On the last Tuesday of term, our junior school students had a whole day set aside for a variety of extension and enrichment activities. I was asked to do ‘something on computers’ for a hand picked bunch of 28 students in years 3-6.
I had been fortunate a couple of months ago to attend a workshop at Inspire2011 (highly recommended BTW!) on the use of Scratch – a programming language that’s suitable for younger students. So I started to think about what I could possibly do, and came across these fantastic resources by Amanda Wilson.
These resources were aimed at exactly the right audience, and saved me a massive amount of time.
I started the day with an overview of programming, talking about how it was important to follow instructions, that as ‘computer nerds’, we needed to follow instructions, just as the computers do. I had a few students ‘program’ each other to walk around the room blindfolded. One student ‘the programmer’ had to program the other student ‘the computer’ to walk around the room using words like walk, step, left, right, more, less, turn etc. I’m really glad I did this, as I think it made life much easier when we came to programming the scratch ‘sprite’.
Before long my ‘nerds’ were creating scripts that would have sprites moving all over the stage, creating patterns, changing the stages, sprites etc. It was really encouraging to see the level of excitement as the students experimented, and tried new things.
I could tell that everyone enjoyed the day from the chorus of “Awwwww” when I told them all it was time to finish. The great thing about Scratch is that it is freely available, and I know that already some of my nerds have been pestering their parents to download onto their home computers so they can do some more programming. Exciting huh?
Can’t wait for the next one!
There’s a story about the whole day and some photos on the school website.