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CSEdWeek 2010 | Day 5: A Recipe for Teaching from Scratch

For Day 5 of CSEd Week, we are sharing a story from Scratch educator, Claire Caine.

I recently interviewed Claire Caine, IT Administrator at the Jewish Community Day School (JCDS) in Watertown, MA about her work with Scratch. In order to facilitate her reflection about her work, I asked her to bring in an artifact from her childhood that reminded her of when she was a student.

I was pleasantly surprised when she showed me her artifacts: a cookbook and sewing book. As it turns out Claire is also the cooking teacher for the school. She said, “It’s kind of like introduction to programming through cooking.”

In this video, she connects her love of cooking and sewing to her passion for programming. I also observed her class of fourth graders, who were using PicoBoards to create Hanukkah-related projects.

When I asked Claire how her school experience relates to her current work with students, she said,“I cannot think of a single similarity between the teaching at JCDS and the teaching in my elementary school. I grew up in the era when no one cared about individual student learning styles. If you were able to sit quietly at a desk all day, you did well. I was very good at sitting quietly. At JCDS, students are taught to think for themselves. That was not an option when I was growing up. Scratch is a great tool for giving students this skill. They can see very clearly what they put into the program. If something is not working, they can easily break it down and try out the parts separately. The kids really only need a gentle push in the right direction when they get stuck, but otherwise, they can figure things out for themselves with Scratch.”

Charlie Freund

"Programming is different learning for kids: it doesn't work, it doesn't work, it doesn't work, and then finally it works."

So true! That's a great nugget for me to take into my instruction. Also, to preface this to the students would be very helpful because I see so much frustration when things "don't work".

I run Scratch at our summer camps for kids. There is a definite disparity of students that are shut down by the natural road blocks of programming and those who gain from each road block.