Lower Key Stage 2 Scenario

Introduction

Outcomes

  • Researched a topic linked to their curriculum.

  • Planned a script to be included in their Scratch project.

  • Understood some of the basic features of Scratch software and used it to create a presentation in the form of a conversation between two characters.

  • Shared their completed projects with others.

  • Assessed their own work and the work of others. 

Software/app/hardware choices

Please note that there are two different versions of Scratch.

The (old) version (Scratch 1.4) is downloaded and installed onto a Windows or Mac laptop. It can be downloaded here - http://scratch.mit.edu/scratch_1.4). Speak to your school technician about getting Scratch installed onto your school PCs.

The new version (Scratch 2.0) is an online resource. You can find it at http://scratch.mit.edu. To access saved files, students will need to login with a username and password. Being an online resource has the advantage that students can login at home and continue working.

However, given the possible issues of relying on an online app, we have chosen to base the tutorials in the scheme on the older version for now. All of the Scratch activities will work with the online version - in fact, it has some extra features not in the older version - but the interface is slightly different.

Keywords

  • Program - a sequence of instructions that a computer can understand and carry out 

  • ​​Code - ​ commands that a programmer writes to make a program. 

  • Sprite - a charater or an object that usually does something (example - girl, boy, clown, ball, cat, duck, bat, etc..)

  • Costume - Use this to change the look of a sprite or to dress it up.

  • Blocks - They tell a sprite what to do such as move, play music or react, you use these

  • Scripts - A series of instructions run from top to bottom.

  • Stage - Where you see your stories, games, and animations come to life. (right column)

  • Backgrounds - by changing this you can change the appearance of the stage .​

Computing National Curriculum Links

  • design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts

  • use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs; work with variables and various forms of input and output

  • use logical reasoning to explain how some simple algorithms work and to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs​

eSafety/Digital Literacy Considerations

When using images taken from internet, learners should be made fully aware of copyright.  ​There are many websites which provide royalty free images.

If learners intend to share any presentations/projects outside school, they may wish to consider keeping them as anonymous as possible ie not naming the project after themselves or mentioning their own names in any audio.​

Cross Curricular Ideas

  • ​​​History or Geography - Scratch software is a truly cross curricular tool so could be used to create a presentation aboit any aspect of these subjects

  • Literacy - bring script writing to life!

Before you Start

 

If you have access to iPads in your class, you may also wish to explore some of the age-appropriate apps:

 

If your school has a subscription to Espresso Coding (a separate subscription) or to 2Simple 2Code (as part of a Purple Mash subscription), both services provide high-quality guided tutorials that will introduce learners to key terminology.

Finally, as far as possible, be consistent in your use of computer science languages as you work through the activity with your children. In particular, make (correct) use of the word algorithm as frequently as you can. Here is a video which you may wi​sh to use to explain the meaning of algorithm to your class.​

The Big Picture

In this activity, the children will use Scratch to create a simple conversation or presentation. In the resources here, we will look at the principles of creating this type of program in Scratch. One of the great things about this type of exercise is that it can be applied to almost any cross-curricular theme - in history, geography, science - or to support learning around a poem, book or story.

To support you and the children in understanding this type of Scratch project, we will first look at an existing conversation created in Scratch (based around a scene from Little Red Riding Hood), and will extend this program to add in new parts of the conversation and spoken narration.​ We will then look at a process for planning your own project (and at how we can source and import media) before creating the project itself.

 

Opportunities for extension activities, and for adding interactive elements to the project will be identified. Finally, we will look at sharing and evaluating the project.

Key Questions

  • ​Do you understand how to use the following commands to create a simple conversation between two characters?

    • when clicked

    • say

    • wait (and how to add a number of seconds to make the conversation flow in turn) 

  • Do you understand the term 'de-bugging' and have you been able to confidently 'de-bug' your project?

  • Do you understand how to add audio to accompany the text? 

    • is the audio clear with limited background noise?

    • does it contain expression and different 'voices' for the characters?

  • ​​Have you been able to successfully end the conversation?

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Awareness

 

Plan

Before you begin the main activity, here is a video introduction to the Scratch interface that explains the purpose of each of the four main regions of the Scratch window:​

Looking at an existing project

To familiarise you and your class with the key commands and structures to create a conversation using Scratch, we will look first at an existing conversation. The example we will look at is the famous finale from Little Red Riding Hood:

​             "My, what big eyes you have, Grandma" / "All the better to see you with, my dear" ...                    

and so on ...

To help you to visualise how the conversation is put together have a look at the following diagram (you may wish to import this image into a SMART Notebook slide):​

As you can see, the concept is a simple one. Each character follows their own sequence of commands (their own algorithm). While the first character speaks, the second character waits. When the second character speaks, the first character is waiting. In the example above, all of the wait times are the same, but if a spoken line required longer (to enable the viewer the time to read it), the wait time of the other character would be increased accordingly.

