Scratch Encore is aligned with CSforAll, a national movement nurtured (and named) in Chicago to bring high-quality computer science education to all students, regardless of background. This curriculum fulfills a specific need in upper-elementary school and middle school education. While there are several polished introductory computer science (CS) curricula for 4th-6th grade classrooms, there are very few existing resources (for both teachers and students) to create a cohesive second CS learning experience, nor guidance on how to create them. This ad-hoc approach to intermediate Scratch instruction is a barrier to equitable computing education.
From a research perspective, our project asks, “How can we create advanced elementary Computer Science instructional materials that value advancing equity equally with student learning outcomes?”
What does it mean to advance equity? To us, it means creating materials that support teachers of all experience backgrounds to provide high-quality instruction to students of all experience and cultural backgrounds. While this is a tall order, we hope that our curriculum is a step in the right direction. In order to do this, we have identified specific barriers of equity and designed our curriculum to reduce the impact of those barriers.
Barrier: Lack of cohesive intermediate curriculum
Solution: General framework
We have created not only a specific set of curricular materials (including projects and lesson plans), but also a framework - a specific set of learning goals for each module that could be satisfied in a variety of ways - so that, even a teacher or organization decided to implement something differently, they could decide to fit their curriculum to this framework, providing a more cohesive experience as students switch between teachers, schools, or districts.
Barrier: Diversity of teachers and students
Solution: Use->Modify->Create pedagogical approach
The Use->Modify->Create pedagogical approach is a highly scaffolded progression of activities used to teach each concept. This progression goes from highly scaffolded, providing an example of how a concept is used, inviting the student to modify this provided example, to more open-ended, allowing the student to apply those concepts in a less constrained environment. This structured approach supports teachers that may have less background teaching students and may be modified based on available classroom time, the speed at which students are learning the material, and whether they are encountering the curriculum for the first time or reviewing in a later year.
Barrier: Diversity of student introductory experiences
Solution: Scratch Basics Bridge modules
There are several high-quality, polished curricula for introductory computing in elementary school, including the Creative Computing Curriculum, Google’s CS First, and code.org. Not all of these cover concepts in the same order, depth, or with Scratch. Therefore, the first modules are a quick review of introductory computing concepts along with an introduction to Scratch. By the end of the first three modules, students should be ready for intermediate Scratch instruction.
Barrier: Diversity of student cultural backgrounds
Solution: Culturally-Relevant design practices
Three design decisions are to support a diversity of students. First, we are creating multiple choices for each learning module, allowing the teacher to tailor the student experience to the cohort of students they have. These learning modules are drawn from several sources, including projects that speak to students of specific cultural backgrounds as well as ideas generated by several participatory co-design sessions involving parents, students, and teachers. Second, we are providing opportunities for students to express themselves through their projects. Our techniques range from customizing minor elements (choosing the say blocks) to the create projects which have many dimensions on which students can be creative. Finally, we take care to include characters that reflect many different backgrounds. For example, our characters include Africans, Asians, Caucasians, and Native Americans.
Barrier: Diversity of student learning levels
Solution: Differentiation, graphical organizers, and learning strategy support
Different students have different learning needs. Therefore, we have included support for a variety of learners. We provide differentiation through extension exercises and open-ended create activities. We also provide scaffolding through graphical organizers, activity sheets that support student planning through fill-in-the-blank diagrams. Finally, we include a new strategy we developed called TIPPSEE to help students navigate the complex Scratch interface and focus on the learning goals each activity.
Barrier: Different amounts of time in different grade levels
Solution: Spiral curriculum
With the design decisions made described above, we can accommodate classrooms that may need to spread material over multiple years. In one year, one teacher may cover 7 modules. The next year, the teacher can choose a new theme and revisit some modules for review utilizing only the Use->Modify activities, accelerating them to later modules. They can then delve further into the curriculum that second year. In a third year, they could choose to begin later in the curriculum again, focusing on more challenging modules and covering similar material in different ways.
