Blog Post

Scratch Packs: Integrating Personal Relevant Themes in CS

December 22 2020 · By McKay Perkins

At BootUp, we often receive requests from teachers for pre-made materials to help them as they integrate coding into other subject areas. Integration serves two key purposes, both important:

Purpose #1 - When integrating coding in science, social studies, language arts, or math, teachers can introduce “new content” (i.e. coding) into the classroom while still satisfying the need to teach core subjects. While many teachers feel introducing coding instruction to young learners is invaluable, it is still an expenditure of time. Integrating coding with the core subjects has the ability to alleviate some of the demands on that time.

Purpose #2 - Some classify coding as a new medium for instruction and learning rather than “new content”. Therefore, coding enhances the learning experience in other subject areas. Coding and computer science give students enhanced tools for creating more immersive learning experiences. For example, where elementary students would simply color pictures, with coding, they can create interactive animations. Where they would work on worksheets, now with coding they can create working models. Where solving math algorithms was abstract and seemingly had no clear function, now mathematical algorithms enable students to make things happen in a computer program. Integrating coding and computer science can enhance learning in all areas.

Both purposes of integrating coding are important. In an attempt to give attention to both, and meet the requests of teachers, I’ve created an Integration Scratch Pack resource to support teachers to create their own Scratch Pack and integrate computer science using a particular theme. Rather than give a premade, or canned coding activity, this resource empowers teachers to create personally relevant, innovative integration activities for their students around a theme the teacher chooses. While this resource alone won’t answer all teacher questions for coding integration, it will serve to help teachers get started.

To teachers familiar with BootUp’s curriculum, this resource intentionally looks very similar to our Coder Resources developed by our Curriculum Director, Jared O’Leary. The tutorial format of our Coder Resources is remarkable at helping teachers learn in conjunction with doing. I wanted to create integration content that did the same, that is, teach in parallel with creating a finished product that can be used and integrated into a core-subject classroom.

I give credit for the idea of Scratch Packs to Dr. Peter Rich, who tutored me as his research assistant and student in the Instructional Psychology and Technology department, at Brigham Young University, along with fellow assistants Sam Browning and Tim Shoop.

To get started, please follow the Integration Scratch Pack Resource.

Introduction to Scratch Packs

Coding Integration
Scratch Packs
Computer Science

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