August 12, 2014

SCRATCH for Teachers at MIT Media Lab

In the beautiful facility on the 6th floor of the glass and metal structure that house the MIT Media Lab I joined an invigorating group of 250 international educators here to learn more about using Scratch in learning settings. Over coffee I reconnected with Maureen Tumenas who always has great ideas and latest teaching explorations to share. I met a 17 year old high school student from Mexico who is a budding coder who also teaches coding to "junior school" students. We talked about the issue of encouraging more girls to explore computer science and programming and apparently in Mexico they offer a girls only option after school which I am doing for the first time this winter.

Mitch Resnick started us off with a keynote on where we've been and where we are going with Scratch. One of his key points was that the concept of learning to code is limited, but the true power is coding to learn. We teach writing as a literacy, how can we teach exploring with coding as a literacy? The 4 Ps he emphasizes are Projects-Peers-Passion-Play.


They are generous with breaks to collaborate and meet educators, so far I have met people from Mexico and Italy, as well as Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and New Hampshire. The weather is drawing us outdoors to enjoy the Boston Skyline.


The morning session was presented by the authors of the newly released Scratch Curriculum Guide which is available from: http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu/guide/. They are working on a younger learners' guide as well as a set of student pages. The title "Creative Computing" stays with the theme of the purpose of Scratch being the individual creative element supporting exploration and not just procedures. 

During the session I learned that one of the ways to have students reflect on their program is to add comment blocks into the program and that I can set up a "studio" to collect projects online.

The afternoon session focused on math concepts that can be explained by creating projects in Scratch. The presenter's resources are at http://sites.jcdsboston.org/scratchmath/. The group discussion included ideas about connecting projects to various subject areas.

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