Poetry Through Scratch: A New Twist on an Old Standby
The first unit I developed using Scratch centered around an activity I have done in my classroom for years. In September I always have my students create Name Poems. It is a simple activity that the students have probably done on numerous occasions in the past, but it helps me to learn their names and also to get them used to the writing and sharing environment of my classroom. The students wrote their poems and then we moved into the computer lab where I introduced them to Scratch. In Scratch, the students gave a visual representation to their poems and then animated these representations with movement and sound.
The results of this first interaction with Scratch were amazing. The children had produced the same type of poems that my students have been producing for years, but when transformed into Scratch projects, their writing came alive. I learned more about my students from viewing their programs than I ever had before from just words on the page. For example, Jacob, who created the project above, was able to illustrate not only his passion for art and his silly side, but the type of media and content he is drawn to through the visuals and movement that accompany his work.
What amazed me even more was that it wasn’t just the end result that got me excited. The process of creating the programs was something that both the students and I were immediately addicted to. I finally felt that the excitement level of my students while writing matched my own while teaching. As I walked around the room and conferenced with students who were writing and creating in Scratch, I saw that spontaneous collaboration was happening. Also, students who were usually quiet or felt uncomfortable contributing to discussions started to take on leadership roles, showing small groups of students around the room how to make something cool happen in the programming.