Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shredderman: Secret Identity

After a visit from author Wendelin Van Draanen, my library did a series of after school programs each based roughly around one of her books.  This program came from the first book in her Shredderman series.  In the book, the main character creates a webpage with his superhero-type alter ego flying across the screen.  So we decided to introduce children to some basic animation using Scratch, a graphical computer programming language.

Scratch is a free computer language created by MIT.  Go to http://scratch.mit.edu.  It is done on your internet browser so no downloading is needed.  You must create an account in order to save your work, but you can get started without an account.

After going over the four areas of the Scratch interface, I handed out a step by step lesson for the children to follow at their own speed.  I used a lesson I found (and slightly altered) at Edutopia.

Of the 42 students (from grades 3 through 6), about half of them followed the lesson.  For the most part, this half had no clue how to do any programming.  The other half pretty much did their own thing.  This second half broke into two camps.  We had some who used Scratch before. We also had some who were just investigating the various commands and backgrounds and sprites available to them.

I had a lot of fun with this program.  I must admit, before it started I was terribly nervous.  I had just learned some basics about Scratch before agreeing to do this program.  I still only know the basics and that was evident while working with some of the children.  Now I need to figure out what I will do for the next Scratch class in the Spring.

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