Tag Archives: scratched

Week 4- Workshop Project: Defining and Planning

cube of RubikHere it is.  We are midweek through the crazybusy last week of school, so I have not been able to do much with CCOW except for watching the office hours while packing up my little office/classroom for the summer.

I have been dreading the project part of the workshop because I had too many ideas and many of them were larger than I think I could tackle in 3 weeks.  One of them is worth mentioning just to get a link in here.  There is a good start to an Introduction to Scratch handbook on Wikibooks that is incomplete.  I considered seeing if a group of people would be interested in joining wikibooks to work on completing this scratch book.   It could turn into a project which is waaay larger than the scope of this workshop. It would involve collaborating with another online community and learning it’s culture and way of doing things.  And I think, to a certain degree it would be re-inventing the wheel because the Scratch wiki  contains all the information such a book would have and more, and it is actively maintained.  Also during my too brief explorations of the Resources section of ScratchED, I think that there are plenty of other easily accessible Scratch primers and activities, so this one is not needed.

That got me thinking about Objectives, aka learning goals, aka purpose, aka What are we supposed to do, aka what do I what to do.  My objectives and goals for participating in this online workshop are individual, as are those of each of the other participants in the workshop.  And the facilitators each of reasons (objectives) for participating in CCOW.  Not only that, but each person in the process may have multiple (sometimes conflicting) goals.   For instance, I know that the lead facilitator of CCOW, Karen Brennan, stated that she wanted to try to organize a MOOC using a new google platform that allows one to design and host online courses.  That sounds like a fine personal professional learning goal for her, and we all are benefitting from the fruits of her work on that goal.

But what are my learning goals for participating in this workshop?  I had to reflect on that a bit because in my teaching I often start doing the planning and teaching before I fully realize my objectives.  (I think this is a reality in any kind of teaching and learning environment).

  • I signed up because I have been teaching Scratch to elementary students  (and to other teachers) for about 3 years but I always feel that I never have the time to play with it myself– to really get under the hood and relearn to code.

1)  I want to master SCRATCH so that I can better teach it to my students, and so  that I know more of it’s potential uses (particularly in the elementary grades that I teach).

This spring my nephew got a rubiks cube.  When I was 13, I could solve a cube in under a minute, but I had completely forgotten how.  This spring I bought a couple of cubes and relearned how to do it.  I love problem solving puzzles (like sudoku) and I forgot how much I enjoyed the sheer muscle and brain stimulation of trying to solve a cube as quickly as possible.

The rubiks cube was left behind in a time in my childhood when I was also fascinated with the early personal computers (TI-99, apple II, and commodore 64 primarily).  From the time I was 13 to about 16 I programmed all sorts of things in BASIC, PASCAL, and a bit of assembly language.  I haven’t really programmed since, except for learning the basics of HTML and CSS, and the tiniest bit of Javascript.  I forgot how much I enjoyed programming.  Also as a podcaster, blogger, songwriter, creative-type 21st century internet denizen, I have come to realize that if you want to be more than just a consumer of media, you need to have a basic understanding of how to code.

2) I want to learn how to code again… not  just as a subject to teach but as a creative outlet for myself.  While I have been thinking about CCOW and doing the work of the workshop, I have also been investigating other ways to learn programming.  I have downloaded a bunch of `Teach Yourself Python` resources and I have signed up for the Android App Inventor site (which is based on scratch).

3)  I want to read more about and reflect upon Constructivist principles in my teaching and learning.  I have been enjoying some of the underlying philosophy behind SCRATCH and CCOW… alot.  I know that SCRATCH is based on a constructivist approach,  and I know that the facilitators have intentionally structured the course based on constructivist principles.  But I want to learn more about the basic philosophies, core principles, key writings and proponents, of the constructivist school of learning.

Given these 3 objectives here is a first try at framing a project idea:

I want to learn to code.  I would make the leap from Scratch to Python, which is a more multi-purpose language.  I could use it to code for the web or to make apps for my handy android phone.

So…  I will try to use a ‘How to code in python’ manual  as a guide to create a game in scratch.

In this way I will become familiar with some of the basic structure and syntax of python.  I want to use my growing knowledge of SCRATCH to make myself a rosetta stone to understand other programming languages– (like python).

 I need to dig into some online and downloaded resources, but I think I will try to use a tutorial on how to code a game such as reversi using Python.  If this looks too challenging to adapt to scratch I will choose a simpler game. 


My writing/thinking time is just about up for today,   When I revisit this post I want to flesh out my idea to get more specific about which python/scratch resources I would need and narrow down what game I want to make.  I also want to start to answer the Key Questions for Week 4- Workshop Project: Defining and Planning.


    1. Workshop project problem/exploration/question statement
      What is the problem you’re trying to address? Maybe it’s not a problem, but rather an area of inquiry to explore. What is the exploration or question that motivates your project? Can you express this in no more than 3 sentences?
    2. Workshop project format
      How are you thinking about responding to your problem/exploration/question? What will you be making or doing for your project?
    3. Workshop project needs
      What do you need in order to successfully make progress on your project? Do you have access to the resources that you need? What do you still need to figure out? Is it a big Scratch project, a series of mini-activities that explore advanced concepts, a proposal for a learning experience, new resources for young learners, or something else entirely?
    4. Workshop project plan
      What are the steps for getting your project done? What is a timeline for getting it done?
    5. Workshop project keywords
      What are five keywords or tags that describe your project?


