Scratch programming can be taught with a series of sessions in a computer club or during school time to satisfy large parts of the ICT curriculum. The curriculum here in the UK has many areas relating to ICT which can be satisfied with Scratch including:
- Understanding fonts and graphics to produce a greetings card.
- Control of a turtle with turtle graphics.
- Developing ideas with sounds and graphics to present in a multimedia application.
- Sharing information with animation and music.
- Controlling events by planning, testing, and modifying sequences of instructions.
Many classrooms in the UK have one or more computers in the classroom, as well as the teacher’s computer connected to an interactive whiteboard, allowing computers to be used outside of the computer lab. The whiteboard can be used to access internet and multimedia applications to illustrate classroom topics unrelated to ICT. There is a opportunity here for Scratch to be used to create applications to illustrate topics and bring together cross-curricular and topic-based activities, either with a sample application demonstrated by the teacher on a whiteboard, or as a multimedia application created by the children. This moves us on from using computers just for ICT related activities and aspires to teach children ‘digital literacy’ (Buckingham 2007) where they can combine all of their computing skills to illustrate a classroom topic in the same way that general literacy is used to write up a topic.
Some examples where Scratch can be used in the UK curriculum are illustrated below:
- Simulation. Scratch applications can be created to illustrate a simulation such as a car racing around a track and running out of fuel at a different rate depending on the average speed around the track. Pupils can use and alter an existing application or create their own from Scratch.
- Data Gathering. Scratch can be connected up directly to a device called a ScratchBoard which has sensors to measure light, sound, and other factors from the environment, which can be used to collect data for a science or data gathering activity.
- Robotics. Scratch can be connected up directly to a Lego WeDo device connected to the computer which has a motor and various sensors allowing a simple robot to be controlled with the Scratch programming language.
- ICT. Scratch is a programming language and can be used to create applications involving a high degree of digital literacy and the integration of text, pictures, graphics, and sound, in an interactive application.
- Geometry. Turtle graphics are an established means of teaching children the principles of geometry in a constructivist manner where they learn core principles by experimenting with drawing different shapes using an onscreen turtle.
- Epistemic Games (Shaffer 2008). These games allow children to mimic practises from the professional world in a role playing context whilst building an application. Pupils can role play at being computer programmers, game designers, or multimedia producers whilst creating a Scratch project.
- Art. Children can scan in their drawings and create animations easily accompanied with sound from their own recordings or their favourite MP3 track.
- Music. Simple applications to control activities for a music class are easy to develop in Scratch where the teacher rearranges sprites representing notes on the screen to prompt the pupils to play notes in the correct order for example.