I have been playing with scratch for a while and written tutorials and helped out in my school computer club and got my wife teaching scratch at her school and am convinced that it really empowers children to make the computer do what they want the computer to do rather than be limited to what they think the computer will let them do.
However, I do not see much movement from the education authoriites on scratch and the curriculum in the UK is pretty out of date when it comes to technology. It seems that it is possible for enlightened teachers to use scracth in their normal lessons as well as in computer clubs.
I want to challenge my local authority to make sure that they evaluate scratch with a view to supporting teachers who may want to use it in their classrooms here in Sussex (in the UK).
Does anyone know how I should go about getting the local authority education department to notice and pay attention to scratch ? Does anyone want to start a pressure group ? Please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last edited by redware (2009-06-23 18:48:17)
In fact, the national curriculum for ICT, whilst specifying the content of the lessons, makes no mention of software. So any teacher is at liberty to use scratch to teach (eg) control systems or computer based picture painting (KS1). Or use it as the basis of presentations or animations in KS2 literacy. Or for the giving directions/making turns parts of numeracy (KS1 and 2).
If you want to get scratch into more schools, the real people to get interested are the ICT tutors at your county's teacher training colleges. If they are impressed by it, they will include it in their lectures, getting the trainee teachers interested, which will then filter into schools from the bottom up.
Alternatively, if your wife's school is part of a cluster, they probably have cluster meetings and you could arrange to give a presentation at such a meeting.
It seems to me that there are also some other countries with similar problems.
I fully support your idea of promoting Scrach to teach children in order to stimulate creativity. I believe this approach also helps in understanding how computers work which consequently stimulates using computers to solve problems.
My wife is really happy teaching scratch in the classroom at school. She has had the advantage of seeing me getting our children started with scratch but I have not been there in the classroom holding her hand. I think that teachers just need a couple of hours introduction to scratch and PLENTY of resources (lesson plans and so on) and Scratch could become part of everyday teaching. The lovely thing is that the kids can contribute too with their sample projects and so forth. Scratch is well thought out and can fit into may parts of the currriculum. Presenting with scratch on a white board (many classrooms in the UK have an interactive whiteboard connected to a PC) could provide great learning materials. I want to focus on the everyday use of scratch in the classroom combined with ICT lessons to empower the children to manipulate and control their computer and computing environment. They need to be in charge of the computer and not the other way around. I think one way forward is to move scratch out of the computer club and into the classroom by paying attention to how it fits into the curriculum. Unfortunately I don't get paid to product materials and this message is very hard to get across and so the uptake of Scratch seems very slow in the UK. The same applies in other countries..... ? I Anyone had any success with educational insitutions anywhere ?
I think that the best method of presenting a thing like this to educators is to show them how it can be used in education, then how it helps the child.
I think that your best arguments are:
o With the operators category, students can learn math by trial and error, and can take math to a whole new level by actually applying it to working programs, not just doing seatwork.
o Show them the MIDI functionalities in the sounds category. It is proven that music makes you smarter, but music AND programming?!?! That's gotta churn out its fair share of geniuses.
o Scratch teaches students 'cause and effect.' They can see first hand how one event makes another happen, and so on. They also need to develop an understanding of such, to make programs.
o Scratch gives students confidence. A completed piece of seatwork is just another paper to them. But to be able to say 'I can program. Look at what I've made...' motivates them to do more.
o Scratch allows students to be creative and productive at the same time.
o Scratch allows students to show their full potential. Writing down the answer to 3/(8^2-(-7)x8) does not give much of a choice to how to do it, and limits the student to a single approach. However, to say 'go make a project that simulates a pinball game,' lets the student use their imagination on it, find their own solutions, and not only learn much more than a sheet of questions would teach them, but also extend the project as far as they want.