Tuesday, March 17, 2009

3rd Grade ESL Students and Scratch


I work in the Middle School now but I started as an Elementary teacher and getting the chance to work with Elementary students is always such fun for me.  We recently did a project with the 3rd grade ESL students at our school that was fabulous.  The students were working on a thematic project of Following Directions.  This is especially difficult for ESL students as not only are they learning a concept but also a new language (we had ESL beginners and intermediates).  I got the opportunity to work with the students for an hour and a half block in one of our computer labs. 

I introduced Scratch to them (on a carpeted area in the middle of the computer lab) and asked them - How do you give computers directions?  We had a great quick discussion and a couple of the students had even used Scratch before.  Programming and directions all came out in the conversation and game designers and how they worked!  I then asked the students – How do you learn how to do something new on a computer?  Students talked about how they played with something to learn it.  I think this is so huge.  We don’t take advantage enough of our students ability to just jump in and try something. 

head scratch I showed students how to do some basics and then sent them to their computers.  Students were encouraged to play with the program for the next 15 minutes or so.  I then brought students back to the carpeted area and we talked about what they had learned so far.  I showed them a little bit more and sent them on their way again for 15-20 minutes.  By this point students were so engaged in what they were doing.  As questions arose that they whole group wanted to know we kept coming back and having discussions and mini how-tos that were directly related to what they wanted to know.  At the very end I reserved the last 20 minutes to show them the games and how to edit them.  The last 5 minutes we came together again and had a closing discussion about what they had learned, giving directions, and (most importantly to them) how to download Scratch.

It was just one of those special moments – the kids loved Scratch, had so much fun and learned so much in the process.  I’d love to hear your experiences with Scratch!

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Image: 'head scratch'
Image: Scratch Logo

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