Scratch Alternative Presentation

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.Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 1.30.49 PM

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.

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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.

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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.

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Amazing and Goofy

“Amazing and goofy at the same time (just like 4th graders)” is how I am going to be describing the Code Club Showcase of projects this time around.

The first showcase was this afternoon. I think the students were really nervous about the parents coming and worried about the logistics of the showcase but they filled out their presentation sheets and then had the chance to test out everyone’s projects before parents arrived. When the parents started arriving the students had to forego the computers for our guests and become hosts and hostesses.  They showed their family where to sit and helped them navigate to the projects. They were flexible about the presentation order as we decided to start before some parents to showed up and we switched a few around so that the parents would get to see their students presentation.

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I remembered my camera but had to ask a parent to take pictures for me.  He did a nice job.

I thought the presentations went really well.  At the last minute I thought to have them ask a buddy to play the game while they were presenting and that worked out nicely.  Pair presenters decided ahead of time who would say what.

Of course the parents loved the amazing and goofy projects. They seemed to follow along well – laughing and clapping when appropriate.

Tomorrow’s projects are just as amazing and goofy. We have two more Angry Bird type games – one involving flying toilet paper and the other a flying marshmallow.

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A good number of projects have strong, continual dance party music soundtrack going in the background.

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Some have some pretty awesome custom Sprites or backgrounds.Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 6.29.10 PM

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And then there are the llamas.

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A number of projects could have used more time to implement more of the things they had in mind. But, it is what it is.  I’ve been saying that a lot this last week. That is the lesson of the deadline. We tried to plan well, but even so, unforeseen things happen. With programming, things always seem to take longer than you think.

Tomorrow is the showcase and all these amazing and goofy projects will be presented to parents. I’m very proud of all these students. And I’ll think I’ll end there. It is what it is.

 

Showcase #2

Last week in Code Club we held a showcase of our projects for the parents. It went rather smoothly and I actually was able to enjoy it. Quite a change from the first showcase at the end of the first term! I felt prepared and felt the students were, too. Plenty of factors contributed to the improvements from round one.

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Maze Game

This time a majority of the 17 projects were ready to go by the end of the Code Club meeting prior to the showcase. Most projects were turned in so I could upload them to the online Scratch Studio ahead of time. I credit a number of reasons why this happened. First, some of coders had been through the process before, which helped. I think those students had a better idea of how big of a project could be accomplished and set better goals. Projects from Showcase #1 were good models for what could be done. With the help of two high school volunteers and self-designated expert code members, much progress was made in the time available.

I was more organized. I kept track of the projects and checked in with groups during the last weeks. I knew that the projects needed to be wrapped up a week before and was able to encourage most groups and individuals to keep to this timetable. I had a shared folder for students to save their projects to. I used time during the week to touch base with code members about their Scratch project page and to get the Code Club website ready for parents to navigate to.

Little Airport

Little Airport

I also helped troubleshoot some last minute bugs, found a lost project and let one student have some recess time because he had been absent.

The results of this effect meant that when the students got to Code Club on the day of the showcase they had 40 minutes before the parents arrived. We used this time for them to write their presentation -which they all did rather quickly. Then, once I had their presentation notes, they were free to test each other’s projects until the parents arrived.

Presentation outline

Presentation outline

Giving them time to play test each other’s projects before hand really helped the code club members enjoy the presentations they gave to the parents. I did error in the order of presentations and a new-to-Scratch student presented first. He was nervous, but he did fine. The students were not loud enough for the whole room to hear – but it was a very busy room.

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I was pleased with the turn out of parents. We filled the room and had to bring in extra chairs. The students were so proud of their work and I am so proud of them. It was a lot of work to get ready, but it was so much more enjoyable the day of.

Afterwards I took my two high school volunteers out to dinner to celebrate a job well done. I was grateful to have them help out each week. They both expressed how much they enjoyed helping out. I think they might be back next year.