Prior Experience: Scratch Encore assumes students have some initial computer science experience that has taught them the basics of sequence, loops, and conditionals. This can be accomplished through the Creative Computing Curriculum, Code.org, Google’s CS First, Action Fractions, or any other curriculum.
Bridge: Scratch Encore then provides a bridge - three units that are review in terms of their computer science conceptual coverage while introducing Scratch to students who may not be familiar with the interface and specific blocks that Scratch uses.
New Material: Scratch Encore provides gradually more complex coverage of loops, conditionals, synchronization, data, and decomposition. While the main learning goal of each module maps to each of the categories, as seen below, the modules cannot be reordered due to reinforcement of previously-taught principles. For example, conditional loops are used in several modules after module 4.
Scratch Encore has several strands, each covering many learning modules. Once the curriculum is complete, a teacher may choose a single strand for the entire curriculum or jump between strands as it matches the school year, desired integration, or student interests.
In fall 2018, we will pilot with a single pilot strand, made up of exemplar projects from the strands. In fall 2019, we will launch the entire curriculum, allowing teachers to choose which project they want for each learning module.
Below, we show where the modules for our pilot strand fall in the final strands.
Scratch Encore is not designed to be completed in a single year. It has 14 modules, each containing 2-3 60-minute lessons. There are several ways a teacher might want to use this curriculum.
This is for students how have already had some programming experience through Code.org (beyond Hour of Code), Google’s CS First, or the Creative Computing Curriculum.
Intermediate Steady Method:
Complete Modules 1-N, going through all lessons. This allows students to first explore and learn the concept through modify activities in lesson 1, then solidify each concept and engage in more student-directed learning in the create lessons.
Intermediate Virtual Pet Culminating Project:
Complete Modules 1-6, completing all of the first exploratory lessons but only half the create lessons. This allows students to build their skills for their culminating project. They then design and build a virtual pet with inspiration from https://scratch.mit.edu/pet. We will develop materials to more directly connect the content to what they learned in Scratch Encore. The current Scratch materials focus on step-by-step instructions rather than design and implementation with known skills. Look for that in the future!
Intermediate Storytelling Culminating Project:
Complete Modules 1-7, completing all of the first exploratory lessons but only half the create lessons. This allows students to build their skills for their culminating project. They then design and build a story with inspiration from https://scratch.mit.edu/story. We will develop materials to more directly connect the content to what they learned in Scratch Encore. The current Scratch materials focus on step-by-step instructions rather than design and implementation with known skills. Look for that in the future!
This is for students who have already completed the intermediate curriculum and are coming around a second year to go deeper into the curriculum.
Advanced Steady Method:
Pick some review modules for your students by choosing a different theme than they had in their previous experience. For those review modules, start with only the modify. If they appear to struggle, then you can do the create, as well. Once the students are refreshed, continue through the new modules, completing all lessons.
Advanced Game Culminating Project:
Pick some review modules for your students by choosing a different theme than they had in their previous experience. For those review modules, start with only the modify. If they appear to struggle, then you can do the create, as well. Once the students are refreshed, continue through the game strand of the new modules, completing all modify and create lessons. At least four sessions prior to the end of instruction, invite students to design and then implement a game of their choice, utilizing the skills they built in the prior modules.
In line with Use->Modify->Create pedagogy, each module begins with introducing the concept and then providing an engaging project that uses that concept once. Students need to be able to hone in on the important sprites and scripts that they need to inspect and then modify. Scratch has a lot of buttons and tabs, potentially distracting students from the goals.
TIPPSEE is a learning strategy inspired by reading comprehension learning strategies. It gives students a roadmap for taking a pre-created Scratch project and focusing in on how to use it for learning. It begins with familiarizing them with the title and instructions, reminding them of the purpose, and then playing the project itself. Once they have figured out which sprite(s) they need to modify, the go inside the code and find the sprite and script they want to change. Then it’s time to explore.
In order to support this learning strategy, it is important for the teacher to first model the strategy (I DO), then have students do it along with the teacher (WE DO), then finally provide reminders for the students so they can do it themselves (YOU DO). A poster in the classroom can help students remember the steps to keep them on track.
