Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Teaching Scratch Computer Programming: Lesson 1

Over the next few weeks I will be teaching my class (4th and 5th) all about computer programming through the use of the coding program 'Scratch'. Many teachers feel a little nervous when it comes to teaching programming in the classroom due to a lack of knowledge on the topic. For this reason, over the next few weeks, I will be sharing PowerPoints I have created to teach coding to my class (including video links, key questions and coding activities) along with detailed lesson information for each topic. This means that even if you have no idea what programming/coding is, you should still be able to teach the lesson to your class (even if you are learning alongside your children!).

Note: PowerPoints can be downloaded from the SlideShare website for free, once you sign up as a member. These will include all the resources you will need to teach each lesson.

Lesson 1

Detailed lesson information and activities:

1. Discuss/brainstorm: What is a computer program? Can you name any? What do you know already about coding/computer programming/how computer programs are made? Who does it/needs to use it in their jobs?

2. Watch the ‘Coding for Kids 1: What is Computer Coding?’ video to explain what coding is and what it can create. Discuss new information learned. Offer them the following definition:
‘Coding is where you write/create a list of instructions for a computer to follow. Without having a detailed set of instructions given to it by a human, a computer cannot do anything’.

3. Explain that Scratch is one program (of many) which allows us to make simple computer programs (games/apps/videos/etc). It gives us the tools we need to create a program (just like a carpenter uses a chisel and wood to create a piece of furniture, we use the tools in Scratch to make our own program).

4. Show a example of what ‘professional code’ looks like. Explain how coders use letters and numbers to stand for each instruction they want their computer to follow. Explain how Scratch makes this simpler for children by putting the instructions they are giving to the computer (the numbers and words) into blocks we can snap together. Watch the ‘About Us’ Scratch introductory video. Explain how the video shows them various examples of things other children have made with the program.

5. Open up Scratch on the Interactive Whiteboard or simply use the images featured in my PowerPoint to explain a few basics about the program:
  • What a ‘sprite’ is (the character you see on the screen)
  • That the green flag means go/start the program
  • The red flag means stop/end the program
  • What a script is (the instructions or codes that change the program/makes the character change/move). These ‘instructions’ or blocks can be moved by dragging them onto the script canvas with the mouse and deleted by moving them back to the ‘Scripts’ section.
  • You must put down the:  block (located under the ‘Events’ script group heading) at the start of each project, before you add any more scripts/instructions.
  • Each block/script must be snapped onto the previous block like a jigsaw.
6. Have the children open Scratch and practice: Click the flag, click the stop sign, go into the ‘Looks’ script heading and drag one block onto the canvas. Delete the part again. Go into the ‘Motion’ script heading (What type of instructions are these?), choose a motion block and add it to the canvas. Delete it again, etc. 

7. Explain that the first thing they are going to learn is how to make their sprite move by watching a video tutorial. Have them move the sprite 20 steps forward, 10 backwards, etc. Have a child model how they completed these tasks for the class.

8. As a conclusion to the lesson, give the children 5 minutes to explore the program with a partner and discover something new they can do with it. Have some students teach the class what they discovered if time allows.

This lesson should take roughly 40-60 minutes in total to complete.

Happy coding!

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and excellent webpage to describe how to do programming
    One could read and watch video lesson which are explained in a comprehensive and efficient way. So it is best source to learn programming especially for beginners.