I am currently teaching a unit on Basic Coding to my grade 7 Design students. The first few weeks of the unit are skills-based classes. Each day, I introduce a few skills to the class and then the students play and create a basic animation or game on Scratch demonstrating their newly acquired skills. I give them formative feedback on what they have created.
Over the years, I have gotten much better at differentiation and always pre-test in one form or another at the beginning of each unit. I have identified skills that the whole class needs and I definitely wanted to make sure we had a common language for the concepts and skills of this unit.
I found a video tutorial from Clint’s MYP Design blog which was a good tutorial teaching the viewer how to double jump with the Sprite in Scratch. It had some general background information about Scratch and I really liked the part when he shows how to make the Sprite move naturally.
But, how did I want to share this with my students?
Should I just mimic the skills and do it myself on the screen? This would work.
Have the students watch it on their own time? This would work, too.
However, I ended up having them watch it all in the class via the projector.
I felt a bit weird about this. It is a twenty minute tutorial. It’s not just a quick video I’m showing at the beginning of class, this is a substantial part of my class. They are paying tuition for me to teach. Was this a lazy way out? Did this discredit my expertise? These were all things going on in my mind.
It ended up being one of the best things I have done in a while.
I became my own resource teacher.
I was able to watch the students as they worked through the tutorial. I saw students who struggled with coding. I saw students who struggled with following the instructions and going from the big screen to their screen. I also saw students flourishing. I saw students helping each other. I wasn’t caught up in delivering the content and I was able to really see the kids and where they were.
When students left the class, I gave them an exit card asking them how they felt learning this way, what they learned in the class and what they struggled with, needed more practice on, or wanted to now learn. Many of them liked this approach. Some of them wanted to watch the tutorial at their own pace and pause it on their computer.
I haven’t had a resource teacher since I was a Language Arts teacher many years ago. I forgot the power in actually helping while the students were receiving instruction. I was able to really “see” my students – from the back of the room, watching how they synthesized the tutorial they were watching.
I was lucky to find a great tutorial, so I didn’t have to spend the time creating one. Luckily there are hundreds of Scratch tutorials. I did spend time in watching quite a few the past few weeks to make sure they are good quality, have a low “cheese” factor and explained what I wanted it to.
Why don’t you try it. Go ahead, be your own resource teacher. Share how it goes!