An acronym to help your students remember to Reload, Remix, Share, and Studio!
Reload: Following the TIPP&SEE portion of the lesson, it is often necessary for students to reload the Scratch project so that it reverts to its original state before beginning the Modify task for that lesson. Otherwise, some of the changes made during the purposeful play portion of TIPP&SEE could be confusing.
Remix: As students begin work on their programming tasks, it is essential that they remember to remix the projects to their Scratch accounts in order for their work to be saved.
Share: Students must share their projects, or you will not be able to see them and you will not be able to use the Automated Assessment tool.
Studio: Finally, in order for the Automated Assessment tool to work, students need to add their projects to the studio that you created for today’s Scratch activity.
Summer 2019: The RoaR & hiSS acronym will be integrated into all Scratch Encore modules!
To create a Scratch Teacher account, first click on this link to request an Educator Account on the Scratch Educators page: https://scratch.mit.edu/educators/
If you already have a Scratch account, email the following information to email@example.com:
Your scratch account username
The birth month and year associated with your account
The email address associated with your account
Once your Scratch Teacher account has been created, you can create your classes and add your students in your Scratch Classroom: Using Scratch Classroom
Once you create your student login credentials: Students Login instructions
Teachers can use Classroom to post links to the Scratch Use/Modify/Create lessons (as links) and the Student Lesson Sheets (as assignments).
Creating assignments in Classroom allows teachers to set due dates and select all or specific students to complete the assignment.
Here is an example (link to the Google Classroom for the Scratch Encore PD Workshop): https://classroom.google.com/u/1/c/MTQ5MzY3NDY1NDZa
We recommend using the Chrome browser when teaching Scratch Encore lessons.
Do not use the Safari browser. When loaded in Safari, many projects appear to load without error, but produce buggy and unpredictable behavior. Often times a sprite will not appear on the screen, even though it is present in the project. Other times, they simply do not work as coded.
Scratch Encore has released a beta version of automated assessment. For a subset of the assignments, the tool analyzes the student projects for completion of required elements.
Note: This is specific to the projects as described in Scratch Encore. If you make modifications to project requirements in any way, the automated assessment tool will not adjust for them.
To use the tool, your students need to have all added their projects to the same studio.
You should see something like the following:
You receive two pieces of information. First, the top bar gives you an indication of the level of completeness in your class. As more students finish, the green part of the bar will consume more of the width, and the number will rise. Second, it reports individual student completion. Each project is identified by the user (ScratchID) and projectID. It provides check marks or X’s for different required elements of that project. It also reports extensions completed.
As a brand-new product tested on very few projects, it is expected that some student projects may be created that you, as a teacher, consider finished, but our static analysis does not capture. If this is the case, then please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following elements:
Then we can modify our tool to look for that type of code and count it as complete if we agree with your assessment!
Updated versions of Modules 1-3 are available for download today!
Updated versions of Modules 4-6 will be available for download by 9/2/2019.
Pilot versions of Modules 7-15 will be available for download as they are completed.
Scratch Encore is structured to be culturally responsive to students and highly customizable to teachers. For each module, there will be three different versions available for teachers to choose from so that they may choose the version that they feel will resonate most with their students.
Modules 1-6 are available for all three strands: Multicultural, Youth Culture, and Gaming. This means there are three versions available for each module - one with a Multicultural theme, one with a Youth Culture theme, and another with a Gaming theme. The computer science content taught in each module is consistent across strands. It makes no difference which version you choose to teach - the content is the same!
Modules 7-15 remain in the pilot phase - only one version of each module will be available during the 2019-2020 school year.
The RoaR & hiSS acronym has been added to all student facing worksheets for Modify and Create tasks. This acronym reminds students to Reload the project, Remix the project, Share the project, and +add the project to the Studio.
To help students develop important debugging skills, the WHAT!? Debugging Strategy & AMESS! acronym are introduced and incorporated in student materials. Together they help students locate and fix bugs in their projects.
