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New here. Scratch in 2nd-5th

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Bruce Cichowlas



I'm new here.

I'm teaching Scratch in computer classes to my 2nd-3rd grade class (8 students) and my 4th-5th grade class.  I started teaching Scratch about two weeks ago and I have to say that Scratch is the most exciting thing that I've ever taught.  The enthusiasm is amazing and I can't believe some of the projects that they have posted in such a short time.

I don't have many specific requirements in curriculum from the school other than getting in some typing and newsletter writing somewhere, so I'm here to get whatever suggestions I can.

Although I've taught a fair amount of private music lessons and done a bit of corporate education classes in technology, this sort of classroom teaching is new to me this school year.  I teach computers to K-5 two days a week.  My full time gig is as a smart phone developer with Nokia, who I see is mentioned as having a connection to Lifelong Kindergarten.

Bruce Cichowlas

Bruce Cichowlas

 Approaches?  They are pretty "ad hoc".  I realize there is guidance in some of the Scratch material.  I was introduced to Scratch mostly at a Media Lab open house when I worked for France Telecom/Orange Labs.  I had tried a small amount of Scratch with my son Noah at home when he was seven.  It was sort of an alternate activity to bedtime reading.

But now, on sort of a volunteer basis, I am the computer teacher at Wayland Academy of Framingham ( ) and have also inherited care of the website, which needs help.  Since I work at several other jobs and have five older children as well, my time is really limited.  So each of the two days I teach in a week seems to come up suddenly.  I have three classes:  K-1 (10 students), 2-3 (8 students), 4-5 (6 students).  No one else at the school had heard of Scratch (except for one other student, it turned out), but they trust me a fair amount to create the computer curriculum as needed, so for 2010 I deceided to do Scratch perhaps about half the time with 2-3 and 4-5.  (K-1 seemed a bit young, but I figured they might later be an interesting audience for the other classes.)
Each class is only 30 minutes, so I did:
1st class) Talk in general about Scratch and get everyone signed in.  (That's still not quite done due to some absentees, but I am straightening it out myself as needed.)  Considering the anonymity and my need to be able to easily work interactively with everyone, I had everyone use their real first name and "Waof" (for Wayland Academy of Framingham) for their last name.  Thus, I am "Bruce Waof". We all have different first names fortunately.  We all are set up initially with the same password.  I let them change certain details if they were still nervous about security.  Some wanted to live in Africa, but I thought that was a bit much.
2nd class)  I used my overhead projector.  (Just using that in the lab creates a bit of mystique fortunately.)  For the 2-3 class, I did Scratch myself for the whole session.  It was fun.  I pointed out the cat and the eight groups of commands on the left.  I took requests.  "What should the cat do next?"  I did a lot in immediate mode.  Then I put things in a loop with the "forever" construct and soon the cat was bouncing off the walls and making noise.  We added a few more sprites.  I did some weird vocalization. We ended up with this (Hey):
With the 4-5 group, I did similar for the first 15 minutes and let them do their own stuff for the last 15 minutes because they were raring to go. In fact, some were trying to duplicate on their own computers what I was doing overhead though I had asked them to just watch. (Normally they are trying to play games or do other things, but this was very different.) At one point, I was showing the recording feature. This time, I asked them all to make a sound, but nothing that would upset the parents. Somewhere along the line, we had this (CrazyAnimals):
As you can see, they asked to play with images more. Then they were off doing their own things. A few finished a simple project that day and uploaded it.
It was a very exhilarating day for me, as have been all the sessions so far with Scratch. It felt like one of the sessions in "Glee", if you have watched that show. It went so well, you almost wondered if it was choreographed.
3rd class) I had the students explore Scratch or do projects as they chose. Here are some of the projects that resulted: (dragon torture kitty by Mahima Waof) ( aaaahhhhcocococococ!!!!!!! By Artemis Waof)
4th class) I've had a fourth class with 2-3, in which I showed these demo projects I had made:
I showed them how one could download someone else's project and do their own version by modifying this one from the 4-5 class using the 2-3 class's suggestions: (costume changer by Alex Waof, a student) (changing colors, my slightly modified version)
I also showed them this one, which I had found from the 4-5 class. (It's a bit like the Flash game hit "Red Ball 2". It has four levels, obstacles, etc. I really didn't know what to say.):
Then we did more independent exploration, but 4-5 was scheduled for a field trip. However, one of the 4-5 graders asked if he could meet with me at 9am to talk about Scratch before he went on the field trip. Unfortunately, that is right in the middle of my K-1 class.
And that's the story up to now.  Not too much detail, I hope.  I'd like to hear more of the experience of others in the classroom.
Where I teach is a pretty neat school to begin with, but it has still been a surprise to see how the students have taken to Scratch so far.
Karen Brennan

Hi Bruce -- and welcome!

It's wonderful to hear that the kids are so enthusiastic about creating with Scratch. Could you share a link to the projects they've been making? What approach(es) to introducing Scratch have you already been using?