Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Got An Itch?

AASL, American Association of School Librarians, Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning 2010, under the heading Media Sharing, using the following Standards for the 21st-Century Learner 2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view and assess, 3.3.4 Create products that apply to authentic, real-world context and 4.1.8 Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning, selected the web 2.0 application, Scratch.  Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.  The Scratch project is based upon research supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number 0325828.

This is a programing language intended for ages 8-16 but can be used by younger students with assistance.  It welcomes those desiring to create stories, music, art and games that are interactive.  These are meant to be shared.  According to the site:
As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.

Users are greeted by a Home page chock full of choices; down the center are Featured Projects, Projects Selected by...(a Scratch member chosen by the Scratch Team to curate), Projects from Scratch Design Studio, What the Community is Remixing, What the Community is Loving and What the Community is Viewing.  Off to the right are:  Collab Camp (creating Scratch projects together with other members around a common theme), Scratch Day, May 19, 2012 (events for users of Scratch), ScratchEd ( a page specifically for educators), Scratch Design Studio, Video Tutorials, Featured Galleries, Popular Tags, Social Media (read the blog and follow Scratch on Twitter), Scratchers' Wiki and Community Stats.  Across the top of the page are tabs for further exploration and information, projects, galleries, support, forums, about or language.

To begin download the correct version of Scratch (at no cost) for your operating system. For the Windows version it is about 33MB.  The next step that I recommend is to read online or by downloading and printing the fourteen page Getting Starting Guide.  (For additional information there is a twenty-three page Scratch Reference Guide  and a Scratch FAQ.)  Once you have played around with this app, I highly suggest viewing the Scratch Reference Guide.  It explains each of the components clearly; giving the user a greater understanding of how this software functions.

When opening Scratch the workspace looks like the screen capture to the left.  First practice by moving a block (farthest column on the left) into the Scripts area (next column over).  If you click on the block the sprite in the large screen area will perform according to the block.

Within the blocks area there are eight different tabs of actions that can be taken.  Some of the blocks have additional selections that can be displayed by clicking the down arrow such as the play drum shown here.  After adding a couple of motions and sounds a control can be added; they suggest the forever control which needs to wrap around all of the blocks.  At any time to run a stack click on any block.

You can always stop by clicking on the miniature stop sign in the far right hand corner of the screen.  A block from the control section can be added telling the script to run whenever the green flag next to the stop sign is clicked.

Each object in Scratch is called a sprite.  Beneath what I call "the stage" are three stars for adding sprites; from left to right paint a sprite, upload a sprite from a file or get a surprise sprite. 
When you import a sprite from your computer you have the option of editing it as shown.

By clicking the sounds tab in the scripts column you can record your own sounds or import files (MP3, AIF or WAV).  These sounds can be selected from a block and moved into the script area.

When saving a Scratch it goes to your computer rather than in a cloud.  When you share a Scratch you login to your account at their website. 

If creating an account at the Scratch site, a user is required to give a username, password, birthdate, email address, gender and country.  Your state and city are optional.  Upon registering you are asked to comply with the Community Guidelines.

Here is my test, as corny as it is.  Time will fly by as each user discovers the endless possibilities available using Scratch. I can't believe it took me this long to try this out.  Students will love using this site and software; this is learning at its best and it's fun to boot.

Scratch Project

Intro to Scratch from ScratchEd on Vimeo.

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