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Coding for All: Hip-hop and Scratch in Libraries

With support from a National Science Foundation grant for an initiative called “Coding for All,” MIT’s LLK, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and the Digital Media and Learning (DML) Hub at UC Irvine have been working together to explore the creation of interest-based pathways into creative computing (such as hip-hop!).


In early November, the Coding for All team headed to Portland, Oregon, for the Young Adult Services Library Association (YALSA) 2015 Young Adult Services Symposium, where we ran a workshop titled “Hip-Hop Dance and Scratch: Facilitating Connected Learning in Libraries.” Over the past year, we’ve been working on understanding and supporting interest-based pathways into creative computing, such as providing opportunities for youth with an interest in hip-hop dance to explore Scratch, where they can choreograph dances. Not only can you create a dance scene, you can also see what others have made, and you can even upload pictures of yourself and create sprites that look just like you! Dance and accompanying music often use  sequences which can repeat, or follow one another in a logical order, making them ideal interests to explore within the context of Scratch.


At YALSA’s symposium, we worked with 50 librarians and educators to introduce them to Scratch and explore what a hip-hop and Scratch workshop could look like in their library.



We started off with an introduction to Scratch and some examples of how Scratch can be used with hip-hop dance. When the Scratch team was in Cleveland, for example, the Scratch team worked with Progressive Arts Alliance to bring a hip-hop dance and coding workshop to youth. After learning a few moves and the history of hip-hop from PopMaster Fabel, a renowned dancer and choreographer, youth took pictures of themselves, uploaded them as costumes for a sprite in Scratch, and choreographed dances in Scratch! This kind of workshop, where youth are introduced to both hip-hop dance and ways to incorporate dance into their online creative computing experiences, can be done anywhere.



Keeping in the spirit of Scratch, we had a one-hour block for our workshop participants to explore and tinker with their own Scratch and hip-hop projects. We also set up a photo booth so participants could take pictures of themselves in dance poses. You don’t have to be a good dancer to be a good dancer on Scratch - just take a few pictures of yourself doing different moves and play with moving those around online. There are also lots of sprites on Scratch with dance costumes, though,  - check those out!


Share & Reflect

Finally, participants shared some of their own projects, and we discussed some of the opportunities and challenges for implementing a workshop like this in their libraries and informal learning spaces. Everyone had a lot of fun, and we’re excited to see what kinds of workshops and Scratch-based activities will emerge!



If you’re interested in doing a workshop on Scratch and dance, check out some of these resources:


Do you have a story about interest-based learning or dance and Scratch to share? Please share your thoughts and experiences below. We’d love to hear from you!

Maria Beatrice Rapaccini
Hi Paulina!
I am volunteer in an italian library  makerspace  and we are working in finding the best opportunities to use Scratch in our library  with digital storytelling workshop, reading and animating books.
Wilhelmina Peragine
Hi Paulina,

This is such an inspiring story and toolkit!

Thank you for sharing!