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A CLASSROOM-FRIENDLY INTRODUCTION TO CODING

 

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GETTING STARTED

 

We've designed this learning experience from the ground up to be useful for educators and parents with limited technical knowledge and no prior coding experience. Setup for the lesson requires minimal effort, and for those who are reluctant to walk their group through the setup process, we've included an express setup option that will allow you and your learners to follow along with the video lesson and save your work without creating unique user accounts.

STEP 1: ACCOUNT SETUP
 

In order to save your game files, you and each of your learners will need access to a registered Scratch account. There are four ways to accomplish this, with varying degrees of preparation required:

OPTION 1: Set up an educator account

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Registered educators can sign up at scratch.mit.edu/educators to create a free teacher's account which will allow you to register your entire class with user accounts in a shared space where students will be able to see each other's work, collaborate and comment. There are options that will allow you to set up individual user accounts for your students or send an e-mail link inviting your students to join your online class. This video from the Scratch Team explains the process in detail. Note that your students will not be able to import their existing Scratch accounts into your virtual classroom.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Intermediate

ADVANTAGES: Maximum teacher oversight

DISADVANTAGES: Onus on teacher to set up accounts

 

OPTION 2: Students set up accounts

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Alternatively, you can ask your students to set up their own user accounts by clicking the Join button at scratch.mit.edu. Students will need a valid e-mail account. Note that school e-mail accounts for elementary-age children are sometimes blocked to prohibit external e-mails. If this is the case, your students will not be able to receive a confirmation e-mail from the Scratch team to complete their account setup. The setup process is very straightforward, but here is a video that will walk you through the process.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Easy

ADVANTAGES: Students can use their existing account

DISADVANTAGES: Teacher will have limited ability to view unshared student projects

OPTION 3: Offline setup

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The makers of Scratch have created an offline editor, compatible with Windows, Mac and Chrome OS, which your students can download, install and use to create Scratch projects and save them locally to their computer. Although it's possible to upload games to the Internet via this method, no Internet connection or user account is required to build Scratch projects via this method.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Easy

ADVANTAGES: No Internet connection needed

DISADVANTAGES: Harder to share files 

OPTION 4: Express setup

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To make this learning experience as accessible as possible, Chromeworks has created temporary Scratch accounts that your students are free to use for a short time while you're conducting your first in-class Scratch unit. Should you choose to continue working in Scratch after this lesson, however, you'll eventually need to migrate your students to permanent accounts.

To request an Express setup, e-mail Chromeworks with the number of users you'll need. We'll try to get back to you within 24 hours with a list of usernames and passwords you can use. 

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Effortless

ADVANTAGES: Class can jump right in

DISADVANTAGES: Accounts are for temporary use only 

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STEP 2: CREATE A CAT & MOUSE STUDIO

 
 

The easiest way to monitor your class's work is by having your students save their work into a Scratch studio, a shared folder where collections of projects can be stored and shared. We recommend you start this project by having all your students create a new Scratch project and sharing it to a Cat & Mouse Studio that you have created. 

Here are the steps for creating a studio for your class

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  1. Log into your Scratch account (see Step 1)

  2. In the user menu at the top-right of the screen, select My Stuff

  3. Click on the button marked + New Studio

  4. Name your studio and (optional) add a description

  5. (a) If you have a teacher account, students will be able to your studio in their own My Stuff folder.
    (b) If you don't have a teacher account, click on the checkbox marked "Allow anyone to add projects." Click in the address bar of your browser and copy your studio's web URL to share with students via e-mail, Google Classroom or other communications tools.

Prior to starting the lesson, ask your students to log into Scratch and ask them to prepare a blank coding project so they can start work.​

 

 

STEP 3: PREP YOUR STUDENTS
 

 
 

Steps to prepare project

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  1. In a web browser, navigate to scratch.mit.edu

  2. Click the Sign In button at the top right of the page

  3. Click the Create button

  4. Name the project in the pale blue window at the top of the screen marked "Untitled." Ask students to include their first name in the project name to make it easier for you to identify the project's creator.

  5. Click in the address bar of your web browser and copy the address using Ctrl-C or by right-clicking and selecting copy.

  6. Click on the Orange Share button next to the project name.

  7. Your browser will switch to a Project Page where your students (optional) can fill in details about their project.

  8. Navigate to the Cat & Mouse studio that you created in Step 2 and click "add projects"

  9. Paste the URL of your project into the window that appears below and click "add by url".

  10. You and your students will now be able to see and load each other's saved projects in the studio. You will not be able to change each other's files, but you will be able to remix other's work and make modifications under your own name.

 

 

STEP 4: WATCH THE LESSON

You can view our 10-part tutorial series by navigating to our VIDEOS page, or by viewing our Cat & Mouse playlist on YouTube.

Tips for airing the videos

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  1. You may choose to play the videos over a projector or have students watch independently.

  2. Reassure learners that there will be a pause at the end of every chapter during which they'll be able to build the code that Mr. Tomec just added to the project, and that any new code will be displayed on the screen for them to follow along.  

  3. You may choose to allow students to code along while the video is running. It depends on the personality of your class, but we've tried giving the students free rein during test screenings and generally have had good results.

If students get stuck

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  1. You may choose to play the videos over a projector or have students watch independently.

  2. Reassure learners that there will be a pause at the end of every chapter during which they'll be able to build the code that Mr. Tomec just added to the project, and that any new code will be displayed on the screen for them to follow along.  

  3. You may choose to allow students to code along while the video is running. It depends on the personality of your class, but we've tried giving the students free rein during test screenings and generally have had good results.