How Scratch Coding can be incorporated into School Curriculum for kids
In the K-6 Science and Technology syllabus, thinking skills such as computational, science, system, design, critical and creative thinking are key. This helps kids to tackle everyday problems, unfamiliar information and form new ideas effectively (NESA, 2021). Therefore, incorporating Scratch coding into kids’ everyday learning within school curriculum and syllabus teaching, benefits and assists them to achieve the broad learning outcomes they need (NESA, 2021).
Why Scratch Coding is Important for School Curriculum development?
The NESA Statement of Equity Principles, the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (December 2008) and in the Australian Government’s Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (2013), it is of key importance for young Australians to develop the general capabilities outlined by school curriculum, amongst others such as ethical and intercultural understanding, literacy, numeracy and personal and social capabilities. These include understanding the cross-curriculum priority subjects of Aborigonal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, sustainability and Australia’s engagement and relationship with Asia (NESA 2021).
Developing a better understanding of these capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities in school and as outlined within the New South Wales (NSW) school curriculum, amongst others across Australia, helps kids to encompass the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours to guide them to live and work successfully in the 21st century (NESA, 2021).
Developing a learning program that includes the general capabilities of scratch coding, and making this compulsory as part of the NSW school curriculum to meet necessary learning outcomes may seem foreign to most, but as outlined by PIEX’s Founder, Liling Ong, this is more than possible, as all aspects of coding can bring forth a project and challenge-based learning program into everyday schooling and teaching for kids of all ages.
How can a Scratch Coding Game be Educational?
Liling and her team of advisors which include a school principal, and university lecturers in Primary School teaching, developed a comprehensive lesson plan combining the digital technology and thinking skills mentioned above, using scratch coding games like Apple Catcher, and differentiated it to meet the required Stage 1 outcomes outlined in the NSW school curriculum in areas such as speaking and listening, digital literacy and technology, numeracy and the physical world. In so doing, this becomes a great learning program that incorporates the key English and literacy skills for kids to develop listening for specific purposes and information, including instructions, extending their own and others’ ideas in class discussions (ACELY1666) (NESA, 2021), allowing for pairing, collaboration and teamwork opportunities.
In addition, kids in Stage 1 will also learn to use coding to solve problems whilst developing their computational and system thinking skills (ACTDIK001) (NESA, 2021). They will also get to develop their general numeracy capabilities and learn the required skills, counting forwards and backwards, influencing the algorithms and processes they will use in the Apple Catcher scratch coding game. As such, this challenges them to create their own Apple Catcher project using weather and the seasons as their inspiration, such as using the capabilities of scratch coding and animation design to create raindrops using flowers. In the process they create ‘sprites’ (the digital image icons/characters on the scratch computer screen) and produce the computer scripts (instructions) to control them (Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2022). In turn, also allowing kids to be able to showcase and communicate their observations and ideas in a variety of ways and explore when it comes to the Physical World as outlined by the NSW school curriculum (ACSIS042) (NESA, 2021).
How are Cross-curriculum Priorities Included in Scratch Coding?
The learning program created by Liling Ong and her team not only gets kids to explore and use scratch coding to create the Apple Catcher game through exploring the variety of uses of digital devices and computer language processes (ACTDIK001), outlined by the NSW school curriculum, but also differentiate their learning by incorporating the cross-curriculum priorities. These include incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, and the importance of sustainability in Australia (NESA, 2021). Thus, young learners in Stage 1 through this cross-curricular subject matter will replicate the same activity as the Apple Catcher scratch coding game, and in turn will get to explore and reflect on the Indigenous Australian interpretation of the seasons, enabling them to develop a stronger understanding of and address the contemporary issues faced by Indigenous Australia.