Helen began this afternoon’s session by showing us the latest draft of the proposed new Computing programmes of study for Key Stages 1 and 2. It really is a massive shift away from the current ICT curriculum and will require even Key Stage One children to be taught relatively high level computing skills such as using logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs and writing and testing simple programs.
After this we spent the remainder of the session exploring a programming tool called Scratch. Scratch is a free tool that allows you to build programs by dragging, dropping and combining different blocks that represent common coding concepts. Once finished you are even able to publish your program on the Scratch website for others users to see!
We were tasked with using the tool to create a game however it can also be used to make interactive stories, music, art and animations. After familiarising myself with some of Scratch’s features I carefully followed one of the sets of instructions that we were provided with to create my game. To my surprise, I found the whole process to be very straightforward (the coding blocks are colour coded) and within about half an hour I had created my very own whack-a-witch game. The aim of the game is to click on as many witches as possible before the 30 second timer runs out. The 4 witches are all customized; they are all different colours and sizes and move at different speeds. They are all also worth a different amount of points; clicking on a smaller, faster witch scores you many more points than a larger, slower one!
I think that this tool has lots of potential for use within the classroom, particularly in light of the government’s decision to replace ICT lessons with Computer Science, as it introduces children to the key concepts of programming in a fun and accessible way. In addition to this it is also a brilliant way of developing children’s precision and problem solving skills and encouraging children to think computationally. Furthermore this type of activity could be easily differentiated by providing more able children with advanced level instructions that would allow them to create more complex games. However in order to feel confident in using Scratch with pupils within the classroom I would definitely have to spend much more time familiarising myself with both the features of the Scratch tool itself and programming and coding in general as had I not had my trusty set of instructions I would have been well and truly lost!
It’s safe to say that at the beginning of this session I was definitely nervous at the prospect of programming my own game however despite this initial anxiety, I managed to make a very professional looking game that I’m really quite proud of.
Check out my whack-a-witch game below!
Bye for now….