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Scratch Creative Computing: Storytelling

Developed by the ScratchEd team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

The “Big Idea”

Building on other people’s work has been a longstanding practice in programming, and has been amplified by network technologies that provide access to a wide range of other people’s work. An important goal of creative computing is to support connections between learners through reusing and remixing. The Scratch authoring environment and online community can support young designers in this key computational practice by helping find ideas and code to build upon, enabling them to create more complex projects than they could have created on their own.

Choose Your Own Adventure

This unit focuses on helping students develop their storytelling and remixing abilities through a variety of hands-on and off-computer design activities, providing opportunities for students to work collaboratively and build on the creative work of others. The activities in this unit help students develop deeper fluency in the computational concepts of events and parallelism and the computational practices of experimenting and iterating and reusing and remixing. Each capacity-building activity is designed to help students build up storytelling projects by discovering new blocks and methods for programming interactions between sprites and backdrops, culminating in a Pass It On project and peer assessment/critique.

Unit Overview

This unit is broken up into three sections corresponding to three units in the Scratch Creative Computing Guide: Exploring, Animation, and Storytelling. The Exploring and Animation sections can be skipped or adapted based on student background.

Learning Objectives

Exploring

Animation

Storytelling

Students will:

  • build on initial explorations of the Scratch environment by creating an interactive Scratch project
  • be introduced to a wider range of Scratch blocks
  • become familiar with the concept of sequence
  • practice experimenting and iterating while creating projects

Students will:

  • Be introduced to the computational thinking concepts of loops, events, and parallelism
  • Become more familiar with the concepts of sequence
  • Experiment with new blocks in the Events, Control, Sound, and Looks categories
  • Explore various arts-themed Scratch program
  • Create an animated music video project

Students will:

  • Gain familiarity in and build understandings of the benefits of reusing and remixing while designing
  • Develop greater fluency with computational concepts (events and parallelism) and practices (experimenting and iterating, testing and debugging, reusing and remixing)
  • Explore computational creation within the genre of stories by designing collaborative narratives

Key Words, Concepts, and Practices

Exploring

Animation

Storytelling

  • Experimenting and iterating
  • Testing and debugging
  • Sprite
  • Motion
  • Looks
  • Sound
  • Costume
  • Backdrop
  • Tips window
  • Remix
  • Interactive collage
  • Pair share
  • Loops
  • Events
  • Parallelism
  • Control
  • Broadcast
  • Scripts
  • Presentation Mode
  • Bitmap
  • Vector
  • Animation
  • Gallery Walk
  • Reusing and remixing
  • Make a block
  • Backpack
  • Stage
  • Pass-it-on story
  • Pair programming
  • Scratch screening
  • Design demo

Suggested Sequence

Activities

Objectives

Session 1:

Getting Started

Introducing Scratch

Design Journals

Students will:

  • Be introduced to computational creation with the

Scratch programming environment by watching the

Scratch overview video or exploring sample projects

  • Be able to imagine possibilities for their own Scratch-

based computational creation

  • Start a personalized design journal for documenting their design process and reflections

Session 2:

Getting Started

Scratch Surprise

Critique Group

Students will:

  • Engage in an exploratory, hands-on experience with Scratch
  • Divide into small critique groups in order to give and get feedback on design ideas and works-in-progress

Session 3: Exploring

Programmed to Dance

Students will:

  • Learn to express a complex activity using a sequence of simple instructions

Session 4:

Exploring

Step by Step

10 Blocks

Students will:

  • Create a dancing cat in Scratch by following a step-by-step tutorial
  • Experience building up a program by experimenting and iterating
  • Create a project with the constraint of only being able to use 10 blocks

Session 5:

Exploring

My Studio

Debug It!

Students will:

  • Investigate the range of creative possibilities with Scratch by exploring some of the millions of projects on the Scratch website
  • Curate a collection of 3 or more Scratch projects in a Scratch studio
  • Investigate the problem and find a solution to five debugging challenges
  • Explore a range of concepts (including sequence) through the practices of testing and debugging
  • Develop a list of strategies for debugging projects

Session 6:

Exploring

Independent work time spread across multiple periods

About Me

Students will:

  • Become familiar with a wider range of scratch blocks
  • Be able to create an open-ended Scratch project that is an interactive digital representation of their personal interests

Session 7: Animation

Performing Scripts

Build-A-Band

Students will:

  • Be introduced to the concepts of events and parallelism
  • Be able to explain what events are and how they works in Scratch
  • Be able to explain what parallelism is and how it works in Scratch
  • Create a program that combines interactive sprites with interesting sounds
  • Develop greater fluency with sequence, loops, events, and parallelism
  • Practice experimenting and iterating in building up project creations

Session 8: Animation

Orange Square, Purple Circle

Students will:

  • Express their creativity by completing an arts-themed challenge
  • Gain more fluency with Looks blocks and the paint editor

Session 9: Animation

It’s Alive!

Students will:

  • Express their creativity by completing an arts-themed challenge
  • Gain more fluency with Looks blocks and the paint editor

Session 10: Animation

Independent work time spread across multiple periods

Debug It!

Music Video!

Students will:

  • Investigate the problem and find a solution to five debugging challenges
  • Explore a range of concepts (including sequence and loops) through the practice of testing and debugging
  • Develop a list of strategies for debugging projects
  • Be able to create a project that combines animation and music by working on a self-directed music video project
  • Gain more familiarity with sprites, costumes, and sounds

Session 11:

Storytelling

Characters

Students will:

  • Experiment with defining behaviors for characters using Scratch’s Make a Block feature
  • Gain more familiarity with the computational concepts of events and parallelism and the practice of experimenting and iterating

Session 12:

Storytelling

Conversations

Students will:

  • Explore two different strategies for synchronizing interactions between sprites (timing and broadcasting) by remixing a joke project
  • Develop greater familiarity with the computational concepts of events and parallelism and the practice of reusing and remixing

Session 13:

Storytelling

Scenes

Students will:

  • Be able to create a project that experiments with changing backdrops, like a story with multiple scenes or a slideshow
  • Gain more familiarity with the computational concepts of events and parallelism and the practice of experimenting and iterating

Session 14:

Storytelling

Debug It!

Students will:

  • Investigate the problem and find a solution to five debugging challenges
  • Explore a range of concepts through the practices of testing and debugging

Session 15:

Storytelling

Independent work time spread across multiple periods

Creature Construction

Pass It On

Students will:

  • Be introduced to the computational practice of reusing and remixing by contributing to a collaborative drawing
  • Be able to create a Scratch project that tells a story by reusing and remixing the work of others
  • Experience pair programming by working in pairs to develop a collaborative storytelling project

Session 16:

Reflection

Reflection

Students will use the information in their design journals to reflect on the computational thinking practices they’ve used to create their project.

Session 17:

Peer Assessment

Rubric

Critique Workbook

Students will use the critique group protocol and the computational thinking rubric to assess each other’s work.