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Scratch Programming

Computer programming has changed considerable since the days of FORTRAN and BASIC.  Today, tools like Scratch can be used to engage and teach even young students fundamental programming concepts.  As described on their About page:

Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.

Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design.

We have developed a six day Scratch unit for 7th and 8th grade math.  One class period of each six-day cycle is devoted to Scratch, effectively spreading the lessons out over a six week period.  During their course of study, students learn simple terminology, are introduced to the principles of object-oriented programming, and create original animations and games that are uploaded to our Scratch Web Gallery.

scratch1.jpg

Unit Details/Resources
The complete unit is available for download as a zip file and includes objectives, activities, materials, and homework.  Alternatively, the major handouts can be found in this unit summary and the “lecture notes” have been combined into a Slideshare presentation:

Scratch is much more powerful than most users realize and a six lesson unit, even when taught over an extended period of time, provides students with a good overview that leaves room for future exploration. Scratch enthusiasts should visit the Scratch websiteLearn Scratch, and Collen Lewis’ Scratch page for additional project ideas, and encourage their students to learn a bit of programming; with Scratch, it really can be fun and easy!

UPDATE: April 2010

Sergio González, a math teacher working at the Luis de Camoens school in Ceuta, Spain, recently updated and translated our six day algebra-geometry unit into Spanish, created video tutorials for some of the lessons, and assembled everything  into a zipped package that can be imported into a LMS such as Moodle.  The complete unit is now available for download in Spanish as a zip file and this open access sample class illustrates how Scratch could be presented in Moodle.