internet.  I found it really odd that my guy students would spend so much time doing that -- how interesting to see the same thing in New York clssrooms.

I hope I even come close to such successes with my students.