July 6th – A Week With Scratch

In all honesty – I’m traveling a lot this summer. I’m very fortunate to be going to ISTE (in Denver at the end of June… which I’ve done), CSTA which is July 10th – 13th and then some family vacations. With all that being said, I’m going to be putting out some “A Week With” as I won’t be able to stay current with everything going on. The (very) few people I’ve talked to that read the blog say the “A Week With” series are good as a deeper dive – so in that spirit we’re going to have “A Week With” Scratch, iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, MIT App Inventor and possibly SNAP – with a few Maker type products mixed in (as I learn things from CSTA and ISTE). Hope you stick with me over the next few weeks and looking forward to some deeper dives!

July 6th – A Week With Scratch

Scratch is a programming environment that uses block based programming to teach simple concepts. Born out of the MIT Media Lab and the Forever Kindergarten project, Scratch is a GREAT way to introduce students (of all ages) to programming and based on their age and experience they typically self evaluate whether or not they can move on.

I use Scratch as a base level. The “shared knowledge” of everyone in the group and something they can always refer back to.

Scratch has two different versions and has just partnered with Google to create a Scratch 3.0 which provides programmers even more control over the blocks (besides being able to create them in Scratch 2.0).

Scratch 1.4 is the latest version that you could download to your computer, then they jumped to 2.0 which is online with a community to share projects and easily remix them (which is the spirit of the program itself).

I’ve taught Scratch for years, even before the 2.0 online jump happened. I’ll be mixing a few different approaches I’ve used in the classroom that seem to have worked with the different populations I’ve taught this to – 2nd through 12th Grade.

The basic setup of the environment has three main spaces. I’m a little bit of a theater geek at heart and recently someone had a new way of talking about each of the locations that I enjoyed and now use.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 12.24.12 PM.png

The large white area with the Cat (in the default screen) is the “stage”.  Below the “stage” is the area in which you see your Sprites or “characters”.  Finally the other large section has blocks and a grey area which you can drag them to – your “scripts”.  I tell students that the character on the stage wouldn’t do anything unless instructed in their scripts – which seems to make sense for a lot of students.

Other than the sections, notice the colors – I’m constantly referring back to the colors when looking at completed scripts to backwards engineer and try to figure out how things work (or don’t work) based on the colors and their actions.

Over the next few days we’ll talk about the community and some tips with organizing that for students, “event driven programming”, variables, list, and making blocks.


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