1. How did you and your teaching partner decide to do this project? (Please describe the context of your project, this can include influence from previous projects, context of your school, community, etc.):
Taking inspiration from the book A Long Walk to Water (by Linda Sue Parks), students developed their own digital story based on a major theme from the book, (such as survival, war, resilience, tolerance and/or social responsibility) using Scratch programming.
While developing our curriculum, we looked at an article written by Quinn Burke and Yasmin B. Kafai on The Writers Workshop for Youth Programmers: Digital Storytelling with Scratch in Middle School Classrooms. The paper highlights making connections with computer science and creative writing by looking at comparable terminology such as: drafting/design, revising/debugging & protagonist-antagonist/sprites etc.
2. Big Idea: Coding as a Language
3. Inquiry: Can comparing the elements of a story to Scratch coding help students to become adept writers/artists?
4. Grade Level: 7th Grade
5. Academic Subject(s): Language Arts (Writing)
6. Artistic Discipline(s): Coding/Animation
7. How many years have you worked together as partners?: 4 years
8. Please describe what you did and what you made for this project: Students were taught narrative writing with an emphasis on the narrative story arch. Once students wrote their own narrative stories, they were then taught the art of coding. Using the coding program SCRATCH, students used coding to create digital, animated stories and bring their narrative stories to life.
9. What were you hoping the students would learn during this project?: Animation – what are the advantages and challenges of creating a narrative with Scratch coding? How does it feel to bring your story to life?
Up until this point, the 7th grade class had not been exposed to much creative writing so Marilyn and I thought our integration with programming would be an unique way to get students engaged and excited about creative writing.
We also wanted students to understand that Scratch coding characteristics could also relate to other types of programming languages. For example we wanted students to use the following programming concepts frequently: coordination and synchronization, threads and loops and begin to see where these concepts overlap with other programming software.
10. What surprised you during this project?: I was really surprised with the amount of coding it took for students to animate their characters and bring their stories to life. Also, though the coding was challenging, I was surprised how the students persevered and remained engaged with their projects.
11. What worked in this project and why? What didn’t work and why?: The partnership always works because Niema is so creative. She chooses projects that not only integrate my content but are also encourage student engagement. She knows what will captivate my students.
Students found coding engaging but challenging because it’s so time consuming. Some students had to simplify their stories in order to complete their coding and their animation. Marilyn and I are also relatively new to SCRATCH and were limited in how much help we could provide the students. However, we would like to continue with this integration next year because we felt that block coding was a unique integration with language arts and allowed students to make insightful connections with programming and language.
Access to technology was limited because of testing during that time of the year. This stretched the collaboration (which was a good thing).
12. How did you assess student learning?: (ex. Was it formative or summative? Was it a written, verbal or performative based assessment? Were students provided with teacher or peer feedback? Did you use a rubric or portfolio system? Etc.) We useda combination of written, verbal and performative based assessments. Students were provided with teacher or peer feedback and students kept a reflection journal which was used to assess students’ progress with their understanding of the art process.
13. How did you share your student’s learning process with others? Who did you share it with?: Students’ reflection journals along with their finished products were shared with the rest of the 7th grade in the school. I plan to share with the greater school community before the end of the school year.
We also shared images of our collaboration on Instagram @creationsof_camras. The account currently has 115 followers, many of whom are Camras school students. These animations are also uploaded to the SCRATCH website (https://scratch.mit.edu/studios/4625928/), and are accessible to the SCRATCH community as well as the general public.
14. Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):
VA:Cr1.1.7a Apply methods to overcome creative blocks
VA:Cr2.3.7a Apply visual organizational strategies to design and produce a work of art, design, or media that clearly communicates information or ideas.
W.7.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
W.7.3a Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
W.7.3bUse narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
W.7.3e Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.