Scratch Creative Computing: Storytelling

Overview

Essential Question: How can we express ourselves through an animated story reusing and remixing other’s work?

Grade Band: 6-8

Devices: Laptop/Desktop

Pacing: 16-20 hours of instructional time depending on length of period and transitions between activities.

Introduction

This unit focuses on helping students develop their storytelling and remixing abilities through a variety of hands-on and off-computer design activities and by providing opportunities for students to work collaboratively and build on the creative work of others.

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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.

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.

Materials

For all of the activities that use Scratch, laptops or desktops with Internet access are needed. If Internet is not reliable, teachers can download Scratch onto the computers beforehand. For the unplugged (no computer) activities, teacher will need to provide writing utensils, and markers or crayons. All activities come with handouts that should be printed for the students, one each. Instead of the handouts, teachers can also go to the Scratch Creative Computing Guide website and print out the Student Workbook.

Student Outcomes

This unit starts students off as CS Explorers, learning the Scratch programming language through a number of activities designed to pique their curiosity. Through their time experimenting students will gain an understanding of sequences, events, remixing, and debugging.

Students will/I can Statements

Through their exploration, Students will:

  • interpret the components, patterns, and characteristics of a tangible computing problem or idea. (Explorer, Analyze, Abstraction)
  • interpret the clarity and completeness of instructions. (Explorer, Analyze, Algorithms)
  • examine the commands and rules of a programming language. (Explorer, Analyze, Programming)
  • ask how a problem or idea can be broken down into components and imagine how they can build on one or more of those components. (Explorer, Prototype, Abstraction)
  • plan, create/use, and test a set of instructions that completes a tangible task. (Explorer, Prototype, Algorithms)
  • create a tangible or digital program with the commands and rules of a programming language. (Explorer, Prototype, Programming)
  • explain why and how a set of instructions completed a tangible task. (Explorer, Communicate, Algorithms)
  • explain how programming language commands and rules were used in a program. (Explorer, Communicate, Programming)

By the end of the unit, students will take what they learned and become CS Creators by making a story in Scratch that they have created themselves. Through the activities in this unit, students will practice analyzing problems, prototyping projects, and communicating their understanding. In addition, they will gain experience with algorithms, programming, and abstraction.

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.

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 programs.
  • 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

Prerequisites and Pre-Assessment

There are no prerequisites for this specific project. If students have used Scratch before, there are several activities that could be enhanced or removed to accommodate a diverse classroom. Teachers should have taken the time to explore the Scratch language, but they need not have any expertise.

Implementation Guidance and Reflection

The order of the days below is recommended through the Scratch Creative Computing Guide, but teachers are free to adjust order/length of each activity as they see fit for their classroom. The curriculum provides the basic tools and sequence for getting started and for finishing this particular project, but if your students would like to dive deeper into any of these topics, please give them the opportunity. As students are engaged with their activities, give them ample time to explore and play, but make sure they stay on task.

Day-by-Day Planner

Each day is approximately 45–50 minutes in length, including opening and closing transition times.

Day

Objectives

Teacher

Students

Resources

1

Getting Started (1/2):

Students will start learning Scratch and thinking of projects they could make.

Teacher shows the Scratch overview video or provides example projects to explore.

Teacher gives students ideas of projects they could make.

Teacher provides models for filling out their journals.

Students watch the Scratch overview video or explore sample projects.

Students imagine their own Scratch creation.

Students start a design journal for documenting their process and reflections.

Introducing Scratch

Design Journals

2

Getting Started (2/2):

Students will practice using Scratch and giving feedback.

Teacher assists students in their explorations by providing them ideas.

Teacher divides students into groups and models the feedback process.

Students engage in an exploratory, hands-on experience with Scratch.

Students give and receive feedback on design ideas and works-in-progress.

Scratch Surprise

Critique Group

3

Exploring (1/4):

Students will be able to use sequences to break complex ideas into simple instructions.

Teacher models the activity with one or two volunteers.

Students learn to express a complex activity using a sequence of simple instructions.

Programmed to Dance

4

Exploring (2/4):

Students will build and iterate on programs given constraints.

Teacher assists students in following the steps of the first activity.

Teacher helps students understand what each of the blocks does.

Students create a dancing cat in Scratch by following a tutorial.

Students create a project with the constraint of only being able to use 10 blocks.

Step-by-Step

10 Blocks

5

Exploring (3/4):

Students will learn the creative possibilities of Scratch and hone their debugging skills.

Teacher assists students in exploring projects on the Scratch website.

Teacher works with students to create a list of strategies for debugging projects.

Teacher coaches students who get stuck by helping them realize the power of working through their problems.

