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Creative Programming With Scratch at NCCE 2011

2011 March 6
by Hélène Martin

I enjoyed presenting about Scratch at this year’s Northwest Council for Computer Education conference in Portland.  My slides and materials for the 3-hour workshop can be found here.

The opportunity to share ideas with motivated, forward-thinking educators is always inspiring.  I learned a lot from them about the challenges that they face, different kinds of technology courses being offered and ways that they thought Scratch might end up being used in their curricula.  The group was composed primarily of middle school teachers and educational technology specialists which I found really exciting — getting students working with computing at that early level is very important.  Several of them were interested in emphasizing computer science vocabulary and sharing with students connections between Scratch and more common programming languages — yes!

Some of the teachers seemed overwhelmed by the end saying that they had a hard time seeing how they could meaningfully teach the material with just the taste I had given them in three hours.  I can’t blame them — anyone would find it a bit silly to send someone off to teach a biology course after a mere three-hour introduction.  In fact, even though we all get several chances to interact with biology material in K-12, getting a biology teaching position generally requires years of post-secondary study in the field.  Is it reasonable to treat computing any differently?

Short-term, I’m so excited that a few more instructors will now be getting their students to program using Scratch.  Long-term, I hope I can find ways to provide more training than a too-short 3-hour workshop!

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