Week 3 Roundup

This week has been quite busy at work with finishing report cards and all the end of the year assemblies and activities.  Just 4 teaching days and 1 PA day to go.

On to my CCOW activities this week.

Cumulative Activity: Games:  In this week’s “big project”, you’ll develop a game — a Scratch project that includes interactions between sprites, score, and levels.

Follow My Song

I was quite excited to try coding a classic pattern game like Simon.  I also wanted it to be a bit of a musical primer so I based the tones on a pentatonic scale.  The game does not have overt scores or levels but it does change in difficulty and speed as the pattern gets longer and longer.  This game is a classic.  Simple enough to need no instructions other than “Follow My Song”, but difficult enough to keep people wanting to play it more.

My imagination kept introducing `feature creep’   with ideas like making alternate costumes for the sprites like piano keys, guitar frets and flute and trumpet fingerings, and making a standard set of variables so that I could code a kind of framework or API to make music games using scratch.  In the end, it was enough of a challenge just to try to make compact, simple code to show the sprites, change their colors, and detect key presses and see if they match a pre determined pattern.  I ended up making 8 almost identical sprites (one for each note in a major scale).  I am pretty sure I could have done this using lists, multiple clones of one sprite, and variables to change the color and tone of each sprite.  In the end it was just easier to duplicate 1 sprite 8 times and change the code for each individual note.

Somewhere between the keypress and my broadcast to check it against the random list of the computer’s pattern, a glitch appeared in that it does not call game over until one press after you make a mistake.  Thus if you make a mistake on the last note of a pattern, you get to go to the next level.  I have not figured out how to solve it because I can’t find the error in my reasoning or in my code to check the pattern.

One of my third grade students told me that I should just say that this is part of the game, because it is fair to give people 2 chances.  I think I’ll stick with her answer, although the glitch is still bugging me.

Readings:  Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling society (Chapter 6). New York, NY: Harper & Row.

I have not had alot of time to flesh out my thoughts, but I’ve been thinking about how much Illych’s article on education webs foretold what we are doing here.  We have a MOOC with over 1900 members, from all over the world.  We are the self selected peer group, the facilitators are  expert support. We have wikipedia, coursera, and quick access to almost all academic literature, books, and media throughout history at our fingertips.   I think Illych would have quickly grasped the possibilities of the Internet for self-directed learning.   How else does our experience in this course resemble what Illych was describing?


  1. I made a post with this week’s Debug it activities on Sunday.
  2. Levels— I read through this activity and but did not do the assignment of looking for different ways people code levels using scratch.  I think I have a good handle on different ways to have levels in games with increasing speed, increasing difficulty, a change of scene or more adversaries with greater skills.
  3. Score:   In this activity, we needed to remix Fish Chomp by adding a score using variables.   Here is mine:


I added a countdown timer to make the game last for 60 seconds, and gave one point for each fish caught. I also added a global High Score Variable stored in the cloud. That means that you can compete against other scratchers for world bragging rights.

I added a Start Game broadcast for the purple fish because for some reason I had to press the green flag twice to get them to move and react with the yellow fish. It didn’t do that in the sample code, so I think it was something to do with my timer code or my if-then-else blocks.

Questions:     What is a variable? A variable is a letter or name that can have a “variety” of values.  Its value can vary.
 How would you explain variables to young learners?  I think that giving variables literal names like ‘score’ and ‘time-left’ can help them to make the connection between what is going on in the game and the idea of variables in math class.  I think the first time the concept of variables really clicked for me was when I was 12 or 13 and learning to program simple games in BASIC.  I think the same thing could happen using SCRATCH with young children.

4.  Interactions:  In this activity, we were given 9 specific tasks to try to code.  Here are my Interactions:


  •  Questions: Which puzzles did you work on?,       What was your strategy for solving the puzzles?     Which puzzles, if any, helped you think about your game project?

I got cute and tried to do them all in one project.  This was actually more difficult because some of the activities interacted with the others, creating more complexity.  After about 2-1/2 hours, I stopped with about 6 of them done.   Below each task I reflect on how I did it and answer the questions.

