Tag Archives: Scratch

Hack Your Window with Scratch

Scratch programming is one of the most versatile tools for creativity that my students have ever used.  I am constantly in awe of the ideas people come up with using this free coding platform that is available to anyone online.  One of the most recent suggestions that is perfect for those of us going a bit stir crazy during the quarantine is to “hack your window.”  Basically, you take a picture of any of the windows in your residence, use the Scratch drawing tools to delete the panes, and add what you would like to imagine seeing outside your window.  This post from Eduard Perich gives specific instructions for creating an animated scene.

Capture
image from “Futbol Per La Finestra” by UrielMR8 on Scratch

If you are not familiar with Scratch, or would like to start by just seeing what others have done along this theme, here is a link to the Scratch studio where creators are sharing their programs.  You will notice that there are submissions in many different languages, which could be fun for translation lessons!

Knowing many of my former students, they would probably enjoy the entry, “Don’t Let the Corona Get In,” which I’ve embedded below.  It’s a game where you have to try to click the images of the coronavirus before they get too large and overcome you.

One way to help students learn quickly in Scratch is to allow them to copy a program and remix it.  You can do this by clicking on any shared program, choosing, “See Inside,” and then making a copy.  You will need to be logged in to Scratch in order to do this.

There are many, many resources out there for getting started with Scratch.  This is one of the basic ones, but keep in mind that the platform has been updated since then so some of the screen shots may look different than the current version.  You can also do a search of this blog for ideas to use with Scratch and/or Scratch Jr.

Makey Makey Book Tasting

So I’m not saying that I decided to follow Barb Seaton (@barb_seaton) because she has a bulldog in her profile picture – but it is definitely evidence that we are kindred spirits.

Since I know there are many librarians who follow this blog, I wanted to share Barb’s recent tweet about a Makey Makey Book Tasting project that she did.

The link to Barb’s Instructables post gives great directions on how you can use Scratch, pressure switches, and a Makey Makey to create an interactive display of book choices for students.

There are many potential students-centered uses for this idea, such as using student-created book blurbs or designing containers for the pressure switches and wires.  Scratch has made it extremely easy in the last couple of years to program for use with Makey Makey, and Barb has a link to a video to help you out in her Instructables post.

Here are some of my other posts on Makey Makey in case you are not familiar with this tool.  And here is a list of my posts on using Scratch and Scratch Jr.  Also, if you don’t follow her already, @gravescolleen is the Queen of Makey Makey projects.  She wrote 20 Makey Makey Projects for the Evil Genius, and works for Makey Makey creating content.

 

Creativity Land

For her Genius Hour project, one of my 5th grade students questioned what the world would be like without creativity.  Since she used Scratch for last year’s project (on Sleepwalking), I told her that she needed to present her information in a different way, but that she could still use Scratch for part of her project.  Whereas she used Scratch to give her information about her topic last year, she decided to use Animaker this year.  However, she chose to use Scratch for the “interactive” portion of her presentation (I always insist that there be a part that involves the audience), and blew me away with the complexity of her game.  She designed “Creativity Land,” which includes five interactive games that help students learn the information she gave in her videos.  This. Was. Not. For. A. Grade.  She did this purely out of her love for learning and creating.  English is her second language – maybe third, because imagination is certainly her first.

If you don’t do Genius Hour with your students, you are missing out on something amazing.  And so are your students.

creativityland
Click here to play this game by Olivia T.

Genius Hour Alpha Testing

One of the biggest changes I made to our Genius Hour projects this year was to insist that the students do practice presentations for small audiences before they do the “real thing” – kind of like the “Alpha Testing” often used on products before they go on to “Beta Testing” and then full release.  In the past, my students have always given one presentation, and this was the summation of their learning.  After watching Austin’s Butterfly last year, I realized that this was unfair to all of us.  Even though the students were getting peer and teacher feedback throughout the Genius Hour process, their final products were, well, FINAL.  A most of those final products had room for improvement. Some of them had mansions of rooms for improvement…

A few weeks ago, I wrote, “What to do when Genius Hour Sucks,” because some of the practice presentations deeply disappointed me.  Now, many of my students are ready to try again after making revisions based on class feedback, and I’m not feeling defeated anymore.  They really took the suggestions that were made to heart, and have shown great improvement.  A few of them are ready to share with a bigger audience – classmates in their homerooms, students in younger grades, administrators, and parents. Some of them will need to do a third practice, but have still made great strides.

It’s kind of incredible to see students make such an effort – particularly when they are not graded on these projects.  I believe they are motivated by their interests in the topics they chose, and by the knowledge that people outside their usual sphere will be viewing their presentations.  I also believe that our systematic feedback and time for multiple opportunities to practice has made a huge difference.  In school we often tell students what they could have done to improve – and then give them no time to try out those improvements.

Want to see one of the student products?  Here is a Scratch presentation that one of my 4th graders did on sleepwalking.  (She did a verbal introduction to our class, telling a personal story about why this topic was important to her.) Just press the green flag, and you will see what she came up with.  Her product has been Alpha and Beta tested, and is now ready to share with the world!

