Dr. Mitchel Resnick MIT

Learning With Video Games

Digital fluency for the 21st Century Student ISTE Standards.pdf extends beyond basic computer uses of email, word processing and websurfing and into the realm of using tools for collaboration, creative purposes and critical thinking. Students who participate in the imaginative world of video games and interactive web sources find creating video games creative, engaging and fun! Teachers can capitalize on this interest to create projects that build on student interest to combine literacy, math, art, planning skills and logical thinking. Projects can be shared on the Scratch website as communities of learners around the globe share their projects and learn from each other.

Blending Art and Technology

Mitchel Resnick, from the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT, has created Scratch, an object-oriented programming language that lets children program animations with art, music, images and text. This builds on his work with PICO crickets that use logo and programmable blocks to create exciting hands-on projects. Resnick’s years as a student of Seymour Papert’s led him to create Scratch to exemplify constructivist methodologies integrated easily with multi-media tools. With Scratch, he goes further and builds in a social networking piece that builds in sharing with a community of learners.

How does Scratch work? Check out the YouTube video below for a quick tutorial.


Creating Video Games with Students

Here's how you can get started:

1. Download Scratch from the website here.
2. With the help of the Reference Guide, explore with your students to learn the basics of Scratch.
3. Depending on the project you decide to create, provide your students with some planning sheets and guidelines for project requirements.
video game planning sheet.pdf
4. Many project ideas can be found on the Scratch website.

Tips for Getting Started with Scratch

After many introductions with classes, here is what I've found to be a good strategy to get started. After students understand the elements of these 3 sessions they will be able to plan, storyboard and create simple video games or presentations. I caution you that Scratch is meant to be learned through a lot of play, exploration and collaboration, as students will develop expertise in different parts of the application (eg. animations, games, sound, painting unique sprites). This is a guideline only, but I've found that in working with a whole class, Session 1 makes really good sense in order to keep the introduction successful and motivating.

Session 1

  1. Explain the interface (preview screen, script writing area, categories of blocks)
  2. Explain the difference between sprite view and background view
  3. Show how the sprite moves forward and drops a pen
  4. Working with students, generate a script that has the sprite make a square and you'll cover:
  • changing number of steps
  • turns
  • repeat
  • forever command
  • show them how to put a 'clear' block from the pen section in order to clear the pen markings
  • if green flag is clicked block
  • presentation mode
5. I then show them how to change the background, and the sprite costume and challenge them to create other shapes

Session 2

This session is about creating animations (changing costumes), and adding words and sounds (some kids figure this out intuitively in session 1, but it's good to go over it will all of them in session 2). A good challenge is to create two sprites on the page and have them engage in a knock-knock joke or some type of response back and forth. Having the two sprites animate by changing costumes is a good idea now.
If on edge bounce - this is a good block to teach now as it will help the sprites so they don't move directly off the page.

Session 3

Now you need to make sure students understand how to view the coordinates, how to have a sprite glide to certain coordinates and how to begin to make 'if then statements' e.g. if sprite x touches 'colour red' then it disappears or a point is scored. You can set up a few mini-challenges to support learning these kinds of scripts.

Resources for Scratch
Teacher Created Scratch Challenges