Tuesday 29th January
In today’s class, we were looking at a programme called Scratch Jr. This introductory programme was designed to help children learn how to code and be creative. Scratch Jr can be used for children working at early all the way through to second level. It is a great way to introduce children to the world of coding and getting them to develop many skills. It is a programme I would imagine children would find extremely enjoyable. Coding can be a difficult skill to grasp, however it plays a big part in developing literacy in the classroom today. There are many benefits to using Scratch with children as it helps to develop a range of skills such as creative thinking, logical reasoning, problem solving and collaboration skills. When individuals learn how to code, they are also learning how to actively solve problems, design their own projects and also communicate their ideas in a range of ways.
My only previous experience of using Scratch was when I was in 2nd year of high school and I used the regular program. I remember it being such fun learning what all the different buttons were for and programming the characters to move around the screen. This brief knowledge did come in handy for this class. Our task for today was to design an interactive story which focused on the teaching of literacy. After playing about with the programme for a short time I became very familiar with it and it was very easy to navigate around. There are just enough features that you can programme your character to do, without making everything over complicated. The programme itself is very bright and colourful and has a good range of backgrounds, colours, characters and functions that make it very interesting and fun to use. The user can programme characters to move forward, back, up or down as well as getting them to speak or perform other actions such as jumping, getting bigger or smaller and doing 360-degree spins. The fun is endless.
For my task, I focused at aiming my activity for children working at first level. I used the Experience and Outcome LIT 1-05a which was “As I listen or watch, I am learning to make notes under given headings and use these to understand what I have listened or watched and create new texts”. My idea for this was that the children would watch the story of Sam the Scratch Cat going on an adventure to meet his friends. Sam advises the children to take notes on the information his friends give him such as their name, a description of them and their role in the community. At the end of the story, the children then have to write their own imaginative story and try to include as much of the information they have written down as possible.
In the world we live in today, everything is linked in some way to technology and so I think it is important for children to be learning about this form of technology that is coding. In England, children learn to code from age 5 to 16 (Curtis, 2013). Throughout this time they gain a wide range of knowledge which will hopefully prepare them well for their future. Naughton (2012), talks about his views on the topic and mentions that he believes children from all backgrounds should have the opportunity to learn some key ideas of computer science and understand computational thinking. This is something I fully agree with. I think it is so important that children have experiences in using different technologies and programmes. Not only do they allow children to gain deeper understanding of technology it allows them to be creative and express their ideas.
For my task, we had the opportunity to walk around the room to have a look at other people’s ideas and everyone was doing something completely different and based on a different area of the curriculum. It demonstrates that technology can be used in any area of the curriculum to enhance learning and not only focused within ICT lessons. “Scratch is designed for exploration and experimentation, so it supports any different learning style” (The Lead Project, 2014).
Overall, I enjoyed this class and I feel it allowed me to think more widely about how these applications can be used for any subject and the whole curriculum is linked together in some way. Scratch Jr is a very simple programme to use but also very effective in producing materials for use in the classroom. It is one in which I will definitely come back to using at some point in the future.