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DRAFT: Computer Programming

Now that you have had time to play with Scratch, this assignment will have you digger deeper into how to implement computer program and the advantages and disadvantages of using the software with middle school students.  

Task 1: What are students learning?

What are students learning by creating programs using Scratch? Talk about the benefits that students will get using the software to create programs and also what problems you foresee parents having with assignments that require students creating programs using Scratch?

Task 2: Create a lesson

Create a lesson that uses computer programming to assess a mathematical skill. Make sure that your lesson includes (1) an online tool that will review prerequisite knowledge that the student will need to complete the task successfully (2) the goal and requirements of the program the students will be creating (3) an exemplar of a program that you either create or find on Scratch’s online community (4) directions for students on how to post to the online Scratch community and give feedback on other students’ work.

Task 3: Post lesson and give feedback

Post your lesson in the online community that will be used in the Blended Learning week. View at least two other students lessons and post comments and critical feedback on what you liked and how they can enhance their lesson.

Task 4: The controversy

Should computer programming be introduced into a middle school level math curriculum? Why or why not? What other tools can be used to help support students who are new to programming? In addition to your own personal reaction to these two questions, I would like you to also research an article that supports or goes against your stance on this issue. Include the link and a summary of the article and compare it to your own personal reaction.

Task Discussion

  • Lisa Ritt   April 3, 2013, 7:23 p.m.

    Hi Gina,

    I LOVE Scratch...although Im one who is quite intimidated by the computer programming thing, its a huge reason for me to believe that it IS something that should be used or at least introduced in middle school. Its like a new language. I'd love to develop by SCRATCH abilities. I had both my daughters (10 & 13 yrs old) try it and they both immediately thought it was cool and something they'd go on again at home....just for fun! 

    I'm looking forward to becoming better at this!



  • SueSullivan   March 27, 2013, 10:15 p.m.

    I love the concept of your tasks; the relationship between programming (which results in tech) and math is so important, but it can be so hard to separate the two in order to teach effectively.  My main question is:  Do you want us to concentrate on Scratch alone, or explore other learning environments/languages that students might use, such as Eclipse/Java, as taught in Arcadia's CS201, which is required for many MathEd students on the premise that it's 'prevalent' and addressed by AP exams (that's what I was told)?   

  • Gina Mulranen   March 29, 2013, 8:15 p.m.
    In Reply To:   SueSullivan   March 27, 2013, 10:15 p.m.

    Hi Sue!

    I was also going back and forth with introducing other computer programming languages into my tech week. I emailed Dr. Droujkova and she said that it might be too much to learn a new language, especially if they have not taken a programming class before, and then implement it into a lesson. There is SO much that we could do with computer programming, but I wanted to stick with one concept in order to keep with the essence of time. Also, if we all used different programming languages, then we would have to learn them all in order to be able to give proper feedback on each other's lessons. That is why I kept the computer programming week to just Scratch. However, please feel free to add in commentary about other programming languages when responding to Task 1 and Task 4.

    Thank you!


  • Katherine Hanisco   March 25, 2013, 12:04 a.m.

    I like that the 4th task mentions looking for an article that is opposite to our own stance. I think it’s important to consider all viewpoints on issues related to our classrooms since those views will inevitably come up with administrators, parents, other teachers, etc.

    Building on Megan’s comments above, can you clarify task 2 for me? I’m a bit confused about the first part. Is this something students would do on their own as a review?

    I like that this assignment builds on prior work both with using the classrooms we created as well as digging deeper into Scratch. I’m excited to look at Scratch again with the knowledge gained from the past weeks of this course.

  • Gina Mulranen   March 25, 2013, 4:23 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Katherine Hanisco   March 25, 2013, 12:04 a.m.


    I appreciate your feedback. Can you read my response to Megan's comment and let me know if that clarifies the task for you? I want to make sure my directions are clear and I really appreciate your feedback on how well that style of lesson plan would work.

    Thank you!


  • Maria Droujkova   March 24, 2013, 7:09 p.m.

    It's nice that your task builds on the Blended Learning task!

    The first question is very open - which may be your intention. I wonder if people would get in trouble with where to start (and where to stop!). I would ask for examples of what people can learn, and maybe specifically, of examples how programming supports learning mathematics. But you can choose to keep the question open as is, too.

  • Gina Mulranen   March 25, 2013, 4:24 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Maria Droujkova   March 24, 2013, 7:09 p.m.

    Yes! How programming supports learning mathematics is exactly what I want students to assess about Scratch. Thank you for clarifying.

  • MgnLeas   March 24, 2013, 12:43 p.m.

    I like this task overall. After playing around more with Scratch, I like it a lot. I have not given much thought to what the students would be learning with respect to the program. For part one do you want us to find a particular Scratch clip that someone has created or just give our ideas?

    For part two, we are creating the plan using Scratch correct? What type of math skill should we be assessing? I am also a little confused with the first question, should the tool be something other than Scratch? Any help would be nice. Thanks.

    I like that you are building of the blended learning week!

  • Gina Mulranen   March 25, 2013, 4:21 p.m.
    In Reply To:   MgnLeas   March 24, 2013, 12:43 p.m.


    In response to your question about part 1, I am actually looking for problem solving skills and other engineering skills that students are using when creating programs using Scratch. I will make sure to revise the language when posting that part.

    For part 2, I intended to have you create a lesson where the students will be creating a program that relates to a certain mathematical topic to show their understanding. For example, let's say the topic I chose is properties of triangles. I create a lesson where students have to chose a property of triangles and create a program illustrating that concept. Here is my Scratch program on angles in a triangle and classifications: The online tool for the introduction of my lesson could be something like this:

    I will make sure to include this example when posting this part of the assignment to clarify these instructions. Thank you!