How to Teach Second Grade Scratch
The Programming is the New Literacy project was launched in September 2016 when students of grades 3-6 started to study programming in Scratch as an elective. In January 2017, second-graders joined the community of young Scratchers.
Teachers who have launched the elective in Scratch for second-graders reveal what challenges young programmers have already faced.
Alla Mirankova, Primary School Teacher at Orsha Secondary School No.21, and Nina Lauto, Primary School Teacher at Orsha Secondary School No.2, share their experience.
It has become our traditional question: why did you join the project?
A. Mirankova: Long before I joined the Programming is the New Literacy project, I studied Scratch on my own. I was enthusiastic about mastering the programming language; it was a challenge for me and a desire to get new knowledge. After learning what Scratch is, I decided that the language could help to build students' information culture since primary school and do this deliberately and systematically. The offer to join the project was very interesting and important to me.
N. Lauto: I am an experimenter and an adventurer. I like everything new so my participation in the Programming s the New Literacy project is a breath of fresh air; I can implement many interesting ideas and share them with my colleagues due to the project. Earlier I participated in the innovative project One Student: One Laptop; I liked it so I agreed immediately to take part in the new project!
You are facing a difficult task – to teacher second-grade students to program in Scratch. Do children like the new elective?
A. Mirankova: Frankly speaking, I was excited to see the reaction of such little kids. I was worried that they would not like the first class, would not become interested. Now all my worries are over. Since the very first class, it was apparent that the second-graders not only loved Scratch, they were thrilled with it! The children try to solve complicated tasks, and I see how excited they are with new tasks and how happy they feel when succeeding.
N. Lauto: I did not expect such an attitude from second-graders! The students look forward to a new class, clap their hands when assigned homework, share their enthusiasm about Scratch with their parents and friends. Information about the elective extends far beyond the school building! Many students downloaded Scratch offline editor to create projects at home and then send them to me. It is important that the children are supported by their parents. For example, mother of one of the students said: "My son was extremely fascinated by the first class in Scratch, he was talking about it the whole evening, describing it to his friends from the gymnastics class, and now we together develop simple projects! It is very interesting even to me so I can imagine how entertaining it is for the child!"
How do you manage to hold attention of so young programmers?
A. Mirankova: In second grade, one uses interactive approach and games mostly. I try changing types of activity, use different things to visualize ideas. I also always use concentration techniques.
N. Lauto: As I have mentioned, the parents encourage their children's interest in studying Scratch. To hold students' attention, mother of one of the girls and I compose fairy stories about Scratch cat for every class. The children like them a lot. I try to hold attention by changing types of activities, using colorful illustrations and other visual means, inventing entertaining games.