Educational Project of Belarus Hi-Tech Park and Ministry of Education of the Republic of Belarus

Youngest Programmers Started Learning Scratch

After the Christmas holydays, second-graders at 12 schools in Orsha, Lida, Novopolotsk, Baran, and Vitebsk started learning Scratch within the educational project Programming is the New Literacy.

Scratch, a visual programming environment and toolkit, allows students learn programming essentials in an entertaining way without having to study complicated syntax of programming languages.

Due to Scratch, students can develop logical thinking, enhance their creativity, and understand school curriculum more easily. But it is a challenge for a teacher to engage young students who have just learned to read and write.

Olga Sheluhovskaya with her students, Orsha Secondary School No.12

Olga Sheluhovskaya, Elementary School Teacher at Orsha Secondary School No.12, shares her ideas and education techniques.

Olga, you joined the project long ago. You started to teach Scratch to fourth-graders in September, and in January you launched elective class for students of Grade 2. How did you manage to make young children interested in the class?

- Indeed, elective classes in Scratch for 4th-grade students started in the beginning of the academic year. In November I began to consider ways of making 2nd-grade students want to program and look forward to the class! While teaching Scratch to students of Grade 4, I saw how excited they were after the class, so I decided that my experienced programmers would help me deal with the task. In December I launched a PR campaign This is SCRATCH!. Fourth-graders introduced a wonder class to their younger schoolmates and presented their animation projects. Second-graders were inspired to study Scratch. The only thing they were worried about was their enrollment in the class, the lucky group (as the children said) to learn how to create projects.

Junior Scratchers from Orsha Secondary School No.12

Is it how the education technique of older students teaching younger ones emerged?

- Exactly. I understood that it worked. The first class with second-graders was held together with 4th-grade students. During the class, the experienced fourth-graders explained what Scratch is, described the main sprites, and showed how to create a simple project. The children were excited! The fourth-graders tried on the role of teacher, while the second-graders fulfilled their dream to start learning Scratch: they created projects, with every cat being nicknamed and commanded to move under certain conditions and bounce if on edge.

Junior Scratchers from Orsha Secondary School No.12

Are you going to continue using the technique?

- Of course. The technique is worth attention. I see that it is useful and interesting to my students. Fourth-graders can refresh their knowledge and inspire their younger schoolmates. I am planning to think over new innovative approaches to studying Scratch so that my students keep calling the elective in Scratch "the lucky group."