How I Use It
I have used Scratch in my classroom for the last 3-4 years. As I'm in a middle school, I use it as to introduce coding to my sixth grade students. When I started using it we used the free downloadable software which students required in order to complete some simple projects that taught them how to create sprites and then animate them along with sounds or music. In the last year or two Scratch is now an online platform that allows mys students to access their work and my examples from home and school alike. It also gives them the opportunity to share their work more easily with everyone and anyone. Additionally, students and I can tag their projects so they're more easily found searching within the Scratch online community. I also create classes so students can submit their projects into specific locations to keep them fully accountable.
My introductory lessons begin with students creating their own characters that are then animated to make them dance. This introduces them to the basics of controls within programming. Follow up lessons from have included biographical projects and integrate more advanced controls to expand upon their basic programming skills.
I have also had students create mazes and games that incorporate controls along with loops and conditionals. Students who make it to this level are exposed to a solid foundation of programming concepts that can then be scaffolded into more complex programming languages that are taught in the seventh and eighth grade.
Scratch is an amazing educational tool that can be used to introduce students to coding without having them learn a new language. It is versatile and complex enough to introduce advanced programming concepts yet simple enough for young students and beginners, alike.
The online community allows for sharing and commenting which is amazing for both students and teachers, although open commenting can allow for the possibility of inappropriate nonsense so teachers and parents might want to keep close tabs to moderate what's up there.