Laura G

Blogging for ICT

We started from Scratch….

on February 21, 2013

I’m meant to be in a school right now, this very second, introducing Scratch to children. But I can’t because I’m not exactly the most mobile I’ve ever been. So I’m just going to reminisce about that little program of building blocks that I have grown to become obsessed with. This week saw the end of our Scratch tutorials with Ronan.  Ronan gave us a fantastic introduction, with really helpful and clear resources, bringing us step by step through the world of Scratch, while giving us the odd challenge to make us think outside the blocks. And yet, this was only a mere glimpse at the possibilities of  this FREE resource, meaning there is no barrier between Scratch and school, even in this economic climate. And it is entirely user friendly, it all just comes down to using your imagination, logically placing blocks together that are very clear of their purpose, or, failing that, messing around with the codes until what you want to happen happens. There is also the back up help and inspiration from the http://scratch.mit.edu/ website, as with the endless supply of Scratch creations comes and endless supply of codes available to copy, manipulate or, in some cases, just sit back and gaze in awe. For example, this creation by a secondary school student in Cork who won the Scratch National Finals in 2012.

Scratch Project

Even the other runners up from that year are mind boggling, and are excellent examples to show to the children so that they can broaden their minds and see that there are no limitations with this program. For example, I know the class I had for senior teaching practice would have loved this creation as they were working on a project for a competition about fingerprints and forensics:

Scratch Project

There are so many applications that I can think of for use in the primary school. I’m delighted that I have this chance to learn about its uses before I go on my home teaching practice as opposed to finding out about it after I finish. It has to potential to really spice up a lesson and keep children enthralled. I’m just afraid that I’ll end up spending too long playing with it myself the night before rather than preparing my lesson plans, because you simply get lost in in the world of Scratch, never before have I felt a lecture fly by so fast as I have felt for the past few weeks! And if I get that enthralled by it, imagine what way the children will be!!

Scratch will allow the children of today and tomorrow to explore imaginatively and constructively in the same way we did with Lego back in the day fadó fadó. And in a society where we are trying to promote equality of gender, where boys may traditionally have been more involved in a constructive activity such as this, girls are now equally interested and involved in the construction of the Scratch creations. It is like a virtual, primary school equivalent of metalwork or woodwork, combining a creative design element with a functional, constructive element.

We have only “scratched” the surface with the possibilities so far (geddit?…..yes, too little sleep and too much time spent in front of a computer…I’m going to be one of those teachers that makes the really lame jokes that the children will just cringe about). You probably have already heard of my very first attempt at something at Scratch where I made Tommy Walsh and Lar Corbett dash around Croke Park that I am terribly proud of…

Scratch Project

WELL, since then I have gotten the sprite to make all kinds of shapes in all kinds of colours, made an interactive sprite, made a psychedelic mouse-movement controlled sprite, and most importantly, made still pictures come to life! My very own little cartoon of a girl dancing! Yes, again not the most exciting thing you may ever have seen, but I think its pretty cool. And in the spirit of the week that’s in it and all.

Scratch Project

What I find the most exciting about all this is how this will bring life to the children’s work, imagine drawing a picture and then you, at 10 years of age, making it come to life before your very eyes. Its every child’s dream! Image how that will be able to spice up a writing lesson, knowing that it can be used as a script to their very own little cartoon, and not alone that, but the characters can be their own literally handmade creations. This in itself links in with so many curricular areas, such as English and art, but also in critical, forward thinking and planning. It is the copybook corner cartoon of the 21 century! I know I would have enjoyed my writing lessons in school so much more if I thought I could bring them to life like that, giving them a moving image element. So it also helps children keep and interest by integrating with the lesson, and possibly unlock an area to their imagination they never knew they had.

I look forward to hopefully getting out into the school very soon and spending many more hours playing with Scratch. To the detriment of all other modules. Oh well.

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