For more Genius Hour Resources, click here!

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 7.19.06 PM
Screenshot from Scratch “Sleepwalking Show” by Olivia O.

Scratch + Dot Day = Global Learning

International Dot Day is just a week away (9/15/14!) and I wanted to share with you this great project I saw posted by Louise Morgan last year.  It is a collection of Dot Day projects from all over the world presented in Scratch.  (If you are unfamiliar with Scratch, the free programming site from M.I.T., click here for more info.  Also, Scratch Jr. is now available for free as an iPad app.)  I love the way this project integrates programming with showcasing the creativity from students in many different states and countries!

Screen Shot of a Scratch Dot Day project.  Click here to read more and play the game!
Screen Shot of a Scratch Dot Day project. Click here to read more and play the game!

Here is this year’s post that I wrote about the upcoming International Dot Day.  There are lots of ways to get involved!  Join us for this celebration of creativity and uniqueness of children around the globe!

What Happened During Summer Vacation

 

image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/reinvented/9397115956/
image from: https://www.flickr.com/

Not everyone is obsessed with reading education blogs or following Twitter as I am – especially over the summer.  I’ve noticed this blog’s stats have started growing since the beginning of August, which probably means educators are starting to return to work and might be looking for resources.  For today’s post I thought I would do a short round-up of some of the changes and updates that my readers may have missed over the summer.  This is, by no means, an exhaustive list.  It’s just something I brainstormed in the doctor’s waiting room the other day 😉

Socrative – My favorite student response system has now switched completely over to the 2.0 version (and I like it). Here is info on the switch.

Tellagami – The free app is virtually useless now, as there is no longer customization of characters or Text-To-Speech.  For those, you need to purchase the Edu version for $4.99.  You can read more about my disappointment in this change here.

Google Drive – There is a new interface that might take a little getting used to.  Here is one article that points out some of the new features. Here is a Google Drive Cheat Sheet.

Google Classroom – I signed up, but still haven’t delved into it.  Here is a good introduction from Edudemic.  And, here is another resource from te@chthought.

Scratch Jr. – For those of you with classroom iPads who might want to teach programming to young students, this free app, released this summer, is a definite must-download.

Made with Code – Speaking of coding resources, Google launched Made with Code over the summer –  a site specifically directed at getting females interested in this field.

Thinglink Video – Sign up here to participate in the Beta version of interactive video creation with Thinglink. Here is a post on ways to use this great new feature in education.

Padlet – Formerly known as Wallwisher (that’s so last year!), this great online tool has now added a new grid option to better organize all of those notes.  Here’s the lowdown from Richard Byrne.  And it has a Chrome extension (I don’t know if that’s new, but I just found out about it).

PixelPress – I originally posted about PixelPress Floors, an app that allows you to draw your own video game, in June.  They now have lesson plans for educators based on the Design Thinking Process.

Kid President – In case you missed it, everyone’s favorite inspirational politician now has a TV show on Hulu! Find out more on this blog post.

Lego Research Institute – I was so excited about this, I tweeted it out last week!  This Lego set, featuring 3 female scientists, is now available for purchase ($19.99).  Unfortunately, they are currently sold-out online- and I can’t find any indication on the website if they intend to restock.

Voxer – This may just be the next new Twitter for educators.  I haven’t tried it yet, but there has been a lot of buzz about it over the summer. This post includes information about this “live messaging app.” According to Pernille Ripp, these are the reasons you should be voxing.  Here are some uses for Voxer in the educational setting.

Yes, They Have No Bananas

One pretty standard piece of inventory in a Maker Space seems to be a product called MaKey MaKey.  I posted about the MaKey MaKey and its potential for creativity in April of this year.  If you ever see one demonstrated, chances are that someone will be using it to play a banana piano, or a Play-Doh piano, or even a human piano.  But there are far more uses than just as a piano.

I ran across this Flickr album posted by Josh Burker (@JoshBurker) that pretty much shows every instrument in the orchestra integrated with MaKey MaKey.  Josh had the opportunity to be the “Maker in Residence” for the Westport, Connecticut Public Library for a month this summer.  As you can see from his Flickr album and this video, you can do a lot with cardboard, conductive tape, MaKey MaKey, and Scratch – especially if you are a kid with an endless imagination and a bit of adult guidance.

My absolute favorite piece is the bird.  You will find a video on the 2nd page that details the creation of the bird and its numerous amazing abilities. The 11-year-old girl who came up with this brilliant device is as articulate as she is innovative.

I am really inspired to challenge my students to find a unique way to use the MaKey MaKey when we do this year’s Global Cardboard Challenge.  Since we only have one for our classroom, I plan to have a contest and whoever proposes the best idea will get to use it for their game.  Josh Burker’s collection of images will help the students to see the amazing potential of this tool.

image from: Josh Burker on Flickr
image from: Josh Burker on Flickr