Scratch

Scratch logoScratch is a free visual programming language designed especially for ages 8 to 16 but is used by people of all ages (Scratch , 2016).  It allows anyone to use Scratch online on the website as well as in an offline editor. Designed by the MIT Lifelong Kindergarten Group, Scratch is a type of  “block programming which uses graphical blocks to represent program commands (Crook, 2009).”

Price Free
Type of learning Constructivism, Gamification , Discovering Learning, Cognitivism, Connectivisim
Ease of Use ★★★✩✩
Privacy ✩✩✩
Accessibility ★★✩✩✩
Class Size
  • An educator with a teacher account can create multiple classes.
  • The number of students each classroom can accommodate is unclear
ISTE Standards for Students Empowered Learner, Creative Communicator, Global Collaborator, Digital citizen, Knowledge constructor, Innovative Designer, Computational  Thinker

Scratch serves as an introductory tool that aids students’ advancement in the more sophisticated programming languages. It is used in many school districts to promote learning for academic subjects such as math and science and can be a great tool for constructive learning and projectbased learning.

The Scratch project has received financial support from the National Science Foundation, Scratch Foundation, Google, LEGO Foundation, Intel, Cartoon Network, Lemann Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation( Scratch, 2016). It also accepts public donation at this website:https://secure.donationpay.org/scratchfoundation.

***View the Storybird Video Transcript***

Accessibility: Scratch is available in more than 50 languages and counting (Scratch, 2016)Scratch offers no accommodation for hearing or visually impaired students.  However, on the website it includes several examples of how we can enable physically challenged students to use Scratch 2. http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu/stories/using-scratch-engage-students-disabilities

Access:

  • Online Version: To run Scratch 2, you need to be using (1) a Mac, Linux, or Windows computer; (2) a version of Adobe Flash Player released on or after June 15, 2016; (3) a relatively recent web browser: one of the latest two versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari (Mac or Windows only),Edge (Windows only), or Internet Explorer 10+(Windows only). If your computer doesn’t meet these requirements, you can try downloading and installing Scratch 1.4, which you can still use to share projects to the Scratch 2 website.
  • Desktop version: Scratch 2 Offline Editor: You can install the Scratch 2.0 editor to work on projects without an internet connection. This version will work on Mac, Windows, and some versions of Linux (32 bit). For Mac Users: the latest version of Scratch 2.0 Offline requires Adobe Air 20
  • No tablet version for Scratch, but ScratchJr is available for Ipad as well as Android tablets ( Scratch, 2016).

Privacy Policy:

  • Scratch collects personal information such as name, gender and email addresses. For teacher account, Scratch also requires additional information such as the name of the organization, user’s role in the organization, birthdate, and phone numbers.
  • If you are using the online version, Scratch has access to all the information, including your project,  and has the right to modify or remove your project data if the content is inappropriate.
  • Scratch may share your information with third parties in certain circumstance.
  • Children under 13 need parents or instructor’s email to register for an account.
  • “Viewing the existing projects available on the Scratch website, or modifying and testing any modification without saving it requires no online registration (Wikipedia, 2016).”

Scratch as a learner-centered tool: Scratch 2, along with its extensive website*, makes an excellent learner-centered tool  because it provides opportunities for students to actively construct their knowledge in an environment where their cultural backgrounds and pre-existing schema are taken into consideration. Students can pick any topics to work on and construct their programming knowledge from interactive tutorials as well as through trial and error. Designing with Scratch is a highly engaging activity that motives learners of all ages.

Students can use Scratch to design anything they want in various forms such as games, animation, or movies. This provides great motivation for learning. With one-click, a user can view the result of a partially-constructed product, allowing and promoting constant self-correction and analytical thinking.

Website: On its website, Scratch provides extensive resources, such as step-by-step interactive video tutorials, to guide beginners get started, allowing users  to self-pace their learning. The website also has subpages designate for parents and educators. In addition, there is a forum for new scratchers as well as a featured studio to showcase products designed by users.

Scratch & the SAMR Model

Scratch can be used in many different ways. For example, in a math class, you can ask your students to use Scratch to learn about and show their understanding of a coordinate graph.

  • Substitution: Students use Scratch to draw a coordinate graph (rather than drawing a graph on paper). 
  • Augmentation: Students can use Scratch to create an introductory video to introduce coordinate planes.
  • Modification: Students use Scratch to design interactive coordinate graph game to play. They can share their projects with each other and critique each other’s design.
  • Redefinition: Students use Scratch to create a step by step tutorial animation on how to draw a coordinate graph. Users need to interact with the animation, following prompts embedded in it. When they finish all the steps, they produce a coordinate graph.

Learning Activities

ScratchEd, a member of the Scratch family, has many inspiring examples organized by grades, content types, curricular area, and language.  To access the website, click the link below: http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu/resources.

Here are some examples of projects made by Scratch users:
Screenshot from ScratchEd website                Screenshot from ScratchEd website

Screenshot from ScratchEd website        Screenshot from ScratchEd website

Resources

How to Use Scratch

For the most comprehensive how-to guide, download the CreativeComputing guideline.

For General Users:

  • To use without registering:
    • Find “ Create” on the upper right corner and click
    • Follow the step by step tutorial to start creating
  • To use with registering, click “Join Scratch” on the upper right corner
  • Fill out the information as shown in the animated GIF below

GIF created by Lian Duan

For Educators who wish to set up  their online Scratch classes:

Step 1: Fill out a “Teacher request form” at the address below, and follow the steps as shown in the GIF: https://scratch.mit.edu/educators/register   

Note that it might take 24 hours to confirm your account.

GIF created by Lian Duan

Step 2: Watch a tutorial video made by Scratch to learn how to set up classrooms step by step: https://youtu.be/7Hl9GxA1zwQ

Also, you can find a written explanation on teacher account on ScratchWiki, which is a subpage on Scratch website: https://wiki.scratch.mit.edu/wiki/Student_and_Teacher_Accounts

Research

Crook, S.(2009). Embedding Scratch in the Classroom. ScratchEd. Retrieved from http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/scratch_in_the_classroom-10.pdf

Scratch (2016). Retrieved from https://scratch.mit.edu/

Scratch : Programing For All.  by Resnick, M, Maloney,J. , Hernández A.M., Rusk,N. Eastmond, E.  Brennan, K.  Millner, A.  Rosenbaum, E. , Silver, J.;  Silverman, B.  & Kafai, Y. Communications of The Acm, November 2009 ,vol. 52 ,no. 11 . Retrieved fromhttp://web.media.mit.edu/~mres/papers/Scratch-CACM-final.pdf

Wikipedia (2016) : Scratch (programming language) Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scratch_(programming_language)