We hosted our first Oklahoma Scratch Camp Educator training last weekend. A group of educators and community members interested in utilizing technology in education came together to learn how to help students develop the skills and mindsets they need to be successful in the future economy and society.
We started the day by discussing the keys to successful Scratch learning and ended with some valuable exploration time. If you’re curious, all of the day’s resources and materials have been made available to all.
Here are my biggest takeaways for those of you who are thinking about using Scratch, or any other tool for teaching kids to code, in your classroom or at home:
Low bar, wide walls, high ceiling
If Scratch was a room, that’s what it would be shaped like. Low floor (easy to get started, even with zero programming experience), high ceiling (even though it’s easy to get started, it’s also possible to create really complex projects) and wide walls (Scratchers can make all kinds of projects- not just art animations but games, experiments and stuff we haven’t even imagined yet).
Start with an “unplugged” activity to introduce concepts
One of the most entertaining parts of the day was when our instructor, Wes Fryer played blindfold remote control. With his eyes covered, Wes had to get to the doorway without bumping into anything with the help of a volunteer who used only his voice to give short commands and guide him across the room. Kids love this activity and it lays the foundation for learning about algorithms and directing sprites in Scratch.
Be Socratic (Ask, don’t tell)
Don’t just give kids the answers, help them work to FIND the answers they already know. Ask leading questions to help them get to the root of the problem.
Don’t do too much instructing
Go over the basics and then let students run with it by playing and experimenting. It’s okay to help when students get stuck, but always let them control the mouse. If they’re not doing the driving, chances are they aren’t the ones doing the learning either.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
One of the things I love about Scratch is the vast amount of resources that already exist. ScratchEd is an online community where Scratch educators connect to share stories, exchange resources and ask questions. The fine folks at MIT have also created materials like the Creative Computing Curriculum Guide and the Scratch Workshop Design Guide. They even have an entire website devoted to helping educators and community members host International Scratch Day events.
Speaking of Scratch Day, we’re participating! We’ll be one of over 200 Scratch Day events happening across the globe.
Be sure to save the date for Scratch Camp on Saturday, May 14. We’re hosting camp at Oklahoma City University and there are 28 seats available. Registration will open later this week.