Students curate a collection of three or more Scratch projects in a Scratch studio.

Students investigate the problems and find a solutions to five debugging challenges.

Students explore CS concepts such as sequencing through testing and debugging.

My Studio

Debug It!

6

Exploring (4/4):

Students will understand how to use a wider range of Scratch blocks.

Teacher gives students ideas of what they could add to their projects to make them more personal.

Teacher provides students time to work in pairs or independently.

Students create an interactive digital representation of their personal interests in Scratch.

About Me

7

Animation (1/4):

Students will gain understanding of events and parallelism.

Teacher has students act out the ideas of events and parallelism to model their meanings.

Teacher helps students experiment and iterate in building their projects.

Students are able to explain what events and parallelism are and how they work in Scratch.

Students create a program that combines interactive sprites with interesting sounds.

Performing Scripts

Build-A-Band

8

Animation (2/4):

Students will gain more fluency with blocks and the paint editor.

Bring out the artistic side of students by challenging them to keep adding more.

Students express their creativity by completing an arts-themed challenge.

Orange Square, Purple Circle

9

Animation (3/4):

Students will gain a deeper understanding of loops and costumes in Scratch.

Teacher models an example for the students and helps them when they get stuck.

Students express their creativity by completing an animation challenge.

It’s Alive!

10

Animation (4/4):

Students will learn more debugging strategies as well as more familiarity with costumes and sound.

Teacher works with students to create a list of strategies for debugging projects.

Teacher shows students how to use sounds in Scratch and how they can combine them with animations.

Teacher provides students time to work in pairs or independently.

Students investigate the problems and find a solutions to five debugging challenges.

Students create a music video project that combines animation and music.

Debug It!

Music Video!

11

Storytelling (1/6):

Students will continue to practice using events and iterating.

Teacher gives students examples of behaviors their characters can have and pushes them to try new things.

Students experiment with defining behaviors for characters using the “Make a Block” feature.

Characters

12

Storytelling (2/6):

Students will continue to develop understanding of events through reusing and remixing.

Teacher pushes students to understand the different syncing actions (timing and broadcasting) and decide upon which option they prefer.

Students explore different strategies for syncing interactions between sprites by remixing a joke project.

Conversations

13

Storytelling (3/6):

Students will continue to experiment and iterate with events and parallelism.

Teacher helps students come up with ideas of what their project could be.

Students create a project that incorporates changing backgrounds.

Scenes

14

Storytelling (4/6):

Students will learn more debugging strategies.

Teacher works with students to create a list of strategies for debugging projects.

Students investigate the problems and find a solutions to five debugging challenges.

Debug It!

15

Storytelling (5/6):

Students will collaborate with each other through remixing drawings and stories.

Teacher ensures student understanding of remixing and working collaboratively.

Teacher provides ways for students to add to each other’s work.

Teacher shows students the benefits of working in pairs.

Students create drawings collaboratively by remixing each other’s work.

Students create a story in Scratch by remixing each other’s work.

Students experience the concept of pair programming.

Creature Construction

Pass It On

16

Storytelling (6/6):

Students will continue to refine their story projects with their partners.

Teacher assists students if they have problems they cannot fix and give them ideas of what else they can add to their projects.

Students work with their partners to debug and add additional elements to their stories.

Pass It On

17

Reflection:

Students will reflect on their work and think about what computational practices they’ve used.

Teacher helps students think back on what they have learned up to this point and connect what they have learned to what they used.

Students use the information in their design journals to reflect on their projects.

Reflection

18

Peer Assessment:

Students will assess each other's work and give constructive feedback.

Teacher models best practices for giving feedback.

Teacher assesses student projects and gives feedback.

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

Rubric

Critique Workbook

End-of-Unit Performance-Based Assessment

The end-of-unit performance task for this unit is a story that students spend two classroom days working on. On the first day, students practice remixing by making stories and passing them around and adding to their classmate’s stories. On the second day, students add any finishing touches they would like to add to their story, in addition to reflecting on their work using a Reflection Workbook.

Students present their work to the class by holding a showcase to share their work with the rest of the class, and during this showcase they will be assessing each other’s work using a Critique Workbook. While students do this, the teacher will use the Rubric to assess the stories as well.

Some time should be spent at the end of the class or the beginning of the next where students can look through their feedback and make changes or improvements to their project. In addition, students should be asked to think about the scripts they made for their stories (e.g., “How did we use the order of the blocks to control our sprites?”), and about the process of remixing (e.g., “What did I have to keep in mind when I remixed another student’s work?”).

Authors

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

Reference

Scratch Creative Computing Guide