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Semester 2 Seminar 3: Control and coding workshop

Scratch:

During this session we explored a free coding website called ‘Scratch’ (https://scratch.mit.edu/). Similar to the ‘Hour of Code’, in order to code using Scratch, instruction blocks must be moved from the left over to the right. In doing so, the sprite (which is set as a cat) changes e.g. by moving. The sprite and background can however be changed as there are multiple options available, and in addition drawings can be created on the right and will then appear on the box to the left. Scratch activity cards are a valuable resource which can be used with children to help them familiarise with the program.

‘Starter projects’ are another feature of the website which include animations and games that allow children to view the codes created in order that such projects work, by clicking on the ‘see inside’ option.

Scratch 1

Scratch 2
This is one of the animations available – here I have added an apple.
Scratch 3
Here as you can see, I have changed the sprite to a dinosaur.

Following the session I discovered an article on a website called ‘WIRED’ (http://www.wired.com/2009/03/scratch-lowers/). The article explains Scratch (what it can be used for and how to use it), as well as highlighting its intentional design which keeps children as the target users in mind.

In addition, I also found a teacher’s blog which provides ideas about how Scratch can be used for ‘digital storytelling’ (https://www.graphite.org/blog/how-to-use-scratch-for-digital-storytelling). While some of the examples are aimed at older children, ideas such as using scratch to create poetry would help to make lessons more creative, unique and exciting.

Dash and Dot:

We also looked at a free coding app which works in the same way as Scratch. As opposed to the code influencing a sprite on-screen, in this case it programs ‘Dash and Dot’ to move and/or speak. It is an extremely interactive, fun and amazing way to learn about coding – for instance, it even responds to the sound of clapping.

Dash and Dot
See Dash (right) and Dot (left).
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