Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Scratch

Computer science is certainly a hot topic in education. Why shouldn't it be? Isn't software development a booming business? It doesn't look like technology is slowing down anytime soon. Teachers and students may want to take a more careful look at computer science when referring to the future opportunities.

I came across a TED Talk last night by Mitch Resnick. He works at MIT and played a part in the creation of Scratch. Scratch provides users (young and old) with some basic skills for computer programming. It is really a language of it's own as students piece together blocks of commands to create digital animations. If you have 17 minutes to spare, I'd highly recommend watching it.

One of the key-points Mitch Resnick makes in this TED Talk is that not everyone will be computer programmers. However, he believes it is important that everyone at least has the experience of programming a computer. I couldn't agree more as I've taken up learning to code HTML and CSS3 at Code Academy. Learning HTML basics has helped me quite a bit with issues here and there on the internet. I've been able to look at code, find errors, and replace it so that my website appears the way I want it. 

So let's think about this from a teacher's standpoint. Why should I let students use Scratch? Scratch essentially can be a full fledged interactive animation creation tool, or utilized as a presentation tool. Students can use it to report their learning in so many ways, it would be hard to list them all. It provides the flexibility and creative freedom that most presentation tools do not provide.

Here is a great example: 

For the next few weeks, Mrs. Huelsenbeck and I will be introducing fifth and sixth grade students to the world of Scratch as she so generously is providing me with her technology time. This week, they are going to check out the video from Mitch and also a little message from me as students under 13 will need to gain access by way of parent email. If you are interested in participating or you are a teacher and want to get it launched in your classroom, the information below might be of use to you. 

Click to See Parent Promotion

Lastly, as I am working on this blog post, I was searching Twitter and found that MIT will be producing a Scratch Jr. That will be geared more towards kids that are between the ages of five and seven. Apparently it will also be available on multiple platforms (iOS, Windows, etc). I will certainly look forward to that day.