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Scratch Group for Maryland
 
The purpose of this group is to bring together Maryland educators who are interested in using Scratch in a classroom setting to learn new skills, reach diverse students, share best practices, and discover or create the best resources for ourselves and our students.
Our Scratch group typically meets on the 4th Thursday of every month (except for months with a holiday conflict*) from 5-6 PM.

Sign up here.

 

Fall 2021 Schedule:

  1. Sep 30: Computational Thinking when Scratching

  2. Oct 28: Creative Connections in Science with Scratch

  3. *Nov 18: Algebra + Scratch = Fun!

  4. *Dec 16: Scratch, Literacy, and World Languages

2022 Scratch meet-ups forthcoming!

 

September Highlights:

Thank you to everyone who showed up for our first Scratch Meet-Up of the year! We had a great time meeting each other and learning a little bit more about how Maryland teachers are using Scratch in their classrooms. The presentation from our first meeting can be found here. This presentation includes images, additional resources, and activities that anyone can use to learn more about Scratch, computational thinking (CT), and the relationship between the two.

During this session, we learned about different ways that Scratch can be used to support student development of CT skills. We first defined what CT might look like and how it can be taught. We then thought about ways that we can connect CT with Scratch. We had a lot of fun practicing CT by writing out step-by-step instructions on how to complete daily activities (like making toast!) and figuring out ways the steps could be represented as Scratch blocks. You can learn more about CT by checking out this CT resource from Harvard and this CT lesson organizer. These resources help explain CT and how it connects to Scratch-centered learning. They also provide additional resources that educators can use in their classrooms. 

We are excited to see our Maryland Scratch group grow and to hopefully meet new teachers in the next meetings to come!

 

2020-2021

May Highlights:

Thanks to everyone who has joined us this year for Scratch Meet-ups! It has been great to work with this community and support Scratch in Maryland! This month, we continued our focus on how to integrate Scratch more equitably within the classroom with a focus on differentiating Scratch learning. The presentation for this month can be found here. We discussed how everyone has a jagged learning profile and how to use Universal Design for Learning to support learners within the classroom. If you are interested in how to use UDL in your computing classroom or activities, check out this TACTICal Teaching Brief on Helpful Strategies for Utilizing the Universal Design for Learning Framework in Computer Science Education. As always, the presentation has many other resources and information that you can check out and use!

We are taking a break from our meet-ups this summer, but make sure to check out summer 2021 professional development opportunities with MCCE including sessions on Scratch programming. We look forward to seeing you in September for another year of Scratch meet-ups! 

 

April Highlights:

Thanks to everyone who joined our meet-up at the new time! We are so glad that more teachers were able to join and we greatly enjoyed our conversation! This month, we focused on how to integrate Scratch more equitably within the classroom with a focus on emerging bilingual students. The presentation for this month can be found here. We discussed the research article “The role of translanguaging in computational literacies: Documenting middle school bilinguals’ practices in computer science” by Sara Vogel and her colleagues. The article highlights ways that students use translanguaging to support their use of Scratch and learning computational thinking. If you want to learn more about translanguaging, check out the CSTA Inclusive Teaching Pedagogies website!

This month we also explored using Scratch in a language other than our own first languages and how to support students to do so including changing the language of the Scratch programming environment adding translation blocks for any text in the project. The presentation has lots of information and resources, so make sure to check it out!

March Highlights:

Thanks to our small but mighty group of teachers who joined us for the March meet-up! The presentation for this month can be found here. This month, we focused on how to integrate Scratch and CS more equitably within the classroom. We discussed the research article “Engaging Equity Pedagogies in Computer Science Learning Environments” by Madkins, Howard, and Freed. Use the linked title to access and download this article for free! It was written with teachers in mind and has some great information for having a more equitable CS classroom. The presentation also has an overview of the article and information for teachers about what equity pedagogies in CS can look like. As always, there are lots of other resources for teachers in the presentation, so make sure to check it out!

February Highlights:

Thanks to everyone who joined our February meet-up! I know it is a busy time to year and a lot of schools are transitioning between learning modalities, so it was great to catch-up with those of you who were able to be here! The presentation for the month can be found here.
This month we talked about integrating Scratch into math classes. We talked about synergies between math and Scratch and some example projects showing them: coordinate grids, drawing geometric shapes, angles and properties of shapes, and formulas like area, perimeter, and volume. To make sure everyone has the skills to use Scratch in math, we talked about how to use operators, variables, and the pen tool. We also discussed the benefits of giving students starter projects like these ones. The presentation has lots of resources for the classroom, so make sure to check them out.

January Highlights:

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the January meet-up! It was great to meet some new Maryland Scratchers and to catch-up with those of you who have been coming for a few months! The presentation for the month can be found here.

This month we talked about integrating Scratch into ELA classes. Tim Dixon, a PGCPS teacher, shared his experiences integrating Scratch into RELA classes and ideas that he has used. We also created a Jamboard brainstorming the skills students need to write a story in Scratch and ideas for integration. A few resource options include: the Scratch Story Guide, Common Sense Media’s article on using Scratch for Digital Storytelling, the Google CS First Storytelling activities, and the ScratchEd posting about Scratch and Literacy.

We ended our time by creating our own stories using a Scratch Sprite & Backdrop Randomizer. This Scratch project starts with a blank backdrop and two question marks, but when you click “Pick” it will randomly select a backdrop and two sprites. Students can use this to do a quick write or get ideas to create stories in Scratch! 

