I think that the concept “one size fits all” is the most frustrating idea in the learning system today as it does not give children many of opportunities to individualize their learning.
Building a Lego sculpture, making an original drawing or giving free reins to the students’ imagination are activities rarely done in class nowadays, but filling in the blanks with a set of expected answers is more commonly used.
Now imagine a computer program called Scratch, developed in 2006 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that lets children make up stories, games, and animation. It allows kids to experiment and fail, and it’s through failures that they can learn and progress. In fact, with Scratch, “It’s excellent to fail” note some research scientists.
In fact, they evaluated the benefits of scratch being taught in schools and worked closely with MIT’s Group to identify the specific skills that students would gain from it. Until then, Scratch had been primarily used in after school centers and independently by families to provide their children with an extra programming experience.
Scratch gives kids an outlet they are not getting at home or at school. Scratch is very beneficial for children as it allows them to practice computational thinking. It’s a kind of logical thinking but creative at the same time.” While it’s puzzling to be both logical and creative, in the world of Scratch, the two are inseparable”.
In the classroom, typically, the focus is on a finished product. However, the idea behind Scratch is to build something in a step-by-step fashion, try it out, and if it doesn’t work, you fix it. When the student opens the program, he discovers a simplified workspace, with a series of intuitive shortcuts. It selects the image of their choice within a shared library and then, with one click, can completely rework. This will change the color, the addition of a character, a landscape or a soundtrack. Always with a click, he can animate the scene and incorporate clickable area, which will result in a new image. Once his creation completed, he can share with his comrades. Scratch is special because it is considered to be a visual object-oriented programming language. This means that codes can be created by putting blocks of specific actions together instead of text. “You don’t have to worry about forgetting a comma, forgetting a bracket, or closing a bracket which other programming languages do have.
Scratch offers a unique design tool for learning to identify problems and find solutions. Creating a Scratch project requires thinking, finding an idea, then figuring out how to divide the problem into steps and implement them using Scratch programming blocks designed to be manipulable. Students can dynamically change pieces code and see the results immediately. Throughout the design process, children are engaged in experimenting and iterative problem solving
Scratch fosters creative thinking, an important skill in the fast changing world of today. Scratch involves Youngers in seeking innovative solutions to unexpected problems, not just to learn how to solve a predefined problem, but be prepared to find new solutions to new challenges.
For five years I have been animating a club called «Les Fada du Scratch» it took place every Tuesday after lunch at a computer lab and it’s opened to all motivated students from 11 to 15 years. The aims of this club are to
- Demystify computer programming.
- Discover the potential of creative and innovative coding
- Inspire children to learn coding
- Sensitize parents about the digital issues through their children.
Scratch has inspired me, and I did my best to spread my knowledge to other teens at my school. Later in the year, we regularly held contests with special specifications to see who could create a game in an allocated time.
We also participated to different local and national coding competitions; unfortunately we did not win any price. The emulation and the group dynamic increased the students level and developed unsuspected skills. I hope I have inspired many students to get into Scratch and the programming world.
Article written by Mohammed Oubella