Scratch Work in Progress

Watching 4th graders make their own Scratch games is a blast. My two high school volunteers and I have a lot of fun troubleshooting coding quandaries and generally watching students’ “ah-ha” moments when discovering ways to code their ideas.  They love to show you what they’ve built so far and tell you what’s coming up next.

Last week I used quietAnnie1’s idea to start an Expert list on the board.  Students who wanted to volunteer their Scratch expertise to help other students could put their name on the list.  If other students needed help, they could first ask an expert before putting their name under the Please Help list. This did keep the Please Help list short.

I brought out the microphone for a student and later saw another student had started a Microphone list.  I love that kind of initiative.  (A note about microphones and students:  If you think 20 kids programming together in an after school setting is noisy, just throw a microphone in the mix. It will not help.  Generally Code Club has a productive noisy buzz, but I did have to ask for quieter voices a time or two last week.)

Some interesting games are under development and some good progress has been made.  I’m optimistic that our 2nd showcase will not be as stressful or chaotic as the first.  Time will tell.

Here are a couple of progressing games by new Scratchers:

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Beat this, if you dare

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Maze game

I also had time this week to complete my final project for the “Programming in Scratch” MOOC on EdX by HarveyMuddX. It is a simple adventure game.  It needs some final kid testing, but I’m satisfied with it: Princess Project

Princess Project adventure game

Princess Project adventure game

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Something Strange in the Neighborhood

Who ya gonna call? This week we tackled the Ghostbusters game from Code Club level 1 projects.  I slated it for this week since we met just before Halloween.  I gave them a bit of leeway on following the project to the letter and let them pick any ghost sprite, and use any sound. Most of the issues we encountered this time were same as the ones we encountered last week – generally there were issues locating specific code blocks and difficulties following directions specifically enough for the game to work.

Ghostbusters Scratch

But they pick this stuff up so fast and make sense of it, too.  It is amazing.  Some of them are starting to know where they can make their own changes without affecting the game play or where their changes actually can make the game better.

My plan for Code Club this week was to start off reflecting on last week’s learning project and see how everyone felt Code Club was going. As much as I understand the importance of reflection, I don’t always take the time to let the students reflect. This week, though, I wanted to hear their thoughts on how the first learning project went. Unfortunately, reflection time at the beginning, during snack, was derailed a bit by the general, insuppressible excitement level of the students, something that I had been noticing all day – probably due to a trifecta of events this week: Open House last night, indoor recess due to rain that day, and the anticipation of Halloween on Friday.  There was nothing to do but move on to the main event: Coding!

I felt a bit more prepared this time as I had just walked through the Ghostbuster project with a couple of students earlier during indoor recess.  It really helps to actually work your way through a project, or help someone work their way through one. It is a different level of understanding than just reading through it. (Shocker)

When we came to the part to add a sound to the game when you score a point, I did fuel the fire of their enthusiasm by bringing out two microphones and letting the students record their own sounds. Recording from microphones worked surprisingly well despite the noise level of 22 students working in Scratch in an after-school setting.

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For their final independent project, I will want them to create all of their own sounds, sprites and backgrounds.  I may have to scrounge up another microphone or create a schedule for their use.

Boy was it hard to stop at 4:15