In today’s lesson we explored coding, specifically through the programme Scratch Jr. which is used in many schools. We experimented with Scratch Jr. ourselves and discussed how coding could enhance learning for children. We referred to both further reading on professionals opinions of coding as well as through our own experiences and creations of lessons plans on Scratch Jr.
Scratch Jr has been designed to allow children to create and explore and so it can support many different learning styles which is essential in modern day, busy classrooms where every child is an individual and has their own preferred style of learning. There are many other benefits to the use of coding programmes in schools; Children are not only being encouraged to be creative, they are also gaining reasoning skills and learning how to work collaboratively. All of these are skills are essential to becoming successful later on in their life. To have a programme which can engage and help children with many different learning styles in areas across the curriculum is an incredibly useful tool (The Lead Project, 2014).
During today’s lesson our objective was to create a story using Scratch Jr. to promote literacy skills in a chosen level of the curriculum i.e. early or first level. We had to link our story with our chosen level alongside the specific experiences and outcomes which we had also chosen from the Curriculum for Excellence. There were some online tutorials which talked us through various aspects of the programme; how to choose a landscape; how to choose various characters and how to move these characters around. I had never used any programme like Scratch Jr. before and so this style of tutorial with a step by step guide was very useful before the upcoming assessment. I decided to focus upon first level and I decided on the following outcomes;
By considering the type of text I am creating, I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in a logical sequence and use words which will be interesting and/or useful for others- LIT 1-26a
I am learning to use my notes and other types of writing to help me understand information and ideas, explore problems, generate and develop ideas or create new text- LIT 1-25a
I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts- TCH 1-01a
(Education Scotland, 2014)
In the story I created for my lesson I set out the basic outline for a fairytale story. My first slide featured a girl in a car driving away from a house. From experience in schools I have found that many children, and adults alike, find getting started the hardest part of story writing and so this is why I believed it was important to include this as my opening slide in the story. On the slide I provided various story starters for those children who may need more help to get their story started e.g. ‘Once upon a time…’. My next slide is an opportunity for children to describe the scenery and how the main character might be feeling at this point. I decided to leave my story at a disequilibrium to give the children some freedom and allow them to use their imagination to decide what happens next to the character. Before starting this particular lesson with the children, in previous weeks I would have introduced the Scratch Jr. programme to the class and each week shown them a new feature of the application, therefore on this week they would be more confident in using the application so I could focus the lesson more upon literacy. I would read through my story with the children, pausing to ask what they thought on each slide and writing down different ‘buzz words’ that the class came up with to describe characters feelings or the scene so they could refer back to the board earlier, see the buzz words and use these in their own stories. I would also give the children some thinking time and ask if they had any ideas what might happen to the main character after the story as well as sharing some of my own ideas so that children who may find this a daunting task would have lots of ideas to use in their own story.
This photo is an example of how customisable this programme is. For all of the characters provided in ScrathJr. you can add to them and change their colours. Also, for some of the other characters children can take a picture of their own, or someone else’s face, therefore allowing them to add themselves into their story, the child can become the hero, the driver, or one of the characters having a conversation with a dragon!
After thinking of how I would use Scratch Jr. in a classroom setting this made the idea come to life for me and I understood how useful a tool this could be to a lesson. It is very engaging and makes the story come to life which would be incredibly helpful for children who struggle to engage with story writing, before having to describe the dragon on paper the class could create their own purple dragon with red eyes, a jaggy jewelled tail and terrifying teeth on the ScratchJr. app.
Education Scotland (2004) Curriculum for Excellence [Online] Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf [Accessed: 31 January 2018]
The Lead Project (2014) Super Scratch Programming Adventure: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games! No Starch Press.