A couple of weeks ago my portable classroom dropped to 39 degrees Fahrenheit. During a rare Autumn hard freeze, the heater broke, and I wasn’t allowed to start a campfire to compensate.
I had to find a place to teach inside the main building. Luckily, our school has great rooms with computers in them. Most of the time there was an empty great room where I could teach class. I decided to have the kids do a crash course in programming using Scratch.
Not planning on this digression from the CSI unit, I didn’t have any plans ready. Scratch is still new to me so I had to wing it. The lesson I came up with takes about 10 to 15 minutes to do with students who are following along on their own computers. I showed the kids how to make a sprite move and how to change to a different sprite. I didn’t get into a lot of details. Then I assigned the kids a project. They had to create a story using Scratch. I encouraged them to try out the different blocks and to help each other. It worked out well and some kids are even using Scratch at home. This is great because with everyone putting their heads together, we get a lot of questions answered.
If you check Scratch out and wonder why I didn’t use the tutorial, it’s because I didn’t have time to go through it. Looking at it now, I am glad I started the kids off with something more simple. I may have them go through the tutorial in the future to learn new ideas.
I made a video to show the lesson I did with my students, Scratch Crash Course at http://youtu.be/vz82Zcl-Ig4. If you’ve never done computer programming before, I think you will find this video to be simple and helpful. I am not a computer programmer and am basically learning Scratch along with my students. It’s a friendly program that can be figured out if you are determined to have fun playing with it.
Here’s a cool video from Scratch to get you and your kids excited about computer programming, Scratch Overview Video http://vimeo.com/29457909.