Changes to student facing worksheets:
Changes to Create projects:
Changes to Unit Plan (teacher guides):
The Automated Assessment Tool now works with Scratch 3.0!!! Read more about the Automated Assessment Tool.
As with any large effort, our team consisted of long-term members who dedicated a majority of their time and energy to this endeavor. In addition, as an academic institution, we also have an educational mission to provide opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students to allow them to build skills and be a part of the research and development process. As such, many people contributed to our project in different ways. Here, we acknowledge people who worked on our project, from those who have put their hearts and souls into it for months at a time to those who participated for a few months in limited but sometimes valuable capacities.
Core team members:
Diana Franklin - Diana leads the project, collaborating with the leadership team to define research goals, develop design principles, and carry out the major aspects of the work. Diana leads the curriculum development and splits research leadership with David Weintrop.
David Weintrop - David began as Diana’s post-doc, providing substantial input into the design of the project and writing the bulk of the grant application. As a faculty member, he has risen to an equal collaborator, and he and Diana parcel out leadership of research thrusts as they make sense.
Andy Rasmussen - Andy leads the Chicago Public Schools effort, overseeing a large set of CPS research grants in this area. He provides insight into CPS challenges and provides assistance in overcoming hurdles with doing research in CPS.
Brenda Darden Wilkerson - Brenda noticed a gap in middle school computer science instruction. Teachers used block-based environments to introduce very basic programming skills, but then quickly moved to text-based programming environments (e.g., using languages such as Python). She suggested an intermediate-level computer science curriculum be developed that focused on advanced computer science concepts, but did so in a block-based programming environment to avoid the overhead of a text-based environments.
Jen Palmer - Jen is the lead developer for Scratch Encore. She led the development team with Merijke and Sue during the development year, coordinated undergraduate participants, co-designed and ran the participatory design sessions, and coordinated teacher involvement. During the research period, she collects data and trades off with Merijke in analyzing and writing up research results.
Merijke Coenraad - Merijke is the lead graduate student for Scratch Encore. She is an integral part of curriculum development and also leads research design of several of the research thrusts. She occasionally flies in for data collection but primarily provides leadership in coordinating data analysis and writing research results for some of the thrusts.
Sue Krause - Sue was on the development team during the development year, providing valuable contributions in idea generation, lesson plan writing, and Scratch project implementation.
Donna Eatinger - Donna joined the development team during the pilot year. While teachers implemented the pilot versions of the modules in their classrooms, she oversaw the development of alternate versions of each module. Thus, bringing into reality the strand structure that is the basis of the curriculum in terms of cultural responsiveness.
Melissa Cobain and Kris Beck - This dynamic duo has provided a wealth of feedback on our modules as they were developed, support at professional development workshops, and interfaced directly with CPS teachers to encourage them to learn about the curriculum. They also run professional development workshops independent of the research project so that more teachers can use this curriculum than the grant can support.
Other contributors putting in at least 400 hours of time to the main thrust:
Ashley Wang and Max White - Ashley and Max began as summer undergraduate students in summer 2018. They both developed Scratch projects and implemented static analysis modules for just-in-time formative project evaluation for teachers. In addition, Ashley provided artwork, including the Scratch Encore mouse logo. They have continued to work on the project throughout the 2018-19 school year.
Woorin Jang, Ruolin Zheng, and Henry Hopcraft were summer undergraduate in summer 2018. They both developed Scratch projects and implemented static analysis modules for just-in-time formative project evaluation for teachers. In addition, Woorin and Ruolin provided artwork for several projects.
In Summer/Fall 2017, Evan Murray, Adil Truong, Shu Yang, and Michael Zhou, UCSB undergraduates, being coordinated by David Sanosa, brainstormed and implemented possible projects for different strands that corresponded with initial, draft module descriptions developed by Diana Franklin. In Fall 2017, UCSB graduate student Jim Gribble participated in brainstorming sessions to expand this initial set of ideas.