We've designed this workshop from the ground up to be a stress-free experience for educators and parents. No prior coding experience or technical knowledge is required, and aside from creating user accounts, no advance preparation is needed.
WHY LEARN CODING?
Coding is a form of literacy that allows for creative expression using many different tools and materials, and the ability to connect and share ideas and imaginations with anyone or anything. This literacy is essential for children to be able to understand and engage in the changing world they are growing up in. The Cat & Mouse project provides a fun and motivating, but guided entry, into the world of coding that will help nurture a healthy coding mindset.
The Ontario Elementary Math Curriculum (2020) now includes a coding section. The overall expectation for coding is “solve problems and create computational representations of mathematical situations using coding concepts and skills”. As time goes on, the scope of this directive will likely be expanded to encompass the broader goals of creative expression and problem solving that coding projects inspire.
Cat & Mouse is a starter project designed and tested exhaustively in hundreds of classroom settings, and now modified to fit in-class and remote learning environments. All of the elementary coding expectations from grades 1-8 can be achieved by completing this project. However, this is just one project to get started. Best practices would have students working on numerous diverse projects over time. Our Digital Storytelling Project (slated for Spring 2021 release) offers this pathway. This next instalment will extend the concepts introduced here and train students to produce original, creative Scratch projects in diverse subject areas including science, social studies, health and language.
HOW THIS PROJECT ADDRESSES THE CURRICULUM
The code for the mouse sprite children will program in this lesson addresses all of the curriculum requirements from grade 1-6. For grades 7 and 8, the mouse sprite code plus a couple of custom blocks will meet the requirements.
The grade 7 requirement for a custom block and a counter can be achieved by creating a block that counts the mice that get eaten by the cat (“Eaten Mice”).
Or a block that simply converts this bit of code into a custom block called “touched the cat”
The grade 8 requirement to analyse data to make decisions can be achieved by counting the mice as the cats eat them and deciding to stop when the cat is full. Alternatively, students could calculate the rate of consumption, which in turn could affect the speed of the mice. Or any number of other ideas.
Below you'll find some ideas for assessment (self, peer, and educator) for each grade. These should be modified to best suit your students. The self-assessment is a checklist that allows the student to think about their learning, and prepare them to answer questions about it. The peer assessment fosters collaboration and growth by analysing, modifying and commenting on other similar projects. The educator assessment provides a progressive look-for list, including a social-emotional learning (SEL) expectation, a math (Number) expectation, as well as the specific coding expectations for that grade.
We don't recommend this curriculum for children below
Grade 4, but with sufficient support and a motivated group, teaching this material may be feasible.
GOOGLE CLASSROOM CONNECTION
One way to integrate this programming is to use Google Classroom to provide the MATERIALS from the website (link to videos), and to ASSIGN the assessments to individual students by grade. This way they can turn them in when complete and you have a paperless record of their thoughts.
You can foster deeper thinking through collaboration by posing questions that encourage reflection on shared Jamboards, Padlet and other collaborative brainstorming tools. Some example prompts include:
What do you like best about the project you made?
If you had more time, what would you add or change?
What was the hardest part?
The feedback received here is often quite insightful.
Collaborative brainstorming tools like Jamboard and Padlet are a great way to follow up on the lesson. (Click to expand)
This curriculum and assessment guide was developed by Glenn Boustead, OCT. Mr. Boustead welcomes feedback and questions, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.