Tag-Archive for ◊ scratch ◊

Programming in the Classroom
Monday, October 29th, 2012 | Author:

Back in July, I wrote about an appearance on Brazilian TV where I would be discussing the use of Scratch to help with programming in school. I have just been sent the video and I thought I would share it on here. The video is mainly in Portuguese and we appear around 6:55 for 4 minutes or so. The video is mainly about the use of the Raspberry Pi, but our segment focusses on Scratch.

Ana Abar was the interviewer and she said:

“The feature was finally aired last week by Globo News (Brazil) and attracted a lot of attention. It was the programme with the highest audience of the week.”

Feel free to watch the video and let me know what you think.

The video is here.

My First Scratch
Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 | Author:

I know that this will shock many people but until about 24 hours ago, I’d never used Scratch. Never. I have seen Miles Berry present on it twice and have also worked with many others (Pete Stuart, Simon Hunt etc) who have talked about it, but I have never sat down and actually had a play. Until this morning. The reason? We were due to appear on Brazilian TV.

I got an email a few weeks back asking if I knew of any schools near London that were coding and teaching game design with primary children. I didn’t, but after a while it was decided that we were near enough London and the camera crew were coming in. On the last Tuesday afternoon of term. Hhhmmm. They were due to have a short interview with me about programming – the normal sorts of questions including:

  • Why do we teach programming?
  • Why is it important?
  • Will the Raspberry Pi change anything?
And so on. We do have a progression of skills throughout our school starting with simple Roamer/on-screen Roamer style tools to teach instructions and sequences and this then feeds into 2Do It Yourself which is an excellent tool for the basics of game design (along with Simon Widdowsden’s excellent 2DIY Archive for more advanced use including elements of coding) and then the plan is to include Scratch and Kodu for older children too. That’s the plan, but we’ve never got round to doing that bit until today.
I thought about using 2DIY with the children this afternoon but as the video was going to be shown in Brazil, and I wasn’t sure of 2Simple’s influence in South America, I thought I’d stick with a freebie program that could be available anywhere. Also, it would be great to see what my children could come up with in an hour on a tool they had never used before. Turns out that they were amazing.
We started with the video of the fish tank from Miles Berry and then we set out to replicate that. My thinking was that if we could all manage to create a fish tank with two fish in it that moved of their own accord, as well as a predator that would eat them, then we would know the basics. Then they could move on and explore further on their own. We made the fish tank in about 45minutes and then the children started adding text boxes, speech and other sorts of characters to make it more interesting and varied.

So why have I written this post? I just wanted to say that it isn’t wrong if you haven’t tried every piece of software in the world (I’ve only just started using Storybird and have never used Voicethread…in fact my first use of Sketch-up was only last year). This is normal. But these tools aren’t scary, they are simple to pick up and as I said in my interview, don’t worry if the children know more than you do. It’s great not being the expert in the classroom. Today was my first experience of that for ages and I loved having two Year 5 pupils on hand for some Scratch tips, they’d been shown it once at their secondary school transfer day last week and have since downloaded it and played with it constantly. So give it a go, watch the video below and let me know how you get on. The final piece for TV will be available in a few weeks and I will post it when I have a copy.

Miles Berry’s video is here: http://www.undertenminutes.com/?p=256 and Simon Hunt’s (@smnhunt) website about Scratch is here: learnscratch.co.uk

Programming in Primary
Thursday, August 18th, 2011 | Author:

Following on from appearing on BBC Click I have been invited to attend a meeting to discuss the place of programming in the primary curriculum. In our school we use 2Do It Yourself to create games and this started in KS2 but in June we made simple games with KS1 as well. Next year we will develop this further and introduce Kodu and Scratch across the school.

So my question is, do you have any game design or programming in your school? What do you do and from what age?

If you have any examples that I can share with the audience next week it would be very much appreciated!

TeachMeet Hampshire…the aftermath pt2
Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 | Author:

After discussing the event as a whole here, I thought I should talk about the high quality of the presentations from all involved. They were truly amazing. Sometimes at TeachMeets, there can be talks that are a bit weaker than others and some that might not be relevant to primary or to secondary, but at TMHants, we didn’t have this at all.

As mentioned, none of our presenters had presented at a Teachmeet before and the old adage of ‘Attend a Teachmeet, present at your second’ was true for some presenters such as Charlie Deane, Jo Rhys-Jones and Jon Audain.

The evening kicked off with a presentation from Hannah Knight from Horndean Infant School, Hannah avoided the fruit machine as she had to rush off early. Hannah uses a different VLE to most of Hampshire, yet this is irrelevant, the pedagogy is the important thing (as Emma Goto always tells me to say!) It is true though, there is very little difference between most VLEs and some of Hannah’s examples were amazing. I love the idea of filming ‘Guy Fawkes’ introducing a topic or Father Christmas having a VLE login so the children can interact with him. I wish Hannah could have carried on talking to really win over the VLE doubters! Horndean won a Becta Excellence Award in 2009, so please do take 5 minutes to watch the video. If you have any questions for Hannah, email me and I’ll pass them on.

Ok, so Hannah was done and the fruit machine could now come in to play…I don’t remember the exact order people came on, but will do my best.

Charlie Deane (@charliedeane) talked about her class blog and the power that it has had in her Y3 class. She started a blog with a bit of nagging from me and a lot of encouragement and inspiration from @oliverquinlan and his TMBett talk. Oliver’s blogs are here. Charlie talked about sharing children’s learning, improving enthusiasm and the fact that Pie Corbett himself has commented on a blog post! Not bad for a blog that is only three months old.

