In one fourth-grade class students had a US state presentation project as one of the last assignments for school this year. I received the okay from the teacher to allow a student to make his presentation using Scratch. He was a Code Club member and I knew he had the programming skill and drive to complete all the requirements for the project using Scratch.
While the rest of the class used Google Slides, he made this great Scratch interactive project to share. He worked hard and I was impressed with the results.
He set the project up like a Chatbot project and used broadcast to change the backdrops. He also asked questions to keep the audience engaged.
I was available to help with the coding, but he worked pretty independently.
I would have liked to see more picture Sprites. We also discussed recording some audio for a portion of the presentation but ran out of time. He made a bibliography backdrop but it didn’t get included in the version we uploaded. Before he presented this to his class, he made some last minute changes that are saved in his account offline and not published.
He has his own Scratch account now and I know he will continue to code and create in middle school. That makes me really proud.
He had a rough end of the year within his classroom and with the dynamics of some of the other students so I was glad to be able to give him some flexibility with this assignment and let him do something he enjoys and show his coding skills.
I would like to think that Scratch would be an acceptable presentation format for other school projects like this. I have been thinking along these lines for a while and now have proof that it can be done and can show teachers what the results look like.
The projects for our showcases are finished and have been published on the Scratch site and I’m compiling them onto our school Code Club page in preparation for our final meetings this week when the parents come to see what we have been up to.
Chatbot and Pong game in one project
There are some pretty impressive projects. And the students’ hard work is evident. Maze games, Chatbots, Races, Survivor games, Pong types:
Space Pong – hit the portal that matches the ball color.
Then there’s The Epic Game where there are 4 games in one project. The two girls working on this one came in at recess to work on it and were really motivated to meet their goal of finishing it.
The Epic Game – it took epic effort.
They learned a lot about game flow, how to use broadcast effectively and how making one seemly insignificant change can break everything. And about testing, testing, testing. I thought I would need to show them Rik Cross’s Cheat Codes, but their chatbot like game flow let us quickly get to the game that was having issues.
I’m really proud of all of these projects and coders, even the two, possibly three, Try Not To Laugh projects. Yes, it seems we have a dancing llama infection. The first TNTL project was a dancing llama project from Showcase #2 called Super Awesome Llama Man. I wasn’t that impressed with the project makers plan or effort, but it fit his personality and every single 4th grader who sees it seems to think it is hilarious in it’s absurdity. This year the llama man Sprite is back in a couple of Try Not to Laugh projects. Also is a walking taco and troll face.
Llama is back – TNTL
I okayed one TNTL project but when two students project derailed because they couldn’t agree on how to proceed with their joint project, I okayed their change to a TNTL project.
So many llamas
I tried to find funny gifs other than the llama, but they all love the llama. Really, it’s not funny anymore.
This week both code clubs did the same project – Code Club World’s Chatbot. I like this one because it is not a game and students can be very creative at asking questions for the user to answer. My goal was for them to learn about 1) user input, 2) if-then-else and 3) operators. That’s a lot. At a minimum, I think most everyone was able to use the “ask and answer” blocks, the “join” block and try one “if-then-else” block.
Some were able to add animations at the end which I thought was pretty cool. Some went back to their previous maze game and added some talking. Also cool.
The Wednesday club wore out my high school student with their needs, despite my call for them to ask a neighbor for help first before you ask an adult.
Thursday’s club figured out that if the answer is not typed exactly, then the “else” clause runs. So if the user types “sure” instead of “yes” the program will think it is wrong. One student had an extra space in the operator clause, as in answer = “yes “. That bug took a bit to fix. Another student was looking for a really big number:
One of the tricky parts to this lesson is a defining variable and setting the answer to it. The students can follow the directions, but I don’t know that they understand why they are doing that or what it going on. I have to remember these are pre-pre-algebra students. Still, they will most likely want to keep track of a score or timer, so for now, they will try it and later we will come back to this concept when they need it in their projects.
While I love the creativity and extensions this project allows for, you do have to set expectations for appropriateness. I had to ask a few students to change their responses to the questions. I like to go around and test out their programs, putting my name in as the answer to “What’s your name?”. When the response is “That’s a dumb name” or something equally as inappropriate, I get a bit disappointed and tell them to change it to something appropriate. One student responded, “I didn’t think you’d play the game.” He obviously knew he was being inappropriate but was, at least, embarrassed by it.
Here’s one more creative take on Chatbot: