This past year, fourth and fifth grade students at Independence Elementary School in Yukon, Oklahoma, have had the opportunity to participate in an after-school Scratch Club led by STEM teacher Chris Simon. Scratch is a free program from the MIT Media Lab, which permits learners of any age to create games, tell stories, make animations, and much more. In its new 2.0 version, Scratch is entirely web-based, so it can even run on a Chromebook! Yesterday was the final day of "Scratch Club" for students at Independence Elementary this year, and several students shared the reasons why they enjoy Scratch and have loved the Scratch Club. In this five minute video compilation of their ideas, pay attention to how several students mention the importance of "agency" and choice. Many report how they love the opportunity to be self-directed in their learning and to have opportunities to use their imaginations to create. Also notice the way one student references the "hard fun" of programming, which is something Gary Stager talks about often in the context of students learning to code.
Many thanks to Chris Simon as well as Cecil Bowles, the principal of Independence Elementary, for supporting this Scratch Club experience for fourth and fifth grade students. All students at IES were introduced to the Scratch program in the fall, and many chose to attend the Spring Break "Scratch Camp" Chris Simon helped facilitate in March. Scratch Club, however, has provided weekly opportunities for students to not only "go deeper" with their knowledge of programming in Scratch. Perhaps more importantly, Scratch Club has provided a space for students to be encouraged and recognized for their "geek skills" in creating programs, making videos and telling stories with computers. It will be exciting to see where these students choose to apply these skills in the years ahead!
Check out Code.org for more information about getting an after-school computer programming club like the IES Scratch Club going at your school!