Jon Audain (@jonaudain) was covering for Phil Bagge (@baggiepr) as Phil was unable to attend. Jon began the first of his two presentations talking about the excellent e-book site MyEBook. I first saw this a few months ago after seeing a link from @colport, his books are here. MyEbook lets you add text, pictures and sound or simply convert a pdf and it makes a whizzy little e-book for your children or parents to look at. Why not upload children’s writing or create a school prospectus? Check out Jon’s examples or Phil’s examples. As Jon said, his children’s writing has been seen by 8000 people, truly powerful stuff!

Then came one of my highlights, no sooner had Jon got back to his table, the random fruit machine called him up again!

Jon then went on to talk about art packages and about the simplicity of Sumo Paint. He showed how he used Sumo as part of his Superhero topic, he then wowed us with his artistic ability and created a house which he quickly changed perspective on to make a tiled effect and this could quite easily have been from another planet. Sumo is a great package, why buy anything else when this one is free?? He also talked about the ‘create a Martian’ app he’s been playing with on his ipod touch and how the children used this to give their superhero an enemy. Jon’s presentation is available here.

Emma Goto (@emmagoto) talked about the power of using Bird Boxes to enhance her KS1 classroom. Full details of the Bird Box project can be found here. Emma discussed the impact that the birds had on the children’s writing and showed a 4 year old’s writing which had sentences, lots of words spelt correctly and full stops. Very good indeed! But nothing can top the excitement of your birdbox getting some visitors and being able to watch them online. This is something well worth looking in to and I will definitely be doing this in my school next year.

As mentioned in my previous post, I was starting to worry as a few presenters pulled out for various reasons. So I called on Twitter and asked the excellent Pete Richardson (@primarypete_) if he had time to knock together a video for us. On the night, we didn’t ‘need’ his video as time was running along nicely, but I couldn’t ask for something and then ignore it, so we showed it. And Malcolm became a star.

Please do take 2 minutes to watch this video. Malcolm the mole came on the screen to discuss Pete’s project, MOLE. The idea is that there is a map of the UK and it highlights different trips, residentials and places to visit. There are so many places you can go on a trip with your class, but schools tend to stick to what they know, Malcolm showed us that maybe we could explore instead. Great idea and I thank Pete for his hard work in making the video for us, Malcolm was definitely the star of the night. Please do go and add a pin to Pete’s map to help build up this collection of places to visit. Pete’s other presentation on the power of Prezi is here

During my presentation I talked about the use of social bookmarking. I was shown this by Kristian Still a couple of years ago and then did nothing with it until last year. Why save your bookmarks on different PCs? Why write down your favourite websites on a notepad? Why not share them? Delicious lets you share websites. We have started an account that I hope will become a Hampshire-wide account, but who knows. For now, there are about 250 websites that might be useful. Check it out here and my previous blog post about it here.

Kristian still (@kstill) showed how Xtranormal can be used within the classroom. His class were talking about the use of multimedia (we were told “that’s when there are multiple different media used in one go”) and explained this using movies created in Xtranormal. This could be used for a wide-range of different curriculum areas and you could see people excited by the potential. This is the great thing about TeachMeet, I’d heard of it before, but never really seen it. Now I want to go and play!

Paul Emecz (@emecz) discussed using Studywiz galleries for assessment, discussion and as a general collaborative tool. I understand that this may have alienated some of the attendees, but most of them use Studywiz and some of the principles could be transferred to just using pictures. Some of the pictures showed difficult images and allowing the children to discuss these can be very powerful. As we have mentioned many times on studywiz training, the gallery is by far the best tool. So many uses and so easy to set up!

Philip Griffin (@pilgram) joined us from Reading to discuss using handheld mobile devices in the classroom. The children were using Nokia tablets to aid their writing. Unfortunately the devices they were using are no longer available, but the principle is the same with others and I know some schools are using ipod touches and similar. The quality of their writing was very good and they obviously enjoyed using them!

Helen Caldwell (@helencvital) from our sponsors Vital, talked about the power of green-screening in primary. I have to admit that I was too busy looking at the amazing effects to take note of the software used. I have sent Helen a message and will update this when I find out. The green-screening allowed you to take pictures of children and then change the background from a green screen to another world or a dinosaur or whatever your imagination will allow! This seemed good and people were happy, but then Helen showed the video and jaws dropped. How about changing the background for a whole sequence of animation? We watched as a child swam under the sea. Truly amazing and I wish I paid more attention of how to do it rather than just staring at the screen.

Voicethread is mentioned a lot and I must admit rather sheepishly, I have never played with it. Jo Rhys-Jones (@jowinchester) showed how to use it and I loved it. Voicethread allows you to upload a stimulus such as a piece of writing or artwork and then to add a commentary around it. Jo’s example is here and she has her children discussing a piece of art. She also showed using different languages to commentate on the screen. I must find some time to go and play with it! For more examples, check out Pete’s blog here or David Mitchell’s (@deputymitchell) blog here.

Another tool I’ve seen but am still yet to play with, is Scratch. this lets you create games, move characters around and really bring some excitement to your Control lessons. I know a lot of primary schools use Flowol, but why not throw in some Scratch? Fred Crowson (@fcbsd) showed some possibilities of its use, including animating a basketball move to show in PE when discussing tactics! Fantastic idea! One idea that came from the video stream was using Scratch to create a ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ game in KS1.

Some Scratch helpsheets and guides:

Like I said, these were all truly amazing presentations by some wonderful, inspiring teachers. I would like to thank them all again and hope that they will present next time…or better yet, some of the non-presenters from tmhants will get up instead!