Teachers can use Scratch to teach students just about any coding concept or element of computational thinking. Then, after students are proficient in using it, Scratch can become another tool for demonstrating learning in just about any content area. Through animation, audio, image, and text, students can tell stories, explain concepts, and create art. The Scratch platform can be another option for any project-based assessment or activity -- an alternative to writing, presentations, etc. For coding teachers, Scratch is a great springboard to traditional text-based coding languages like Ruby or Swift.
Scratch has a huge associated community of users and educators (from around the world since Scratch supports multiple languages). Because of this community, everyone from the complete novice to the seasoned expert can find tutorials, answers to questions, projects to remix, and, most important, inspiration to continue building their coding skills and finding new challenges.Continue reading Show less
Scratch (version 3.0) is the latest iteration of the block-based coding language created by MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group. It can be used online or downloaded and used without an internet connection. Like its predecessors, Scratch allows students to learn and put to use all the essential elements of coding and computer science. From creating variables to building functions, students snap drag-and-drop blocks of code together to create programs for animation, digital storytelling, art, math -- you name it. With Scratch, students can also program a variety of peripheral devices (like the micro:bit) for robotics, science, and engineering learning. This latest version of Scratch isn't much different than previous versions, so users won’t have trouble getting used to it. Instead, it’s another iteration of a very powerful learning tool. In addition to the new look and layout, Scratch programmers have new extensions that allow them to include text-to-speech and language translation. For teachers, the most important upgrade in 3.0 is that Scratch now runs on tablets, too.
The Scratch screen is divided into three sections: the stage on the right side (where you see the results of your code in action), the workspace in the center (where you put the code together), and the blocks palette on the left (where you find all the code blocks). Students code the actions of multiple sprites (the different characters) or screen elements and can also add sounds, images, and textual elements to build almost anything.
Scratch is a powerful platform for learning to code because it not only teaches all the essential concepts of coding but can also be easily integrated into almost any subject area. Since most of us can’t transform our classes into coding academies, this ability to integrate Scratch is incredibly valuable. It means students can do meaningful projects that express understanding of novels, historical events, and math and science concepts, while also reinforcing coding and computational thinking skills. As a foundation for learning to code, Scratch removes the obstacles that beginners often find so difficult (syntax, terminology, etc.) but lays the groundwork for those who go on to learn languages like Java, Ruby, or Python.
Key Standards Supported
Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.
Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size.
Identify shapes as two-dimensional (lying in a plane, “flat”) or three- dimensional (“solid”).
Model shapes in the world by building shapes from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.
Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes. For example, “Can you join these two triangles with full sides touching to make a rectangle?”
Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.
Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.4
Recognize and draw shapes having specified attributes, such as a given number of angles or a given number of equal faces.5 Identify triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes.
Partition circles and rectangles into two, three, or four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halves, thirds, half of, a third of, etc., and describe the whole as two halves, three thirds, four fourths. Recognize that equal shares of identical wholes need not have the same shape.
Understand that shapes in different categories (e.g., rhombuses, rectangles, and others) may share attributes (e.g., having four sides), and that the shared attributes can define a larger category (e.g., quadrilaterals). Recognize rhombuses, rectangles, and squares as examples of quadrilaterals, and draw examples of quadrilaterals that do not belong to any of these subcategories.
Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures.
Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, including computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing and reproducing a scale drawing at a different scale.
Draw (freehand, with ruler and protractor, and with technology) geometric shapes with given conditions. Focus on constructing triangles from three measures of angles or sides, noticing when the conditions determine a unique triangle, more than one triangle, or no triangle.
Key Standards Supported
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.