After-School Scratch

March 24, 2009 at 6:00 am | Posted in Animation, games, Games-based learning, Programming, Scratch | Leave a comment
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scratchI am using Scratch for my second semester elementary After-School Activity. Scratch is a free, simple programming software that allows children and other programming beginners to easily create original digital animations and games. My group consists of 13 boys and girls, ages 7-10 and we meet twice a week for an hour. The “motto” for Scratch is: Imagine, Program, Share.  Now in our 7th week, I am taking time to reflect on how the group and individual student skills and creativity have grown to move the group forward a bit and to plan for a celebration of the upcoming Scratch Day on May 16th.

Beginning in early Feb, I introduced Scratch with the videos and sample animations and games on the site and modeled the absolute basics as well as provided the Scratch cards. Folders were set up on the school server where students can save projects to individual folders in a group folder. Then I stepped back. At first, the students who wanted guidance would ask me for help and I would ask guiding questions to help him/her explore and discover how to accomplish what they wanted. We also used the cards for guidance and would put out a question to the group, although when asking the group would preface the question with, “if you’re not in the middle of something, can you show us how to…?” It wasn’t long before they discovered individual’s strengths and knowledge and who to ask for help.

Individuals now fall into one of three groups that have evolved: the game creators, the animation creators, the game players. The game designers are the most in-depth users and have the longest attention span and take pride in what they do. These students are the most willing to share and are frequently asked for help by others. The animators generally create an environment where a series of simple actions take place and they create one or two per after-school session. The game players want to search the online gallery and play the games and animations- they are less interested in creating their own and dabble in creating game actions.

To move all of us forward, I am currently reading in the Scratch Educators site and CR2.0’s Scratch pages for inspiration. The game designers don’t need my help, they challenge themselves and work on their creations at home as well. To move the animators ahead, they might create a story or environment that would provide a foundation and focus. For the game players, opening up their individual folders to view game segments may help them find a single game from the various actions. Working with a partner may help this type of programmer move towards completion of a game as well.

Scratch Day provides us with a purpose to reflect and work on a showcase project. These projects will also be presented at our school ASA assembly at the end of May. Imagine, Program, Share.


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