Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a reunion of the workshop I attended at MIT this past summer on Creative Computing. A lot came out of that original workshop for me. I adopted Scratch for my 8th grade technology classes. Inspired by the fabric-oriented high-low tech lab, I am doing a soft-circuit project with middle schoolers as part of a special project week we have in the spring. I also solidfied much of my basic knowledge about programming and because of that, was able to forge ahead to learn more complex programming concepts. So, it was a very productive 3 days that have had a lasting impact.
In a single day, I got almost as much out as I did before. One thing that was nice about this go around was that I now had actually been in my classroom so I knew more about what I was looking for, what questions to ask, etc. The advice people offered made more sense than it did back in July when I hadn’t even started my position yet. Now, I’m ready to explore a wide variety of things, including using Pico boards with Scratch and using Scratch in my Upper School animation class, something I was inclined to do before, but after seeing some animations demonstrated yesterday, I am now thoroughly convinced. I’m thinking about using Pico boards with the soft-circuit project I’m doing with the middle schoolers and may explore using them next year in 8th grade, especially for students who have some experience with Scratch. And I saw some really cool projects from non-computer science classes that have inspired me to plan a workshop/demo on Scratch that highlights some things that Scratch might be used for outside of CS/Technology classes.
Besides all the great Scratch info, I also got some ideas for arduino boards as one of the graduate students there pointed out a programming environment for them that is “drag-and-drop.” And I found out about a project–which I ran into spontaneously again this morning–where one can build blocks for Scratch, essentially taking it to another level.
And, of course, it was really fun to see people I’d seen this summer, including another Laura with whom I did not get a chance to talk much last time and with whom I have a lot in common. She is three years ahead of me in a similar position to mine, so it was lovely to get some advice from her and to see where I might be in a few years’ time.
The last week or so has been really productive for me as I’ve worked on several different projects and got many plans in place. Going to this reunion really helped keep that productivity streak going.