I have plans to continue to my code club journal periodically until the next round of Code Club starts in the fall, but I may be just kidding myself.

End Script, Edit, Repeat

Well, Code Club Showcase #1 was a hit, I think.  The computer lab was completely packed with parents, grandparents, siblings…. Wow. Incredible turnout.  So much going on that I’m not really sure how it went.  I got an overall positive vibe in the midst of the chaos. I’m not sure anyone knew what to expect, myself included. I definitely will try a few things differently next time.

Animated story of Tenki Battle designed and created by a 4th grade Code Club member

Animated story of Tenki Battle designed and created by a 4th grade Code Club member

First, I must say I that I was impressed with each student. Not all the projects turned out as they had hoped.  Some didn’t present at the Showcase because they felt they didn’t finish. Some projects had technical difficulties.  The presentations were varied. Regardless, everyone worked hard and did their best to make something and show it off to their peers and parents.

Hero to the Rescue, an unfinished project.

Hero to the Rescue, an unfinished project.

I take responsibly for the chaos & technical difficulties. Those issues could have been minimized with some better planning. I need the students to finish their projects earlier so I have more time to get everything ready ( I thought I had, but they kept making changes to their projects.  I also need to give them time to prepare to present.  To me that means a re-engineering of the game design and review process. The deadline has to be defined and I need to be firm about it.  Every time I asked if a project was done, I invariably got, “not yet”.  Everyone was putting final touches on their projects up until the moment the parents arrived (or beyond). Then it was a scramble to make the project available to access while the creators were presenting it on the head computer.

Run for your Life game with code

Run for your Life game with code

I also need to remember that 4th graders should be given a chance to rehearse before speaking in front of a large crowd of parents and peers. I should’ve made a list of presenters, too. Then I would’ve known ahead of time that 2 groups didn’t want to present.

Showcase presentation

Showcase presentation

Finally, these projects need to be shared and enjoyed by the rest of the school.  Not that I need to drum up interest for Code Club, but it is quite remarkable what these students have accomplished in such a short time, and I think others in our school community should see and enjoy what they’ve done.  I’m very proud.

The Indespicable Giant Baby Head Game

The Indespicable Giant Baby Head Game

Even my high school student volunteer was impressed by some of the projects.  He especially liked and commented on The Indespicable Giant Baby Head Game makers’ unique way of coding for gravity.

Here’s the link to our Showcase studio on the Scratch website: Code Club Showcase #1

It’s Showtime

Tomorrow is our Code Club Showcase. I have invited the parents to come in and try out the games we have spent the last four weeks designing and building.  I think we just might pull it off.

Many of the projects came together last week, thank goodness.  By the end of Code Club, most were nearing completion and about four were deemed done.  Four others I’m still worried about.

One completed project

One completed project

As I discussed last week, I started a list for those who needed help on the whiteboard and between the three adults we were able to address a lot of student concerns. The hour was pretty productive.  Big sigh of relief.  Even those who were not finished did have some time during indoor recesses to work on their projects. There will even be time tomorrow at recess. Some still expect to get some final work done before the parents arrive. Yikes.  Makes me nervous.

Here’s an example of a project that is done. It’s been uploaded to the Scratch website.  It has instructions, notes & credits and even tags.  It just needs to be shared and it’s link added to the Code Club webpage.

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It’s a pretty cool game.  The special sound effect is such a big deal that the author coded this to highlight it’s awesomeness:

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I had planned to let the Showcase happen in an open house type format, but my parent volunteer emailed me with the suggestion that the students present and tell about their projects.  This is an awesome idea and so I’ve put together this presentation form.

Showcase present notes

Showcase present notes

So now I plan on having the parents sit in front of the computers with the webpage up and the students up in front where their project will be projected on the screen. Each group will explain their work and what they are most proud of – like the sound effect.  Then parents can try it out and we’ll move on to the next presenters. It might take a bit more than 1/2 hour to get through all 14 groups, but it will be worth it.