In her book, Teaching as a Design Science, Diana Laurillard (2012, pp. 2) states that ‘too often technologies are key drivers of education, though their development is rarely driven by education’. And that’s one of the reasons I like Scratch so much, as it has been developed for the sole purpose of educating students about the fundamentals of computer science and programming. In my role as ICT coordinator, I encourage the use of Scratch throughout upper primary (Key Stage 2).
Recently, my Class 5 students completed a Scratch Project. This required them to create a “catching game” in Scratch in which one sprite had to catch a group of other sprites. The students had the opportunity to play a catching game example, and then discuss what they liked and disliked about the game. From there they had the freedom to create any game they could imagine based on this concept. As their games developed, the students made their games more interesting by adding score, high score and time variables. I also asked them to make sure they used free to use or share music and sound effects and a game over screen. Students mainly used music from the Free Music Archive and Royalty Free Music website - and some even created their own! The Sound Bible website is also great for finding royalty free sound effects.
In the process of creating these games, the students had to complete a write up about their game based on the key parts of the design cycle (Design > Implementation > Evaluation > Investigation). For each stage, students had to include screenshots, which showed illustrated examples of how the game had developed, including the graphics and code used. The best approach I have found for students to do this is for them to be developing the game in Scratch and at the same time writing up the project. In this way, the students can quickly switch between the different tasks and this helps them to write up a better reflection.
Below is an example of a Scratch Project produced by a student called Sophie back in the UK. Along with an explanation of the design cycle, I like to show this to my students from the beginning to give them a better idea of the standard of work that I expect:
In order to promote assessment for learning, I have also created an assessment ruberic. I use this to mark the students work (by highlighting the approrprate standard the student has achieved), but I also ask students to complete this beforehand (highlighting in a different colour the standard that they think they have achieved), so that they can clearly see any areas where that need to be improved. The assessment ruberic can be downloaded below:
The most important thing, I think, to get the most out of students is to keep them enthused about the project. With a Scratch project like this, it’s important to remind the students that they are game designers – what they’re doing in making the game, and the process of writing about the development of the game, is what real game designers all over the world do. As a teacher, I particularly enjoyed working with my students on this project, as they quickly developed a range of skills and all students produced working games as their final product!
As I distribute most of my work for students using Google Classroom, I have made this quick video to help students who are unsure about how to upload their work in Classroom: