Starting from ‘Scratch’


Posted by MacKinnon | Posted in ICT, programming | Posted on November 2, 2012

During session 3 we continued to explore Scratch.
In small groups we were given the task of creating the outline for a few lessons in teaching Scratch.
The group I was in decided to use cross curricular links with science.
As part of the key stage 2 science curriculum children explore the skeleton, so we decided that we would run these plans alongside the teaching of the skeleton.
The lesson ideas give a brief outline to what we would do in sessions but we were sure that we wanted the lessons to be more practical and exploratory for the children. We wanted them to collaborate and share their own experiences .

Teaching Programming to Children

To start to teach how to use the programme Scratch we would start with a topic, for example our topic could be the human body.  The children’s age group is between 8-10.

The overall aim from 3 hours of lessons is for in small groups for the children to create their own app, of a dance, incorporating different parts of the body.

Lesson 1
The starting point would be for the teacher to show a pre created app and introduce Scratch that way.  The first lesson is introducing basic Scratch skills with the children. The children will follow the class teacher on netbooks as the teacher demonstrates the steps on the interactive whiteboard.
The basic skills will be:

1 Choosing a Sprite

2 Creating a sprite

3 Choosing a background

4 Creating a background

5 Input a simple movement (control then motion)

If this exercise doesn’t take the whole lesson the children have the chance to explore other commands.

The children will have laminated hand outs with labelled image of the screen.
The TA will be on hand, to ensure that all children are on task and the lower ability children are keeping up with the group.

Lesson 2
At the start of the second session the teacher will do a re-cap using open ended questions and purposeful mistakes for the children to correct. The teacher will introduce the task of assembling a human body; focussing on moving the different body parts to particular coordinates to assemble. This will give the children the opportunity to refine their anatomical skills, whilst also inputting commands to form a programme.

The teacher will demonstrate the first two commands, showing how to move the legs to the base of the body (they can use questioning to check the children’s understanding, by asking for specific coordinates). The children will then be given the task in pairs to create their own sprites (the body parts) and inputting commands to assemble their body.

Our example:
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Lesson 3
The third session will consist of a brief recap, for example, how to make sprites move in specific directions. The teacher will show an example of a dancing skeleton, kicking its leg and waving its arm. The teacher will then run through how to make the other arm wave.
The way we have made the arm waved is by using a costume change as the different position. This way the children can learn to use other tools in the programme.
Explain to the children that working in groups they will be creating a dancing human body, the children will be instructed to make individual sprites for each part of the body they would like to move. Alternatively, the children can use their pre-created skeleton as existing sprites to manipulate. LA- would be advised to use this process, however, HA will be more inclined to create their own backgrounds, sprites etc. The children can then add in other motions, such as moving from side to side or jumping up and down, exploring other options that the programme can provide.

An example of what the children could create after our 3 lessons:
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Extension lessons
In extension lessons using Scratch the class would be asked to take pictures of themselves or their partners and use their photographs as sprites to make them move. The class would then move onto adding music and backgrounds, to develop their app further.
By using the theme of the human body the children are developing their scientific knowledge and use Scratch to learn the different names of the bones. By doing the project in pairs the children are developing their speaking and listening skills and working together to finish the project.


Tune in to programming


Posted by MacKinnon | Posted in ICT, programming | Posted on October 26, 2012

With advances in educational ICT, programming with children is becoming more common in primary schools. In fact many education experts are assuming that in the new ICT curriculum (now due out circa 2014) computer science will take prevalence.

An examples of a programming system in schools already is LOGO.
Using a basic number of commands children are able to move a turtle animation in different directions, leaving a trail behind them, which can be various colours. Children could use this to try and write letters or create patterns. This is a good starting point for younger children to start computer programming and then move onto more difficult programming systems.

The programme that we used in session was Scratch. It has basic commands that are accessible for children, they can add costumes, backgrounds, sounds, characters and movement.
In an hours session I tried to explore the most I could and created this:

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