Laura G

Blogging for ICT

Scratch and the Primary School Curriculum

on March 12, 2013

According to the Primary School Curriculum (1999), learning can be described as any experience that contributes to the child’s development. Scratch is a fantastic resource that applies to all of these learning principles in one formor another. However, areas that Scratch seems to be especially applicable are

1. The child is an active agent in his or her learning, and learning should involve guided activity and discovery methods, higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills should be developed

Scratch involves active learning at all stage. It generally begins as a guided activity, then the children are able to work more freely, building on what they learned in the guided activity, and move on to make their own creations by playing around and discovering, giving them only hints for guidance if needs be. This also ties in with higher order thinking and problem solving when they go on to discovery methods, that is, when they are set a challenge to work out on their own without guidance.

For example, in my lesson, I first showed them a simple version of a bat flying, to show the aim of the lesson. We then went through how to build the blocks in order to make it simply change the costumes. The children were then allowed to discover more about how to make their sprites animated by changing costumes and move around the screen, accompanied by music and backgrounds, and some children developed it even further of their own accord adding text, sensing etc. I then showed them a more complex creation of a sprite dancing to music, which they then went ahead to decipher how to create themselves, engaging in higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills.

2. Collaborative learning should feature in the learning process

Scratch is a highly collaborative learning tool. Using computers in the classroom, by their nature, are instantly collaborative lessons. So the children are learning from each other, talking about their ideas, helping each other realise them, as only one person can use the computer at a time, while the other person watches and offers advice Usually this might cause problems in other subjects, where one student is idol while the other works, but in this situation, both children in the pair are fully engrossed in the task at hand. Even a child with who has ADHD in the class, the teacher mentioned to me that she was amazed at how engrossed he remained for the entire lesson.

The children can also use the Scratch website as a collaborative tool, to learn from other people’s scripts from across the world. Most of the learning for Scratch that takes place in a collaborative environment.

In the lesson I taught, I also tried to add another element of collaboration to the task. I asked the children to code two sprites so that  it could become a two player game, that is, using the arrow buttons to control one sprite, and the a,s,d,w  keys to control another. This challenge also engaged them in collaboration of how to make it this way.

3. The range of individual difference should be taken into account in the learning process

When it comes to computers in general, it is natural that some children are more advanced than others, depending on  their socio-ecomonic backgrounds, general experience with computers and so on. In any class, you will have children on the spectrum of children who have no computer at home to children who attend computer classes outside of school weekly. But somehow Scratch still manages to differentiate itself. Children can work at their own pace without feeling under pressure from others. In the course of a lesson, the task is very easily differentiated, as when some children are finished long before others, they are able to work on themselves without even having to be told to, adding in extra details to their creation. For example, during my lesson on putting sound into creations, one boy deciphered how to record his own voice to get his Sprite to speak in his animation.
Also, the program itself is suitable for children with both ends of the spectrum of special learning needs. It is a visual resource, requiring simple motor skills, is colour coded and well labelled. It is also challenging, offering limitless opportunities for what can be done with it.

 

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One response to “Scratch and the Primary School Curriculum

  1. great post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not notice this. You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

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