Classroom Activity: Modifying an existing Scratch Boat Race game (Boat Race by CodeClubRik: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/63957956/)
Ideally, this activity should take place after the students have been taught how to use Scratch and its programming functions. Students should be familiar with the blocks and how they work together. This particular classroom activity involves students playing the Boat Race individually or in pairs using the school iPads or computers. Following which, students should be given the opportunity to share their thoughts about the game – what they liked and what they thought could be improved. Students should be given the unplugged version of the Scratch blocks (teachers can print out the programmed code for this particular game) and asked to decompose the current program. In groups, students should use their knowledge of abstraction to identify if there are any unnecessary blocks and the most important blocks. Students work with the unplugged version and discuss possible ways to improve the current Scratch Boat Race game. In subsequent lessons, students attempt to modify the Scratch program to make the game more challenging and/or exciting.
Advanced students: For advanced students, teachers can even get students to try to form the code without seeing the inside of the Boat Race program. This will challenge students to apply what they know and understand of how the Scratch blocks work, and combine that with their understanding of the game. This is a type of content differentiation that will provide challenge for the more advanced students, which will in turn increase engagement and sustain effort according to the Universal Design for Learning guidelines.
Based on the SOLO Taxonomy model, such a modification activity allows students to work within the relational level in which students apply what they know in new contexts, provide constructive criticism to improve the program and justify their responses.
Curriculum links and Integration: Through this classroom activity, students develop processing and production skills such as develop and communicate alternative solutions and follow design ideas, using annotated diagrams, storyboards and appropriate technical terms (WATPPS29), and work independently, or collaboratively when required, to plan, develop and communicate ideas and information for solutions (WATPPS32). The program code for this activity can be integrated into the Year 6 Mathematics curriculum when students are introduced the Cartesian coordinate system using all four quadrants (ACMMG143). Students will have to understand the positions of the x and y axes and what positive and negative values on the x and y axes represent. There are also elements of angles in the program code, which can be a good way for Years 4-6 students to apply their knowledge of angles (ACMMG089, ACMMG112, ACMMG141). The understanding of movement being affected by forces can be a great way to integrate both Design and Technologies (Years 3-5: ACTDEK011, ACTDEK020) and Science (ACSSU076) into the lesson.
Criticisms/concerns: There are multiple elements in the Boat Race program. Teachers must scaffold and guide students through the many layers that work together for the Boat Race to work. For example, changes in costume and colour that have an effect on how the game is played. Teachers would need to be familiar with the entire code for this game to be confident in conducting this lesson. Students may need more guidance through the steps and teachers might wish to create their own Scratch cards so that students can follow the instructions at their own pace as well as be able to go back to check that they have completed the steps accurately.