Thursday, 16 February 2017

Monday, 6 February 2017

Using Scratch to make an image with a transparent background

One of the things I love about Scratch is the built in image editing abilities. I find that for many simple tasks Scratch works just as well as more sophisticated programs like Photoshop. One use that I find I often use it for is for deleting the background from an image so that it has a transparent background. Here is how it is done:


   Click on the File folder in the sprite area to upload the file you want to edit.


Choose the costumes tab in the work area to Edit the image.

Select the paint bucket tool  and the slash (nothingness) colour


Click 3 or 4 times quickly in the exact same spot somewhere in the background. Everything that is the same colour (or close to the same colour) will be deleted. You may need to touch up with the eraser tool.


To Save the file right click on the costume icon an chose “save to local file”. You can now use the image in any other program you wish!




Lesson Task Files

A number of people have requested that I share the "Tasks" for each lesson, so here they are!

Task 1: Moving Left right (simple)
Task 2: All directions
Task 3: Conditions
Task 4: Smooth Move (Moving Left right with Conditions)
Task 5: Gravity and Velocity
Task 6: Jumping and Barriers
Task 7: Levels

Tech Woes

The grade sevens had a bit of a bumpy start in the new year. A large number of them forgot their passwords over the holidays so they were unable to log in. We have discovered a bit of a hick-up with the password reset process. It seems that the verification emails and password reset emails are not making it to the student emails. I wonder if the issue is with some kind of blocking through the district. The teacher account sound like it could be a good solution but three teachers in the district have tried signing up, both with school district emails and with gmail accounts and none of us have received a verification email yet. My guess is that you need to use a school district email in order to verify that you are a teacher, but that the district is somehow blocking emails from scratch.

In the meantime, students are going to use the offline editor or use the online one without logging in by uploading and downloading files. This will work with the SetBC laptops, but not with the Ncomputing lab because it will not let you download files from the web (so frustrating!) It's a bit cumbersome and time consuming but it's the only option we have for the moment. The inability to verify emails is also making it not possible for students to "share" their project online, even if they did remember their passwords.

Friday, 16 December 2016

The grades sevens meet their grade three clients

Much has happened in the weeks since our last post. Last week we were finally able to connect with the Grade 3 students who had chosen favorite books. After the grade threes were shown a demo of a game, they were asked to think about their books that they had chosen and what a game might look like if it was about their book.

Each grade 3 student was partnered with a grade 7 student and they spent the first 20 - 30 minutes reading and sharing their books.

Next the grade 7 students interviewed the grade threes and helped them put together a plan for their game including the artwork for their sprites. Some of the artwork was drawn completely by the grade  three students, while in other cases, the grade 7 students took on the role of artist, guided by suggestions given by the grade three clients.

It was really interesting to see the discussion taking place in the classroom. Everyone was on task and engaged.

Both classroom teachers noticed the depth of engagement with students who typically struggled with focus. I had originally feared that the the discussion would be somewhat scripted and based on the interview worksheet that the sevens had prepared, but instead I noticed a lot of authentic discussion regarding game development.

 I noticed in some discussions the very nuanced ability to steer the discussion in very productive ways. Because the grade 7 students had already spent some time coding, they knew the limits of their abilities and were able to steer and re shape grandiose plans into goals that were reachable.
Below is one such discussion.It is a little hard to hear due to all of the talk occurring in the classroom at the time, but their body language shows the dept of their engagement.

More Photos:


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Colaboration, the pros and cons of working in partners

Task 4:
In our original plan we had envisioned the students working together in partners to plan and develop their programs. Because the first few lessons were done individually it wasn't until task 4 that students were actually placed in partnerships. We found we had mixed results. Most pairs worked well together and I saw some good discussion occurring as they were planning. Unfortunately most got camera shy as soon as I pulled out the camera. There was only one pair that was not working together well and as a result the student who was removed from the activity and the remaining student was paired with another student from a pair who had already completed the activity. During the programming phase, I noticed that there was a lot of off task behavior by students who were not operating the computer at the time, especially with the students who struggled with attention issues.. We decided to try giving all students computers  after the paired planning phase during the next task to see if on task behavior improved.

Below are some short videos of the Task 2 planning and programming:

Planning Together:

We have a plan:

After students were finished with their task, they were encouraged to try to figure out an extra challenge:
Time for a Challenge - a good idea: