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Teacher-to-Teacher: The Expressive Potential of Coding

Dear #CSEdWeek friends,

Although Computer Science Education Week is primarily focused on student learning, I think it’s also a great time for us, as educators, to think about our own learning. CSEdWeek offers me an opportunity to pause and think about my work as a teacher, a researcher, and a designer — to consider what I care about most in my work and how I can stay focused on those commitments.

Quite simply, I’m most passionate about creating opportunities for all young learners to experience creative computing. Creative computing, for me, is all about understanding and exploring the expressive potential of coding — being able to use code to share your thoughts and feelings, to explore possibilities, and to solve problems, both individually and in collaboration with others.

Scratch is my favorite tool for supporting creative computing and I’m endlessly inspired by how kids talk about Scratch. So, in thinking about what I might do this CSEdWeek, I turned to one of my favorite definitions of Scratch.

“It’s a really great program that allows you to create your own games, animations, and be yourself and create your own media. And then, of course, there’s an online community in which you can meet new people, be inspired to create your own stuff, and just experiment, and have fun.” — Clark, 12 years old

These two themes — the power of creating and the power of connecting with others — are my inspiration this CSEdWeek. As such, I’ve decided to make two promises to myself in support of my own learning, following the themes of creating and connecting.

First promise: I’m going to make something that celebrates creative computing. Our team at Harvard is hard at work revising the Creative Computing guide, in preparation for Scratch 3.0’s release next year. But I’m really excited about some new resources that I’m developing with one of my doctoral students, Paulina Haduong, including a collection of design challenges for Scratchers with more experience. Developing these materials will be a great opportunity for me to make Scratch projects and practice my own computational creativity!

Second promise: I’m going to connect with others who care about creative computing. I’m so inspired by all of the teachers who are bringing creative computing to life in the classroom each day, and connecting with them is one of the best parts of my work. This CSEdWeek, I’m looking forward to connecting with people, both in person and online, who also love creative computing. During CSEdWeek last year, our group launched the ScratchEd Meetups Network, a collection of face-to-face participatory learning experiences for teachers. In the past year, the Meetups Network has grown to 24 groups around the world, with more than 1,500 members, and I’m excited to attend meetups and help others get a ScratchEd Meetup started. This year, our group is launching the “Teaching with Scratch” Facebook discussion group, a new place to share ideas and ask questions about supporting creative computing in the classroom with Scratch.

What are your #CSEdWeek creative computing promises?

Happy #CSEdWeek!


Karen Brennan
Associate Professor of Education, Harvard University

In celebration of #TeacherLearning this #CSEdWeek, ScratchEd shared a letter from a teacher to the #CSEdWeek educator community each day, on the theme of “Creative Computing: What? Why? How?”
You can still join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, using #TeacherLearning!