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Introducing STEM into curriculum

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5 replies [Last post]
Pam Pound


"Hi, I'm working with the Illinois governor's Economic Recovery Commission.  My task is to develop recommendations for improving the quality of education, particulary STEM education, for our students.  I'm looking for suggestions on how to address potential challenges in introducing SCRATCH -- limited access to PC's, teachers who may be uncomfortable with new technology, and/or administrators may not immediately appreciate the benefit of the resource.   If you've encountered (and overcome) any of these would love to hear from you.  Thanks Pam
Daniel Green

  I'll kick in joyous kudos on Scratch being wonderfully self contained and runnable on a flash drive.  Our computer club classes have used Scratch, Alice, Greenfoot, Dr. Java, Phun, NVU and other tools.  Some of our computer club arrangements are with the computer lab personnel as allies where we can get permission to install software on the computer hard drives.  But some of them have to be run off of flash drives as the only option for use of the machines as some school IT groups' answer for any request is "no we will not do that" - it's wonderful to be able to run scratch off of a flash drive if needed without any hooks to the windows registry or any other OS or security issue that would prevent a lab or a workshop from being run in IT-unfriendly territory.  Best regards, -- DanG


Karen Randall

One technical problem that gives me headaches is updated versions of software.  Our school has classroom machines, two labs, media center mini lab, and a cart of laptops.  I am not the tech person and don't have permissions to add software to anything but the laptops.  I think we've got it under control now, but for a couple years, I couldn't count on any given machine having the current version of Scratch installed.  [No, not quite under control.  Last week a teacher came to me unable to shut down her laptop because she couldn't figure out how to quit Scratch.  She had the old version with the Squeak menu bar.]

The perennial scheduling issue, not enough minutes in the day for everything you'd like to do, is particularly true as the reading/math testing pressures mount. The windows for Scratch integration possibilities narrowed this year when our district moved to a uniform reading block curriculum and structure. We also added a "response to intervention" half hour for skills work, that came out of time previously given to STEM and social studies work. Everything is important, but unless we fund a longer school day, what gets measured publically will be given priority.

 Karen R

Carl Bogardus

Ahh, I had forgotten about running Scratch on flash drives, I have the rights to install in my lab as I choose. Great discussions here, teachers need to move from the "Sage on the Stage" and become co-learners with the students. Problem solving with students is a great way to learn Scratch.

Christopher Shively

Hi Pam,

I just conducted a qualitative study that showed that students can learn Scratch - 28 different types of tasks on their own. These students were 3rd grade students from a blended (special education and general education background). The kids learned from each other by doing - see Papert and Constructionism. -

I have been working with teachers for over 15 years and for 15 years - we have had the same problems - convincing teachers to teach with or about technology.  So perhaps we should let kids learn and bypass the teachers.

I am working with two teachers right now who use learning centers and one of the centers enables students to learn Scratch on their own or with peers. My study stemmed from the Hole-in-the-Wall studies where kids in the slums and countrysides of India learned computer literacy skills on their own.

My paper  - - if you feel like reading my qualitative findings.

The Hole-in-the-Wall studies:

Kids can learn Scratch without teachers - so let the reluctant teachers  continue to be reluctant and get this great software into the hands of kids!

P.S.  I run all my Scratch workshops and sessions with Scratch on USB drives - skipping the now-reluctant - technicians from having to install Scratch on the hard drives.  Enabling Scratch to run on portable drives is a great idea - thanks MIT folks.

Karen Brennan

One of the challenges you mention -- teachers' comfort w/technology -- is a common theme that emerges in the Scratch professional development work I do.

Some teachers have expressed that they feel uncomfortable not knowing "everything" about Scratch and worry that their students might consequently have unsatisfying experiences. It's great when this worry dissipates, which often happens when we get to hands-on activities and when we discuss (and try) peer-learning strategies. I've had numerous teachers share their creative approaches to collaboration as a means of supporting student learning (and reducing expectations of teacher-as-expert!)