You can see this simple program in action by opening up the Scratch file itself: Click here for the Red Riding Hood demo file.  To open the file, open Scratch 1.4 and click onto the File menu and Open. Once it is open, click onto the green flag to watch the program run:

Extending the conversation

You may wish to now challenge the children to extend the conversation to its conclusion (i.e. get to the 'teeth'). Remember that the colour of commands in Scratch tells you which of the 8 sets of commands to look at to find that command (i.e. which of Motion, Looks, Sound, Pen, Control, Sensing, Operators, Variables to open up and explore). In our case here, we are using the wait command (from Control) and the say ... for ... command (from Looks).

Can the children complete the conversation successfully? What challenges / issues did they face? This may be an ideal opportunity to introduce the idea that they will soon be creating their own version of a conversation - highlight that the planning process of that is going to be important if the timings of speech and waiting are going to match up successfully. 

Adding spoken audio

To enhance the Little Red Riding Hood project, let's add our own audio recordings. This is a fun way to really bring the project to life.

​Once this is done, watch back the children's work on the class whiteboard. (Children will need to save their Scratch files to a shared location on the your school network or Learning Platform). While watching back the projects, be on the look out for mistimed or misplaced commands. This would be an ideal opportunity to introduce or reinforce the concept of debugging- i.e. that programmers make mistakes in their programs and have to work out what the problems are and how to fix them. (In my experience, many children are familiar with the idea of glitches in video game as small issues / problems. Essentially a bug is simply a general term for a glitch).

By the end of this introductory exercise, the children should be more confident in their basic use of Scratch to create this type of program. They are now going to use their skills and understanding to create their own example.​

Extension/Differentiation

For those children requiring support with this activity, it may be that you provide them with the sample file and ask them to replicate this (or at least the example file with parts of the code pre-created).​

 

For those children who need extending, it may be that they have little teaching input - give them a file containing the sprites and see whether they can work out how to create the conversation.

Plan

Deciding on a question that they would like to answer in their presentation

Before we start creating our own presentation, we need to decide what the topic for this presentation is going to be. We are going to structure the presentation as a conversation between two characters. One of these characters is going to ask the key questions about the topic to the other.

The topic could be something the children have been learning from school - a history, science, geography or PSHE topic for example - or might be based on a recent school trip or visit to school by a guest speaker. We will be importing our own background image(s) into the presentation. These may have been sourced from the internet (bearing in mind copyright issues) or may have been taken with a school camera or iPad.

As far as possible, I would suggest that the questions the children base their presentations on are:

  • Sufficiently probing and open-ended to be interesting and challenging - i.e. focussed on the 'why' as well as the 'what'

  • If possible, originate from the children themselves.

Good questions might be:

  • "Why did the Aztecs perform human sacrifices? Why did they feel they were OK?"

  • "How is life different in India than in the UK? Will it always be different?"

  • "What are five simple rules for staying safe on the internet, and why is each one important?"

 

Planning a presentation

The planning of the presentation might require three distinct parts:

  • A research phase / mindmapping phase, in which the key points are identified

  • A scripting phase, in which these key points are structured into a sequence of shorter questions and answers.

 

The research phase may involve use of the internet or text books. You may wish to use mindmapping software such as Popplet (or Popplet Lite) on the iPad, or a web-based mindmapping tool such as Mindmeister or Padlet here too.

 

As you can see, the planning sheet is structured to encourage the children to consider both what the two characters will say, and how long it might take them to say it (i.e. how long the speech bubble for the line needs to be on the screen to give the viewer time to read it properly).

Finding images, characters, and sound effects to use

Once the children have decided on a theme for their presentation, they will need to find character images and backgrounds for their Scratch project. There are three options for this:

  1. Use the characters and / or backgrounds that are installed automatically with Scratch

  2. Download images from the internet and use these.

  3. Taking their own photos of a scene, classroom display, or a piece of student-created artwork.

Key Questions

  • Have you asked a range of suitable questions, both open ended and closed?

  • Are your questions interesting and challenging?

  • Have you researched effectively and found answers to your questions?

  • Have you planned your presentation effectively so that you know exactly what you will talking about?

  • Have you prepared a suitable script which uses the reserch to answer the questions in your own style (are you aware of copyright issues and that you cannot copy and paste directly from a website?)

  • Have you identified and saved a range of backgrounds and images to use as your characters (which have the appropriate usage so that you are not breaking copyright).​

Extension/Differentiation

For those learners who require support for this activity, it may be that you provide them with peer support of a more scafolded version of the script planning sheet eg give them sentence starters or ideas of what each character may say. This actvity is best done in pairs or small groups, so mixed ability groups in terms of writing are always helpful. ​​​

Skills

 
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Planning & Creation

 

Plan

Creating our Scratch project

Now that the planning process is complete, and we have brought our characters and backgrounds into Scratch, we can start to put our Scratch project together. The basic process is a repetition of what we learned in the Little Red Riding Hood example. We will then look at extending this work, adding instructions to change the background images at key points in the presentation.

