This week, we learnt to use the program Scratch to create a story, game or animation. Scratch is a free programming software developed by the MIT Scratch Team and is designed to “help young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively”.
My first impressions of the Scratch website is that it is user-friendly and attractive. The main page contains ‘featured projects’ and other animations which the ‘community is loving’ and current animation themes. It drew me to click on one of the ‘featured projects’ to have a first look at what Scratch is about. This page reminds me of the YouTube homepage where users can easily access ‘suggested’ videos with just one click.
Browsing through the Scratch website, I was highly impressed that Scratch has established an online community platform for educators, researchers and parents to share their Scratch stories and experiences called ScratchEd. There is a wide range of resources shared by community members which are categorised under educational level, content type, curricular area and language. Of particular interest, there are approximately 600+ videos available under the preschool, kindergarten and elementary levels.
Apart from the tutorial video made available on the Blackboard, I viewed a number of tutorials and examples on YouTube to help myself familiarise with the functions on Scratch (just search ‘scratch animation tutorial‘ and you will find loads of videos!). I decided to create a game based around a hungry monkey looking for bananas in the jungle. As I was creating my game, I found Scratch easy to use in terms of its functions and user-friendliness. I could build scripts by using the ‘drag-and-drop’ gesture to place functions into the positions I want. What I found most challenging behind creating my game is determining the logic behind the game in order to achieve the intended outcome. For example, I had to work out how to make the banana change position as soon as the monkey touches the banana and making this change a random one.
My Scratch game can be found here: http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/32264456/
My ‘Monkey and Bananas’ game is relatively simple, which is more suitable towards preschool students. It requires students to be able to demonstrate proficiency in moving the mouse-pointer towards the ‘changing’ bananas. To make this game more challenging, I could set a time limit to the game and add other ‘obstacles’ such as a tiger chasing the monkey, so scores are reduced if the monkey touches the tiger.
Overall, I found Scratch to be a great resource that can be implemented in the classroom environment. However, teachers should first familiarise themselves with the program and how this resource can be used to assist in their digital pedagogies (Howell, 2012). Teachers can create story-telling animations and games that can be applied to many subject areas. Students can develop skills and abilities depending on the level of education, such as proficiency in using mouse-pointers and keyboard words in accordance with the required response, timing, critical thinking of logical sequence as well as understanding basic terminology and meanings of the program. From simple scripts in preschool to more complex ones in primary school, teachers can also set tasks for students to create their own game with room for creativity. This is all part of the process to help students develop the skills they need to be digitally fluent.
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, Australia : Oxford University Press.
Scratch (n.d.). About Scratch. Retrieved from http://scratch.mit.edu/about/
ScratchEd (n.d.). Resources. Retrieved from http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu/resources