April 7, 2010

Lego Digital Designer, then Scratch

Our Building Leadership Team has been reading Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind". In the book Pink talks about a cultural need for people who exercise creativity and have an interest in design as we head into a future that has many unknowns and a reality that many jobs will be outsourced or replaced by devices. In the chapter titled Design he writes,
Design--that is, utility enhanced by significance--has become an essential aptitude for personal fulfillment and professional success...as more people develop a design sensibility, we'll increasingly be able to deploy design for its ultimate purpose: changing the world. (p. 70)
With those thoughts in mind we have been spending time on technology applications that expect students to be creative, collaborative and original in their thinking. After a very brief introduction, 4th grade students used Lego Digital Designer to create models and characters. The next step was to move to MIT's Scratch program. Working in pairs the students used the "Getting Started" packet from the Learn Scratch site. It was interesting to observe the issues some had following directions carefully to learn the twelve introductory concepts. From there students are saving their individual or collaborative projects and heading in a variety of directions. For a more thorough description of teaching Scratch to students in the elementary grades I recommend Bob Sprankle's Bitbybit podcast #84.

Next week we will have a few 8th graders from our Middle School come to help the 4th grade students. Some of them have joined the MIT community of Scratch collaborators and have spent considerable time at home designing projects. It will be great to have their help and inspiration.

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