Tag Archives: programming

Digital Citizenship and Scratch

digital citizenship Scratch

There are so many great things about Scratch: it teaches programming skills to kids, it’s fun and easy, and it’s free! Another fantastic feature is the Scratch online community. Students can browse completed projects, try tutorials, create interactive media, share, get feedback, learn from others, participate in discussion forums, and more! A bonus spinoff of this learning community is that students build essential digital citizenship skills as they interact with other Scratch programmers.

Scratch can be used offline, but there are so many benefits to joining the creative online community of Scratchers!

Starter Projects

digital citizenship and Scratch

Scratch has an extensive gallery of sample animations, games, interactive art, music, and stories. New users are encouraged to view them, look at the basic code, and modify them. The code often has tips that explain what it does. Suggestions are given for what can be changed: add sprites to a story, devise more obstacles for a game, or add sound effects. This is a great way for students to create their own unique project yet experience success early in their learning.

Look at the Code

digital citizenship see inside

The See Inside button allows you to view the programming of a project. You can see how someone else’s project works, figure out the blocks needed to create a specific effect, add part of a project to your backpack, or remix it and save it as a new project.


Users new to Scratch can follow step-by-step, animated tutorials to make a project. Alternatively, download a set of illustrated, colorful activity cards and print them for easy to follow instructions.


The motto of Scratch is Imagine, Program, Share. Budding programmers can learn by downloading and modifying the work of others. Check out how many remixes there are of a sample project in the gallery – sometimes there are over 100 different versions of the original!

When it is uploaded, the remix of another creator’s project automatically gives credit to the original author and any others who contributed to it. Students are also encouraged to write something like “Based on […] by […]” Or “Thanks to […] for […]” In the Project Notes. Citing the source is an essential skill that students must master in any research work. Learning to acknowledge an author and avoiding plagiarism is a critical part of fostering sound digital citizenship.

Build Key Personal Skills

As young people learn to program, they learn to be innovative, build logical and computational thinking, and work collaboratively. These are all important life skills as well as fundamental competencies for the careers of the future.

Foster Digital Citizenship

Using the Scratch online community, students share their work, ask for help, exchange ideas and projects, and collaborate. As students view the work of others, they can click a star to ‘favorite a project’, click a heart to ‘love a project’, or leave a comment. This support boosts the concept of a community of creators who are working together and who encourage one another.

There’s also a set of Scratch Community Guidelines, a brief outline of common sense standards:

  • Be respectful
  • Be constructive
  • Share
  • Keep personal info private
  • Be honest
  • Help keep the site friendly

As students are building programming skills, Scratch can also help them to develop safe and responsible online practices.

Computer Science Learning Standards

As educators, we agree that STEM education matters. The focus on science, technology, engineering, and math not only prepares young people for the jobs of tomorrow, but also builds the vital skills of design, logical thinking, problem solving, and trouble shooting. We recognize the need for students to develop computer literacy but more than just being confident users of technology, we want to encourage a culture of innovation. This has in turn generated a specific interest in computer science and programming as an essential component of the technology curriculum.

computer science scratch

Schools have recognized the need for students in all grades to develop a foundation in programming. The appearance of robotics in classrooms, coding clubs, and graphical, block-based programming languages such as Scratch, ScratchJr, and Blockly allow even primary students to develop an interest in being builders and creators of technology.

So now we’re committed to the value of computer science in our classrooms. But what exactly are the fundamental and critical skills that we should be teaching? A set of core guidelines can help teachers to develop computer science curriculum that introduces the fundamental concepts, engages students to develop an interest in coding, and fosters computational thinking, creativity, perseverance, collaboration, and all the other valuable skills that programming provides. Some schools, school boards, and states have written their own standards but if teachers don’t have a required set of learning standards, there are many resources available.

Here’s a list of sites with computer science standards. Is there one that works for you? Or, combine ideas and create your own.

