The goal of bringing gaming into a learning environment is not just to play games. it is to push our students’ thinking in new directions. While Gamestar Mechanic was the main site for our summer camp program, I also wanted our young gamers to have some understanding of the architectural of video games — peeling back the layer of the screen to see what’s under the hood, so to speak.
Scratch, a free programming platform from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a great way to begin. The coding is fairly simple and intuitive — sort of like snapping together Legos — and you can make some basic animation and games with just some basic tinkering with programming code.
A resource here at Digital Is by Laura Beth Fay (Remixing Work, Deconstructing Learning, Abstracting Thought: How Computational Thinking Altered a Language Arts Classroom) was also helpful to me as I considered the possibilities of Scratch for learning, particularly as it relates to student engagement and our own conceptions of composition.