In today’s session, we focussed on coding and, in particular, the program called Scratch Jr on the iPads. I have had some experience of the Scratch program on computers, while at a school for experience. The iPad version was slightly different, and I hadn’t gotten the chance to experiment on my own with it before, so I was excited for this class! Throughout the input, we also looked at why coding is so important in today’s society and why children should learn it, and looked at the links to the Curriculum for Excellence outcomes across all levels.
Firstly, it is important, as a teacher, to fully understand why you are teaching a lesson – if you can’t justify the reason you are teaching something, you shouldn’t be teaching it! You have to pass on the reasons and the context to the children to ensure they are a invested in the learning as they can be. This is why we have looked at the benefits of coding in the classroom. Firstly, it is becoming more and more important to have the ability to code in today’s society, and it can be expected that in years to come, coding will be an even bigger part of our lives; as I have mentioned before, it is important to always keep in mind that we are preparing children for jobs of the future. It can even be said that coding is the ‘new’ literacy! This may seem far-fetched just now, but the coding language is used a lot in day-to-day life, even if we don’t realise it ourselves. Also, the act of learning coding can help people use strategies for solving problems, designing projects and communicating ideas.
Scratch Jr is a programming language designed specifically for young children to allow them to create their own interactive stories and games. The program makes coding into a visual experience, as the child drags and drops ‘blocks’ that tell their character what to do: jump, walk, talk etc. However, children using Scratch Jr not only improve upon their computing skills, they learn to “think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively – essential skills for success and happiness in today’s world.” (The Lead Project, 2014). The Scratch programme is specifically designed to enable children to explore and experiment, with no limits to their imagination. It is for this reason that Scratch is so versatile and can aid teachers in subjects like mathematics, English, music, art, design and information technology. This also links with the Curriculum for Excellence’s Experience and Outcomes: first and second level outcomes such as “I explore ad experiment with the features and functions of computer technology and I can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts” (TCH 1-04a/TCH 2-04a) can be achieved by working with programmes such as Scratch.
As part of this class, we were challenged to create our own story using Scratch to illustrate it. We had to at least: change the background; add characters; program the characters to move and add in some speech. It was really interesting to use the programme for ourselves as it helped us to get into the mind of a child and how they might meet obstacles while exploring, and how they may overcome them and use their problem solving skills. It is obvious that children would get a lot of enjoyment out of working with this programme as well as quality learning and problem solving experience.
The Lead Project (2014) Super Scratch Programming Adventure: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games! No Starch Press.
YouTube Tutorial – Welcome video and short introductory tutorial: