Coding Helpers

On Wednesday I decided to introduce Scratch to a class of second graders.  Wednesday’s schedule in the lab is such that there is an overlap of about 10 minutes with 4th grade alternative recess.  With the growing interest in coding among 4th graders, sometimes there are 4th graders waiting around for a free computer at the start of their recess.  I decided to put this fact to use rather than let it aggravate me. (They can be noisy while waiting).  I figured they could help me introduce Scratch to these 2nd graders.

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My goal was for the 2nd graders to add a background and a Sprite and make the Sprite do something when clicked.  I sort of sprung the project on both groups but it worked out well.  The 4th graders, as a whole, were very helpful and the 2nd graders were pretty excited with all the choices. It amazed them that a couple blocks of code could make their Sprites interactive.  I was proud of my 4th graders for their enthusiasm and their ability to share their expertise in Scratch with the younger students.  More 2nd graders were able to get support while trying something new.  I’m pleased.

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On other fronts, there are eighteen 4th graders signed up for Code Club.   Sadly, I’m competing with another after school program – Drama Club – so I have only 2 girls on my roster.

 

 

 

Virtual Pet Event

I realize that my last two blog posts have not been about Code Club but Scratch projects that happen during school.  Code Club has been going pretty well, so let me catch up on that front.

We tried a Pong game project the second week, which I have written about before. I recall them being a bit needy during the project but I just might be remembering the whiners. I’ve seen some successful projects in the subsequent weeks from those very same needy seeming students.

There is some free time at the beginning of Code Club while we wait for the bus to bring over the coders from the other elementary school.  This gives some of them a few minutes to bring up old projects they’ve started, remember what they were doing, tweak them or show them to a friend.  Once everyone is there, we have snack and discuss the current project of the day.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 8.38.56 PMThe week after Pong we tried “Create a Virtual Pet” project that is under the Tips tab of Scratch 2 Offline Editor.  I was looking for a non-game project similar to Code Club World’s Chatbot project, which some of these students did last Fall, as I have written about, twice.  One of my goals is to expose these coders to a variety of project types. I think these types of projects appeal to the non-gamer types, (dare I say girls?) and shows other ways to use Scratch coding.

“Create a Virtual Pet” is also a great way to introduce the power of broadcast and receive. I feel like I didn’t cover broadcast and receive well in the Fall.  This project concentrates on the Events code blocks:  “when this sprite is clicked”, “broadcast”, and “when I receive”.

We also got to use and get to know the “glide” block.  All very useful.

I showed the students the Tips tab that they could use as a resource but I also printed out some screenshots from “Create a Virtual Pet” for them to use. I did try looking for a pdf of this project.  I found a video tutorial, a Scratch project tutorial and a 41 page pdf from We Can Code It which looks fabulous, but more than I needed.

I took some time to introduce this and showed my take on the project at the beginning.

 

I prefer to let them discover their way but I’ve a feeling this group could benefit from more introduction.  I think the number of lines of code it used, although mostly glide blocks, put them off a little.

Most of the students were not able to get all the way through the project and some seemed disappointed by this when Code Club was over so soon.  I was pleased with what they got done and told them so and that this would make a nice project for the Showcase if they chose.

The designs for those independent projects are due real soon.

Quick Rock Band Project

It seems like every time a 3rd grade teacher asks me for an idea for a project, I suggest a Scratch project. I have gone a little Scratch happy, I guess.

Last month the students were learning about light and sound. Scratch is great with sounds, so I suggested they make a clickable drums and build a “band” in Scratch.  I’ve looked through the Code Club’s Rock Band Project and am familiar with the song building ability in Scratch but I’ve never introduced these projects to a group of students.

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The project I suggested uses the ideas from Code Club’s project but I didn’t handout any project pages. I set it up like this:

  1.  pick a stage appropriate for a band
  2.  add a drum Sprite and make it play a drum beat when clicked.
  3.  add 2 more drum Sprites and make them clickable with different drum sounds
  4.  add another instrument, or microphone and singer (make the clickable)
  5.  add any final personalized touches to your Rock Band

I was able to walk the group through the first two steps during their first session.  The class had other assignments in the computer lab during the next week or so but were able to get back to their Rock Band if they had time at the end. After the occasional chances to work on the project, it was time to have them finish up and “hand it in” virtually.

Here is the rubric I used.

Stage

(max 2 points)

There is no Stage (0) There is a Stage background (1) There is an appropriate Stage background (2)
Sprites

(max 4 points)

There are no Sprites (0) There is at least one drum Sprite (1) There are 3 or more drum or band Sprites

(2-3)

There are at least 3 drum Sprites, a mic and singer or additional band instruments (4)
Scripts

(max 4 points)

There are no clickable Sprites or no sounds (0) At least one drum Sprite is clickable and makes a drum sound when clicked (2) Most Sprites are clickable and make a sound when clicked (3) Each Sprite is clickable and makes a different sound when clicked (4)

Most of the students, if they lost points, only lost points on the Scripting.  I included a picture of their rock band with the graded rubric.

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This served its purpose in that it was fun, gave the students a reason to play with Scratch and fit in with their science curriculum.  I think I would change the assignment some next time. There are many ways to use sound blocks and built-in sounds from the Scratch sound library.  I also would like to see the students record their own sounds, their voice or an instrument.

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The students used Scratch 1.4 for this project only because it is the Scratch icon on their desktop and they’d have to go and “look for” Scratch 2 in All programs.  Scratch 2 would also work fine for this project.