For demonstration purposes here, we will be using the Egyptians Conversation (completed).pdf which shows the conversation that has been added to the original planning document.

As you will see, we have also attempted to estimate timings for each of the lines / waits, but we can tweak these if necessary as we put the project together.

 

Extending our project - changing backgrounds as the presentation runs

To give our project more of a "presentation" feel, we can now extend the project to make the background image change at different times in the presentation. 

 

Here is the completed Scratch project, with changing backgrounds and the other details we've looked at:

 

Annotating Scratch projects

To allow students to describe their understanding of the concepts of a program, it is useful to introduce them to the annotation commenting tool in Scratch. This can be very useful as a tool for assessment too.​ 

Here is a video that shows this process.

Key Questions

  • Have you asked a range of suitable questions, both open ended and closed?

  • Are your questions interesting and challenging?

  • Have you researched effectively and found answers to your questions?

  • Have you planned your presentation effectively so that you know exactly what you will talking about?

  • Have you prepared a suitable script which uses the reserch to answer the questions in your own style (are you aware of copyright issues and that you cannot copy and paste directly from a website?)

  • Have you identified and saved a range of backgrounds and images to use as your characters (which have the appropriate usage so that you are not breaking copyright).​

Extension/Differentiation

For those learners who require support for this activity, it may be that you provide them with peer support of a more scafolded version of the script planning sheet eg give them sentence starters or ideas of what each character may say. This actvity is best done in pairs or small groups, so mixed ability groups in terms of writing are always helpful. ​

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Sharing & Evaluation

Plan

Sharing, feedback, evaluation and subsequent modification and improvement are key parts of any creative process. Here are some ideas that you may wish to explore to facilitate this process:

 

Sharing work online for feedback and evaluation

  • Create a document library on your Learning Platform and ask students to share their Scratch files into this.

  • Use an online survey tool such as SurveyMonkey for students to evaluate their own programs and those of others in the class.

  • Write blog articles which include detailed reviews of other students' presentations

  • Use Socrative.com on laptops or the Socrative apps on iPads to collect together thoughts about possible improvements or ideas to extend the work.

  • Have an in-class vote / competition to select favourite pieces of work

  • Upload "best" work to the school website for parents to view

  • Enter "best" work for The DIGIs! (www.thedigis.net)

 

Encourage students to download and install Scratch at home. We suggest sending a letter home to make it clear to parents that this is 1) safe and 2) of educational benefit!

 

​Success Criteria 

Its is vital that for any project, learners have clear and agreed success criteria against which they can judge the success of their project.  You may wish to use this document as a starting point.​ 

Links to Resources

Key Questions

  • Have you been able to review the success of your project as well as the projects of others?

  • ​Have you succesfull shared your project for others to watch and learn from?

  • Have you potentially uploaded your work for inclsuion at the Digis?

Extension/Differentiation

Whilst some learners may be able to generate their own success criteria, for other learners it may be appropriate to give them the Success criteria document​​​ with clear criteria against which they can assess and be assessed.​​

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Assessment

 

All learners will be able to

  • Experience a variety of simple games, simulations, and apps (including online resources). 

  • Express an opinion about a game, simulation or app​.

  • Show other children the result of simple programs they have helped to create.

  • Be able to describe what happened when a set of instructions was run, and whether it achieved the desired outcome. Suggest simple suggestions why a program did not work correctly​.

Some learners will be able to

  • Be able to give detailed criticisms of the design (user interface) of a specific program. Be able to explain key vocabulary in programming, and give specific examples.​

  • Work independently or with other learners to design simple programs or games to be created in age-appropriate software (Kodu/Scratch) and hardware (e.g. Beebots) 

  • Be able to predict the behaviour of a simple program, and to test that prediction.​

  • Create a simple computer program that includes multiple instructions.

  • Test a simple program, notice bugs and make changes to improve it.

  • Programme and control more sophisticated programmable toys to achieve specific tasks e.g. negotiate a course. 

  • Describe to other children how they created a program, and what they hoped to achieve.

  • Suggest specific reasons why a program did not work correctly, and work, with support, to solve issues.

  • Give feedback to other children about their programs or games.​

Most learners will be able to

  • Be able to give reasons why they like or dislike a computer program or app. Be able to explain, in simple terms, key vocabulary in programming, including algorithm, program, code/ instruction.

  • ​Work independently or with other learners to design simple programs or games to be created in age-appropriate software (Kodu/Scratch) 

  • Be able to predict the behaviour of a simple program, and to test that prediction.​

  • Create a simple computer program that includes multiple instructions.  

  • ​Test a simple program, notice bugs and make changes to improve it.

  • Describe to other children how they created a program, and what they hoped to achieve.

  • Suggest specific reasons why a program did not work correctly, and work, with support, to solve issues. 

  • Give feedback to other children about their programs or games.​