Computer Science Teachers Association

  • clear, user-friendly set of learning standards
  • 3 levels: k-6, 6-9, 9-12
  • Strands: Computational Thinking, Collaboration, Computing Practice and Programming, Computer and Communications Devices, Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

  • includes all areas of technology
  • recently edited to include Innovative Designer and Computational Thinker as two of seven strands, reflecting the significance of process, logical thinking, and breaking a problem into a sequence of steps

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)

  • divided into elementary K-2 and 3-5, middle 6, 7, 8, and high school levels
  • programming and designing solutions first mentioned in K-2
  • high school includes specific standards for Computer Science, Game Programming and Design, Robotics Programming and Design, and many more

Next Generation Science Standards

  • search and download by level or topic
  • science-based, but includes Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science citing the importance of computational thinking, breaking down problems into smaller parts, and real-world applications
  • international; referenced by robotics kits manufacturers such as Lego (Click on Educational Standards to see Common Core and NGSS correlation in this sample) and VEX IQ (VEX IQ Curriculum Education Standards lists learning objectives for its online units)

Prince Edward Island Career and Technical Education: Robotics

  • specific to robotics in Grades 10-12
  • samples of rubrics, rating scales, reflection logbooks, and learning journals

Of course there are many more computer science standards documents online. If you have one to add to the list, please let me know!

6 Reasons to Teach Programming to Your Students

HTML and CSS Lessons for Beginners

Teach your students how to build a web page using HTML and CSS code.

Should you teach programming skills to middle and high school students? Yes!

Top 6 Reasons to Teach Programming to Your Students

  1. Learn Computational Thinking Skills:
    Programming makes a student think logically by using algorithms – step-by-step instructions to perform a function. If any of the steps are incorrect or inaccurate, the result has an error. Learning to code requires students to build, practice, and reinforce this type of analytic thinking.
  2. Build Problem Solving Strategies:
    Making an error when coding results in immediate feedback: “Something is wrong!” The ability to review, diagnose, and edit code as well as the perseverance needed to solve problems are not only important for coding, but indispensable life skills as well.
  3. Practice Higher Level Thinking Skills:
    Language, Math, and Social Sciences teach comprehension, recall, and application learning processes. The analytic aspect of writing code is a valuable higher level thinking skill. Programmers often refer to the task of coding as ‘learning to think’. The designing, planning, and creating aspects of programming also build these advanced cognitive competencies.
  4. Prepare for Career Opportunities:
    Computer Science is the ‘new literacy’ for the next century. Computer programming is a valuable skill in the digital age. Jobs for computer scientists are growing with the demand exceeding the supply. Programming is not just a key skill in the information technology industry, but in many other areas, for example:

    • Manufacturing – designing ways to improve products and production techniques
    • Healthcare – managing research data, patient information, security
    • Retail – handling inventory management and projecting trends
    • Weather forecasting – developing models to predict severe weather
    • Arts – creating digital music
    • Financial services – managing trading and ensuring security
  5. Create Technologies, Don’t Just Learn to Use Them:
    Technology products used today will quickly become outdated. If we focus only on teaching students how to use devices such as computer apps, smartphones, and tablets, they become passive users. Students can develop a deeper understanding of how digital devices work, how they are created, and how they can be improved by studying the coding needed to run them.
  6. Empower Students:
    When students successfully complete a coding challenge, they feel a real sense of satisfaction and gratification. Students are motivated and engaged in coding tasks. Seeing programming come to life as a web page, app, or other result is exceptionally rewarding.

Consider adding computer programming to your technology curriculum. Your students will benefit right away and in the future.

If you are planning to teach programming refer to the TechnoHTML5 project. It has HTML and CSS lessons for middle school and high school students. The activities are perfect for beginners. Don’t worry if you are new to coding. The instructional materials include detailed assignments, assessment tools, sample files, templates, and enrichment activities. View HTML and CSS lessons from TechnoHTML5.