Last week in Code Club students began the design phase of their individual Scratch project. I planned the session to go the same as Key Steps in Game Design did: guest speaker, game design document, short Scratch project. Things didn’t go quite the way I planned…
Guest Speaker: We had the same parent volunteer come and give the same talk about planning & time management. I was worried the ones who had heard it before wouldn’t pay attention, but each returning Code Club member has experienced the pain of running out of time and dealing with unfinished, buggy projects. So they listened.
Game Design Document: GDD Spring2015 This is the document where the students write out the plans and goals for their project, draw out their ideas for Sprites & Stages, define game flow & control elements, and set a schedule for achieving their goal.
Scratch Project: When I had finished going over the GDD, instead of wanting to work on a Code Club project, they all started to work on their game design and got down to planning. No one was interested in a project handout. They had their own project to think about and that could not wait. I was most impressed.
It is helpful, for me and the coders, to have been through this process once before. What made the difference, I think, from last time, is that this time I had examples of how a GDD turns into a completed project. I showed them a couple of different GDDs from the Fall -actual student work- and then brought up the game it turned into from our Showcase#1 -more actual student work.
One student finished the GDD, with a bit of help from me, and had time to start working on the Sprites. Already!
Two separate groups of three asked if they could work together. My rule is these are individual or pair projects. I turned one group down because I know them and one student would be doing all the work while the other two would have all the ideas. I have given a qualified ‘okay’ to the other trio on the condition that the jobs of each member are specified in the game document and divided evenly. I know them as well, and they might be able to manage. It is always interesting to watch team dynamics with students. Another duo started out together but by the end of the hour had already decided to work independently. Best to figure that out in the beginning.
By the end of Code Club I had a few finished GDDs ready for the design review this week. Some look pretty interesting and of reasonable scope. I’m not as nervous about their projects as last time. The students have had less time to plan, but I’ve seen some of the planning they’ve done and I know what they are capable of. I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with!