Computing Session 5: Extending Computing in KS2: Scratch

scratch_logoToday’s session was once again centred on computer programming however this week we focused on Key Stage Two rather than Key Stage Once. At the start of the session, we watched a short video clip of Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, talking about the importance of teaching children Computer Science. He highlighted the fact that the skills taught through a computing curriculum such as creativity, logical thinking and problem solving are of great value in later life even if children do not go on to have a career in computer programming.

After watching the clip, we went on talk about how programming can be introduced to Key Stage Two children through programming tools such as Scratch. Scratch is a tool that I am fairly familiar with as we spent quite a bit of time looking at it last year.  As I mentioned in my post last year, it is a visual programming language that allows users to create their very own stories, games and animations by sequencing blocks that represent different coding concepts.

Having managed to create a really effective whack a witch game during last year’s programming session, my partner and I felt confident enough to try and create another game. We followed a set of Code Club instructions that we were provided with to create the “Fish Chomp” game below-the aim of the game is to get the fish to eat all of the lobsters.

Overall I’m really proud of what we managed to achieve as I think the games looks really professional however had we had more time I would have liked to go on to complete the challenges at the back of the instructions such as making the lobsters avoid the hungry fish, to create a more complex game.

Scratch is definitely a great tool for getting children excited about computer programming as it is relatively easy to use yet allows you to create really professional looking end products. In addition, as it allows you to create animations, interactive art and stories as well as games there’s something to interest everyone-even the most reluctant coders! What’s more as Scratch is now web based you don’t have to worry about whether or not your school has the software!

However despite all of these positives, l personally feel that children would require quite a substantial level of support to get a stage where they would be able to use Scratch to programme independently. Therefore I would recommend that teachers set simple tasks to begin with and gradually build up to more complex tasks and allow the children to work in pairs so that they have someone to talk things through with if something goes wrong and the programme isn’t working as expected!

At the end of the session, we had a brief chat about a couple of other programming tools; Python and Codecademy. These are often recommended as the next step on from tools such as  Scratch as they are textual rather visual programming languages. After having a quick look at both of them I can definitely say that I would have to brush up on my coding skills before I would feel confident enough to use either of them within the classroom however they would definitely be good tools to use to extend very able pupils/keen coders!

Although the thought of teaching computing still makes me feel a little anxious, I pleased with how my programming skills are coming along and definitely feel far more confident about teaching computing now than I did last year.

Bye for now…

 

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