Concluding Education Week 2015 and Using Scratch in your Classroom

thanks to Penny Rowe from the Digital Learning Branch for this week’s blog post

The Great Victorian Coding Challenge, hosted by DET last week was a huge success, with 132 schools across the state registering. Congratulations to our three winning schools, Watsonia PS, St Kilda Park PS, and Mitcham PS who were the lucky ones to be randomly drawn for the prize, a specialised visit to Quantam Victoria.  All students demonstrated impressive skills using the coding software Scratch, available through EduSTAR.

Three different coding challenges inspired teachers and students to engage in the challenge, with webinars offered in preceding weeks to support teachers and students to confidently get involved.  The coding challenges targeted different age groups, and included creating a character to draw different shapes, animating a character to explore a maths concept, and creating a game to explore a maths concept. All competition entries can be viewed here:

Screenshot. (48) Success comes in many shapes and sizes, and the challenge saw students not only develop coding skills, but also collaborate amongst themselves and between schools, engage in problem solving, and applying critical thinking to their tasks. DET Digital Learning received a range of positive feedback from teachers and students, excited about the challenge, painting a picture of students engaged in their learning across the state.  One teacher reported that

“…the grade has had so much fun working with Scratch – this is our first time ever… I am really proud of all of them (entries).  The grade wants to continue with making monthly challenges for each other on Scratch so I think we have only ‘scratched’ the surface!”. 

Another teacher reported

“We only started using Scratch at the beginning of the term but the students are very excited and motivated to use it. We had the first few weeks using the Scratch cards so they could learn how to do some basic things but, since I’ve let them work in groups to create their entry project, the excitement has increased amazingly. All I hear when I walk around is “I wonder if we did this…” or “How do I do this….and they often go back to the cards for help or break down their problem into smaller parts. Many groups are madly coding…”.

If you missed out on this year’s challenge, and haven’t used Scratch, it is worth taking a look at the Scratch site. More and more schools are discovering the benefits of using it as a learning tool. Scratch enables learners to create stories, games, and animations, and share their projects globally through its online community. One of the greatest benefits of Scratch is that it can be used to meet learning needs of all stages of learning…and it’s free. Scratch-2-editlarge
Here are some links to the resources provided to schools to support them with the challenge, they may be helpful with getting started with Scratch:
Help resources for teachers and students:

Support webinars were hosted both with teachers and students.  They were recorded and for later viewing.  They can be accessed by using the links below:

The PowerPoint presentation from the webinars can be accessed here. Use them to discuss the challenge with your students or to find out helpful information about the challenge. The success of the Coding Challenge and Education Week has been well received within the Digital Learning Branch, but probably the greatest triumph has been that so many more of our students across Victorian schools have been exposed to the joys of coding.

The success of the Coding Challenge and Education Week has been well received, but probably the greatest triumph has been that so many more of our students across Victorian schools have been exposed to the joys of coding.

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