When Mitch Resnick and his team created Scratch, they envisioned a culture of remixing and sharing coding projects, a very open community where everyone learned from everyone else, and every member having something to contribute. Following those same ideals, the ScratchEd Team at Harvard is now promoting the organization of meet-ups around the world, informal groups that gather to share and learn about Scratch in the classroom. There are fewer than thirty of these groups meeting regularly around the world so far, and we are lucky to have one in the Richmond Area.
The ScratchEd RVA Meetup is the result of the collaborative efforts of Joe Beasley 5th grade teacher at Goochland County Public Schools, and Debbie Mickle, Science Matters Project Manager at the Community Idea Stations. When Joe was named PBS Digital Innovator last summer, he had a chance to visit with Debbie. Together, they brainstormed ideas they felt passionately about that would benefit educators in the Richmond Area. The end result was the beginning of what promises to be a long-lived endeavor. Scratch educators from around the area have met twice already to help each other introduce creative coding to their classrooms.
Scratch, one of the first tools available to teach coding to children of all ages, is an online environment that encourages creativity and helps students develop computational thinking skills. The collaborative nature of the platform, which in many ways mimics the structure of some social media platforms, helps even the youngest students form an online identity that leads to good digital citizenship. While Scratch was not specifically designed with schools in mind, educators around the world use it and promote it. Scratch has the advantage of having a very low entry threshold, meaning that almost anyone can code a project regardless of their technical abilities. At the same time, the possibilities are almost endless. Scratch projects can be created for any purpose, in any content area. In its tenth year in existence, Scratch is still a very popular topic at educational technology conferences around the world.
The next ScratchEd Meetup is scheduled for January 17 at 4:30 at 23 Sesame Street, Richmond, VA, 23115. Join the group. Bring your curiosity and your love of learning and enjoy two hours of coding fun.
Read more about it at the Idea Stations website (http://ideastations.org/science-matters/science-news/educators-learn-new-way-teach-coding-scratch-ed-rva), and follow the #ScratchEdMeetupRVA on Twitter for updates and project ideas.
Bea Leiderman is an Instructional Technology Coach in Goochland County. When she is not working with teachers and students at school, she spends time outdoors photographing insects. You can follow her on Twitter: @BeaLeiderman