Almost a year ago to the day, I was really nervous about teaching my first middle school computer class. Not only was it a new age group for me, but the subject was also a little beyond my wheelhouse. Luckily, I stumbled upon some great curriculum. MIT’s Scratch provided simple block programming and even better, they knew how to make it work in the classroom. So, I borrowed lessons from Scratch’s “Creative Computing” curriculum and reworked them into a blended format. The images below are
screenshots from my Moodle course. **All the little creatures on the assignments are Scratch sprites. In total there are 6 units whose projects and coding concepts get progressively more difficult. Integrated into the unit themes, students are also given opportunities to de-bug code, complete group work, and give constructive feedback.
For my “not-so-final project,” I added five assignments to the unit “Scratch Surprise & Sharing/Remixing” and revised one assignment that was already in place. This unit immediately follows the creation of the students’ Scratch account. My goal with the additional assignments was to address an issue that I’d run into last year. Students had a tendency to overlook the little details as they wrapped up a project, but two of those details were fundamental to engaging on Scratch: sharing your project and giving credit when you remix or borrow. I purposely placed the new sharing and remixing assignments at the beginning of the semester when I first introduce Scratch so that students would be aligning with the Scratch “Community Guidelines” from the get-go. Not only did I want to introduce and reinforce a procedure for students to appropriately share and remix projects, but also help them meet the norms of this digital community.
Scratch Surprise – This lesson was already in place, but I went back through to add images and match the language to the assignments that follow. The new sharing assignments use this project as a base, so I needed to clarify exactly what I wanted to see in this project before moving them to the next step.
Sharing on Scratch – Before writing up this assignment, I didn’t know that Scratch projects fell under a Share-Alike license. So I got to drop a little Creative Commons knowledge, but not too much because, you know, attention span. For me, knowing that the projects had this license made it all the more important to encourage students to share their work because it’s what will allow the Scratch community to grow. I was so excited, I had to highlight it.
Sharing Reflection – I think the big question on this reflection is number 2. In the “Sharing on Scratch” assignment I basically told them that other people are going to mess with their precious projects that they spent hours and hours working on. That can be a tough pill to swallow and instead of pretending that it’s all cool (which I usually do), it’s important to let them vent their fears/hesitations about loss of ownership.
How to Remix and Give Credit – Since everything shared on Scratch has a Share-Alike license, you’re able to remix any project you find on the site. Even though the license doesn’t require attribution, it’s part of the Community Guidelines that when you remix or borrow from another Scratcher, or pull media from elsewhere on the web, that you give them appropriate credit. The note about pirated music was actually a late addition to the assignment. After talking with the other middle school teachers this week, it was clear that we needed to be consistent between classes on how students use online media for their classwork. As for the second video about how to give credit, I recorded a screencast with a sample project that remixes someone else’s work and uses royalty free music.
My First Remix – This project tries to scaffold the three skills that the students just learned: how to build; how to share; and how to remix.
Online Media – I’ve never used the “Choice” assignment before, so I’m curious to see how it plays with the group. My goal is to use the results for a bigger class discussion about copyright, ownership, and maybe a little IP. They’ll each answer individually on the Moodle assignment. Then I’ll put them in their respective result groups to develop some some arguments for their choice. When they have something ready to share, we can tackle the question from a couple different angles to test their choice (What if you buy the music and then distribute it? What if a million other people have already shared it?). We should be able to loop back around to the “no pirated music” topic, so they’ll know it’s not just me crushing their pirate-y dreams.