Fifth grade Scratch unit is up and running (and pre-assessment findings…)

Fellow Baldwin Scratch Club runner Bob Gillig and I have been working with the Baldwin 5th grade teachers to conduct a Scratch-based unit in their classroom. The idea is to “sneak” computer science and Scratch exposure into the regular curriculum by having the kids do a social studies report in the form of a Scratch project built from templates we built for them. This eases the novices into Scratch while allowing the kids who have more prior experience to serve as empowered/expert peer guides. We kicked it off this past Friday with an intro session which the kids seemed to enjoy.

I have a particular interest in helping kids see computers as creative tools. So, as part of the kickoff we gave the kids a brief attitudinal survey as a pre-assessment. The survey asked their gender and prior experience with Scratch, then asked them to what degree they agreed with the statements “I can use computers to make things” and “I could be a computer programmer.” Graphs of the results are below.

Scratch 5th Grade Pre-Assessment Findings: Survey results from 44 5th graders at Baldwin School, Cambridge, MA.
Scratch 5th Grade Pre-Assessment Findings: Survey results from 44 5th graders at Baldwin School, Cambridge, MA.

I thought the very strong correlation between prior Scratch experience and feeling that “I can use computers to make things” was a great sign that Scratch is successful in its role as an empowering creative tool.

Also notable is the unfortunate correlation between gender and agreement with “I could be a computer programmer.” Here’s hoping our Scratch unit helps even that out in some small way. We shall see when the post-assessment data comes in!

Harvard Magazine article surveys Cambridge ed tech efforts

Harvard Magazine Cover - Rebooting the ClassroomThe cover article of this month’s Harvard Magazine was about Ed. Tech with a nice Cambridge/Harvard focus. The article, Computing in the Classroom by Sophia Nguyen, focused heavily on Scratch (and the ScratchEd community) as a champion of constructivist learning. She definitely put her finger on the things I love about Scratch. And it was great to see folks like Karen Brennan and Michelle Chung of HGSE and Ingrid Gustafson of CPSD get coverage for the excellent work they’re doing both delivering Ed Tech and strengthening the Ed Tech educator community. (Though I hope Ingrid doesn’t get in trouble with CPSD for her “building a path to nowhere” quote!)

And in the 15 minutes of fame category: I attended the ScratchEd Meetup that Sophia Nguyen visited while writing the article, and I’m the person she refers to as being there because I “wanted to learn strategies for running an after-school club.” Go Baldwin Scratch Club!