December Highlights:

Since our December meetup would have occurred in the middle of winter break, this month’s meetup comes by way of some Scratch resources! Below are some great Scratch curricula and lessons that you can use in your classroom (there are even some winter activities at the end if you are looking for a pre-winter break Scratch idea!).

Need a place to start? Scratch provides some basic getting started resources. Try giving students a Scratch Coding Card or a Starter Project to get them thinking.

Looking for something more long-term? You might have probably heard about Google CS First and maybe you have used it to teach Scratch in your classroom. CS First is great for allowing students to move through the curriculum on their own, but many teachers have asked for more! If you are looking for other tools and curricula, check some of these out!

ECSNet

ECSNet is a Maryland database of computing resources. There is now a special part of ECSNet that is focused specifically on Scratch Lessons. From this report you can view all of the Scratch lessons that are available in the database by rating, grade level, or whether the lesson is integrated into a subject area! A huge thanks to Kathy Benson for putting this together!

Curricula

Lessons/Lesson Sets

Need some integration inspiration? Check out this list of Scratch Projects Across the Curriculum compiled by the Scratch Ed Team

As you are getting started, check out these CS Teaching Tips for teaching with Scratch. Interested in creating a more equitable computing classroom? There are also Teaching Tips for Reducing Bias and Inclusivity.

Have you seen the CSTA CS Ed Week website? Check out their lesson ideas. They also created an AWESOME set of posters (or trading cards?) with some incredible CS Social Justice advocates and inspirational computer scientists to look up to.

Need an activity before Winter Break?

Hopefully these resources are helpful now and in the coming months!

November Highlights:

Thanks for joining us for our November meet-up! This month we focused on integrating Scratch and computational thinking into science! The presentation for the month can be found here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1B6uwqmF8zcYWLdqUzI8WlG450DrJ3LxO99G90fcfdGY/edit?usp=sharing.

Kelly Mills (a native Marylander!) from Digital Promise shared the Computational Thinking for Next Generation Science Toolkit that she developed in collaboration with school districts across the country. The toolkit showcases “Look Fors” and resources for teachers to integrate all computational thinking practices including algorithms (with Scratch!). If you want to watch the 15 minute presentation she gave, you can find it here.

After her presentation, we brainstormed ways that teachers could integrate Scratch into their science classrooms in the next month. For example, we discussed students making illustrations or models of the food web.

We won’t be meeting during the month of December because of winter break, but we will see you at our meet-up in January! In the meantime, keep your eye here and on your email where we will be sharing Scratch resources for you and your classroom!


As a bonus, here are some Thanksgiving themed Scratch ideas:

  1. Hide the Turkey game
  2. Use this template to create a Turkey and Feather game. Here is a video walkthrough of how to create one game, but students could also create their own variation.
  3. Have students create a project sharing a family recipe that they cook each year for Thanksgiving. You will be amazed at the variety of foods families eat for the holiday!
  4. Teaching Scratch Encore? Modify the create project instructions for the Module 1 create project to tell about a person students are grateful for or wish they could see this socially distanced Thanksgiving. If you are on Module 2, one of the create prompts is already to share about students' favorite holiday!
  5. Have students create a visual gratitude journal: Each day for a week have students write down something they are grateful for. Then, they can create a project showing the things they are grateful for. Encourage students to use speech bubbles, speech to text, or recordings to share about what they are grateful for and make sure their items don't just sit still on the screen, they can be animated! Students can share their projects with their families before Thanksgiving dinner!
  6. Draw a Thanksgiving Food - Add the pen tool from the more blocks section located at the bottom left of the Scratch screen and have students write a program that draws a Thanksgiving food!

October Highlights:

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the October meet-up! We had some great conversations about how Maryland teachers are currently using Scratch and how we can work together to overcome challenges people are facing.

The focus this month was on getting started with Scratch and resources for use in your classroom. The presentation for the month has a lot of links and can be found here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1xmztOJaFAl8N3203MOHvB8VljGfE9znact6kf1r0DXA/edit?usp=sharing.

A few highlights: 

  • Make sure to sign up for a Scratch Educator account at https://scratch.mit.edu/educators/register. Once you have an educator account you can create classes and accounts for your students!
  • One thing teachers have been struggling with is how to use Scratch on mobile devices. We talked about some workarounds to not having all events available for students working on mobile devices. Think about having students remix this project to use the provided on-screen buttons: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/284854162/. There are also other resources in the presentation!
  • Look into the presentation for resources on pages to follow on Facebook and Twitter, teacher groups, and lesson ideas!

We also had fun making projects using the Scratchtober prompt “Upside down.” Check out prompts for the rest of the month at: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/433242236/.

We voted on a new meeting date for November/December which will be announced soon. Stay tuned for details!


September Highlights:

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the September meet-up! It was great to meet some Marylanders who are excited about incorporating Scratch into their classrooms!
Looking for some quick project ideas? We spent part of the meet-up exploring sensing blocks in Scratch using an idea from The Getting Unstuck Archive. Check out our projects in this studio and try out some of these quick project ideas in your classroom!

Dianne O'Grady-Cunniff, dogrady at usmd dot edu
Director, Maryland Center for Computing Education

Dr. Megean Garvin, mgarvin at usmd dot edu
Director of Research, Maryland Center for Computing Education

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Maryland Center for Computing Education
3300 Metzerott Rd. Adelphi, MD 20783 http://cs4md.com
MCCE received initial support from the National Science Foundation, (MSP)2 Grant No. 0831970.