Dec 20 2016
Here I outline how we have used a variety of resources to increase our Year 7 students’ understanding of sequencing and use of loops – as well as having fun and engaging with their learning.
Having reviewed our baseline test at the beginning of Year 7, our Year 7s showed better than expected eSafety, better Scratch understanding, but poorer computing programming and sequencing skills. I looked at several resources online and have used Phil Bagge’s Jam Sandwich making Robot, Stephen Howell’s Scratch Shape Drawing Activity for CoderDojo; Simon Haughton’s Etch-a-Sketch; and Barefoot Computing’s Crystal Flowers (pdf download) to create the following resources:
“Scratch Shapes” scheme of learning – jam sandwich making robot and Scratch Polygons and nested loops
I am really pleased with these two lessons of activities.
The jam sandwich making robot really got a ‘buzz’ going, and students fully engaged with ‘paired’ programming and sequencing (I still am not quite happy with differentiating this – re: lower ability – and will think again next year). The shapes work engaged higher and lower ability students with good stretch for the higher. It also interested the Maths department and will link in next year with ScratchMaths resources. I also discovered the debugging ideas from MIT which I will be showing to the students for the games they make – part of our student assessment sheets requires them to comment/screenshot how they make their games better including debugging.
The timing was perfect… unlike the BBC:Microbits. Some made the snowflake in the last week of term. And adding this unit in meant all students were proficient with scratch in time for doing their games in the holidays knowing how to use Scratch online. For some students, this will make a big difference.
Finally, it gives extra time for all students (maybe 20% of our students have not used scratch before) to log on to and understand how to make scratch programmes before we get onto the game making unit (based on PGonline’s Scratch unit).