Thursday, January 6, 2011

This Week's Online Find: Scratch

Got an itch to get your students' creative juices flowing? Scratch it!

Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT's Media Lab, Scratch is a programming tool that allows users to easily create interactive media, including stories, animations, computer games, video, music, and works of art -- and then share their creations on the Web. And it's free.

But is it classroom friendly? According to its Web site, "Scratch is designed with learning and education in mind. As young people create and share projects in Scratch, they develop important design and problem-solving skills, learning how to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively." Those certainly are skills that belong on everyone's core standards list.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that students quickly figure out how to use Scratch, whereas their teachers tend to need a little more guidance : ) But the Scratch site provides plently of direction, including Scratch tours, video tutorials, and an online community where educators can help one another. There's also a Scratch blog, Scratch tweets, and a Scratch wiki. How can you go wrong?

So far, nearly 200,000 users ages 5 to 69 (peak ages are 11-15; check it out) have created more than 1 1/2 million Scratch projects. Yours could be next!

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