Marina’s Scratch Funhouse by Marina

July 26, 2021


Marina’s Scratch Funhouse

How can computational thinking be authentically integrated into writing workshop? People usually say that computational thinking is more connected to math and science, but I think that the inclusion of computational thinking, computer science, and coding into a writing unit will open a tremendous amount of doors for young writers who may have never considered the possibility of Scratch as an entry point for written expression.

When narrative writing, specifically play-writing, is introduced to students, what if students were able to use Scratch to support the writing process – brainstorming, composition, revision, editing and publishing? I think that this would be a powerful way for students to have their words come to life through the animated characters, engaging backgrounds, and even interactivity for their audience. Not only that, it seems as though parts of the writing process are similar to computational thinking and it would be worth the time to work with students to notice the similarities and differences.  Some people might say that writing has a specific structure and way that it needs to be done in an paragraph format or an essay. This makes me think that it would be important to emphasize that structure lives within computational thinking as well in the form of algorithms and careful attention must be given the sequence of blocks and commands so that the story is cohesive and focused. It may be beneficial for many writers to have the visual component side by side while they compose so that they can clearly identify places or moments that they are glossing over or they do not make sense. This is an area that can be challenging for writers of all ages and experiences.

Can a writing unit be taught using the language of computational thinking rather than the language typically associated with the writing process?  Algorithms are at the heart of strategy instruction and task initiation and completion. If students are given a writing task from the start (write a play), with support and guidance from an educator, they can decompose the task into smaller pieces to establish the ordering that needs to be followed to get from brainstorming to publishing. With Scratch, this may look like – Select a background for the setting, choose two sprites as characters, identify a conflict that the two will encounter, etc. Instead of brainstorming, planning and drafting, the writer could say that they they are decomposing, From this, I also believe that revision could be explained as abstraction – We look back at the story and take out what is unnecessary

Scratch Surprise – I could see the language within the blocks posing a challenge to all learners. Not only is coding a language in itself, the written language has vocabulary that may need to be explicitly taught to students. However, I think students would enjoy Scratch as a playground to experiment with and perhaps discovering on their own what each block means and does which in turn would support their independent building of vocabulary in an implicit manner.

I did not feel limited by the 10 blocks. It was a fun challenge. On my first round, I used 11 blocks and upon review, I realized that there was a block that I could eliminate and still get the effect that I wanted.

I like tutorials and use them often but I often feel impulsive and impatient when I am waiting. I found that pausing and working through a tutorial side by side helps me to be more productive. It’s hard to compare the projects. I feel that even though there were specific objectives, they were still open ended enough to create something unique.

The Scratch program shows that I like to have fun with new tools. I tried out a bunch of new blocks and sprites including using the drawing tool for to draw a sprite and uploading a png file to add a sprite. Thanks for that tip Tom! One new thing that I learned while creating this project is that I can change the effect of a sprite. For example, I had arrows appear to point to a purple balloon after I said that my favorite color is purple. I used a mosaic setting.