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Learning Library Blog 6 resources to engage students in coding with Scratch
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6 resources to engage students in coding with Scratch

By Natalie Rusk and Lisa O'Brien
April 5, 2019
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Learning to code can help students expand their thinking, express their ideas and build creative confidence. How can you help more students realize their potential to express themselves through coding?

Scratch offers a creative coding environment that students around the world are using to make projects based on their ideas and interests. The new version of Scratch, launched earlier this year, provides support for beginners to get started and resources to spark the interest of students who are ready for a new challenge.

Here are six new resources to explore:

1. Get started with video tutorials in Scratch.

The new version of Scratch features easy-to-use video tutorials that show students how to make a variety of interactive projects. For example, they can learn to animate a character, create a story or make a chase game. Each tutorial comes with an educator guide that shows how to organize a class or workshop based on the theme. You can access the guides and other resources on the Scratch Ideas page.

2. Code projects that talk aloud.


Using the new text-to-speech blocks, students can make Scratch projects that talk aloud. For example, students can give voice to characters in a history project, make interactive science illustrations with talking labels or transform a written poem into spoken word. Choose from several voice effects or record your own sounds. To learn more, see the Animations that Talk tutorial.

3. Print the new Scratch coding cards.

Make coding more tangible by printing Scratch activity cards that learners can use at their own pace. Each card features colorful instructions for beginners to start coding with Scratch. The front of the card shows an activity kids can do with Scratch — like making music or using a variable to keep score in a game. The back shows how to put together code blocks to make the projects come to life. Download the free coding cards for Scratch 3.0.

4. Move and interact with video sensing.

Want to interest your students in something new? The video sensing blocks open up a new world of possibilities for students to interact with their projects through body movement. Students can use the video sensing tutorial to find out how to animate a dragon when they move their hands and other dynamic projects.

5. Create projects that connect to the physical world.

Scratch extensions allow students to make projects in the physical world, and code them using Scratch. For example, students can shake, tilt or push buttons on a micro:bit device to interact with their Scratch projects, using the new micro:bit extension and micro:bit cards.

Students can build their own robots and other inventions using Lego bricks, motors and sensors — and then program their creations with the Lego Education Mindstorms EV3 or WeDo 2.0 extensions in Scratch.

6. Access curriculum and activities.

You can find many more online resources to support student learning with Scratch. Creative Computing from the ScratchEd Team at Harvard Graduate School of Education provides plans, activities and strategies for introducing creative computing in the classroom. 

Google’s curriculum, CS First, offers more than 1,000 instructional videos and lesson plans to introduce students to Scratch. Also, visit Code Club to access learning modules that help students create a range of Scratch projects, from chatbots to adventure games.

You can use any of these free resources to spark the interests of students with diverse interests and backgrounds. As students code projects in Scratch, they develop as creative communicators, computational thinkers and empowered learners, key skills highlighted in the ISTE Standards for Students. To find out more about how educators are using Scratch with their students, visit Scratch in Practice. To access additional resources, see the Scratch for Educators page.

Natalie Rusk, Ph.D., is a research scientist in the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. She is one of the creators of Scratch and is the lead author of the The Official Scratch Coding Cards.

Lisa O'Brien is executive director of the Scratch Foundation, which expands creative learning opportunities for children around the world.