After Hour of code I decided to extend my coding repertoire towards the very young. I was introduced to Scratch Jr through one of my twitter chats #edtechbridge. Many of you have already heard and used Scratch so I won’t go into much detail:
ScratchJr was inspired by the popular Scratch programming language (http://scratch.mit.edu), used by millions of young people (ages 8 and up) around the world. In creating ScratchJr, we redesigned the interface and programming language to make them developmentally appropriate for younger children, carefully designing features to match young children’s cognitive, personal, social, and emotional development.
Basically Scratch Jr. is an introductory programming app that introduces coding as a graphical iconified manipulatives that enables young children to create their own interactive stories and games. Children interact with their characters by dragging together graphical programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing etc. Children can modify characters in the paint editor, add their own voices and sounds, even insert photos of themselves — then use the programming blocks to make their characters come to life.
I am teaching Scratch Jr. to a group of very diverse students; their age range is 4 – 7. That has made me to adopt a very traditional pedagogical model; Master and Apprentice. Our sessions lasts for 60 minutes and I have divided that into three main slots:
- Skill building
During Challenge time students are paired with Master and Apprentice pairs, I then present the challenge for that lesson and let the students to find their own solutions together. Challenge time ends with students presenting their solutions, observations, and asking questions.
During this time students can freely choose their prefered mode, groups, pairs, or flying solo. This is usually related to the provocation by introducing a new skill and then dissecting it.
This is free roaming time. Student very quickly took real ownership of this app and started to create their own jokes, games, and comics with it. My goal is to keep on infiltrating new skills and ideas into their repertoire and see if they will then start to appear in their Sandbox creations.