    • Whenever you press the B key, the sprite gets a little bigger. Whenever you press the S key, the sprite gets a little smaller.    This was pretty straightforward.  I programmed the cat to grow and shrink with these keys, and made it move with the arrow keys.
    • Whenever the sprite hears a loud sound, it changes color.  I did not do this one, but I have a pretty good idea how I would do it with the sensing blocks.
    • Whenever the sprite is in the top 25% of the screen, it says “I like it up here.”
      I made a sloping background and had the cat say this above about y 100.  The hardest part of coding this was the code to make sure the characters could not walk into the sky.  I did this with a `not touching green statement` so that it would also not walk through other sprites.
    • When the sprite touches something blue, it plays a high note. When the sprite touches something red, it plays a low note.
      I did not code this one either.  
    • Whenever two sprites collide, one of them says: “Excuse me.”
    • Whenever the cat sprite gets near the dog sprite, the dog turns and runs from the cat.
      I had the dog move towards the cat then turn a 180 and move back 50 steps.  It fulfils the task but makes for a yo-yo frenetic effect.
    • Whenever you click on the background, a flower appears at that spot.
      I used clones of one flower sprite.  When the stage is clicked it chooses a random color and size.  I also had a random location, then changed it to the position of the mouse pointer as per then instructions.
    • Whenever you click on a sprite, all other sprites do a dance.
      I did not do this, but I think I was going to do a loop with the whirl effect forward and back on the flowers.  I did end up using this technique with a looks block in my `Follow my song` game the next day so thinking about this challenge helped.
    • Whenever you move the mouse-pointer, the sprite follows but doesn’t touch the mouse-pointer.  At first I had the cat then the dog follow the mouse pointer, then I added the butterfly because it was tricky to add this code along with the other things I had the cat and dog doing.

Random Coding Fun

Last week, the facilitators introduced a change to the process of submitting and reviewing design notebooks.  Now we just need to submit the link to our design notebook (or noteblog), then choose peer notebooks ourselves from a numbered list of all the submitted notebooks for the week.  One of the participants on the forums requested a way to choose a random notebook on the forums.   kb8ywp used SCRATCH to code a perfectly useful, but visually plain  Random Notebook Number Generator

On a whim, I remixed it to add a bunch of randomly placed notebooks, and included a cloud variable which remembers when someone enters the number of notebooks for the week, so you only need to re-enter that number if it has changed.  My changes were mostly cosmetic, and not needed, but it made for a fancier Random Notebook Number Generator remix.

Here it is nearly midnight on a Friday night. I think my CCOW week 3 is finished. I`m looking forward to the next three weeks and my self-directed project, but I still have no idea what that might be. I`m sure something will come to me. And only one more week of doing both schoolwork and workshop work. Yipee.

Week 3 Debug It

DebuggingTime for Week 3’s Debug it activities.  I love how the facilitators use broken code to teach new coding concepts in this workshop.

Here are this week’s challenges.

  • Debug each of the five Scratch programs in the Week 3 Debug It! studio.
    • Debug It! 1
      In this project, the “Inventory” list should be updated every time Scratch Cat picks up a new item. But Scratch Cat can only pick up the laptop. How do we fix the program?
    • Debug It! 2
      In this project, Scratch Cat gets 10 points for collecting Yellow Gobos and loses 10 points for colliding with Pink Gobos. But something isn’t working. How do we fix the program?
    • Debug It! 3
      In this project, Scratch Cat is thinking of a number between 1 and 10. But something is wrong with the guess checking — it doesn’t work consistently. How do we fix the program?
    • Debug It! 4
      In this project, the “# of hits” display should increase by 1 every time the Scratch Cat is hit by a tennis ball. But the “# of hits” increases by more than 1 when Scratch Cat is hit. How do we fix the program?
    • Debug It! 5
      In this project, Scratch Cat is navigating a maze to get to the yellow rectangle. But Scratch Cat can walk through walls. How do we fix the program?

None of the challenges stumped me this week.  In fact I usually found the bug on my first pass through the code.   I think I have internalized many great problem solving strategies over the years.  But for debugging and when looking at code I tend to ask myself 3 questions?

  • What is this code supposed to do?
  • What is it actually doing?
  • How can I fix it?

This can then lead to:

  • How else can I fix it? 
  • Or: What is the simplest fix?
  • And: How can I change or extend the code from here?

I think it is important to teach children that in programming, as in life, there are many different ways to get to the desired outcome, and some are easier than others.

Here are my solutions and reflections on the challenges.

Debug-It 3.1 remix In the code for sprite4 (the laptop), it looked for when it was touching (sprite1– the cat) then disappeared and added the laptop to the inventory.
The code for sprite 2 (cheesy puffs) was looking for when it touched sprite 3 (the lamp) were and the code sprite 3 (the lamp) or was waiting to touch sprite 4- the laptop. Because only scratch moved, he only ever picked up the laptop. Solution– change the code blocks for sprite 2 and sprite 3 to look for when they touched sprite 1.

Tip– change your sprite names to descriptive names like cat, laptop, etc… so it is easier to see where there may be an error.

Debug-It 3.2 remix In the code for the yellow sprites, if it was touching the cat, there was a block that said to add 10 points to the score then hide. In the code of the pink sprites it said to wait for touching the cat then gave no further directions. I added the blocks to add -10 points to the score and hide the sprite to each pink sprite. Problem solved.

*Note to self. In the example they set up separate code for 6 pink and 6 yellow sprites. I think you could add more variety to the game, and less chance of bugs by using the clone sprite function and some random generators for to vary the number of each kind of sprite, their location, and even how often they appear on screen.

Debug-It 3.3 remix: Simple error. In the code checking if the secret number was greater than the guess it checked if it was < the guess. I just had to change the code block to if secret number > guess.

*note to self: I suppose I could have just reversed the conditions to ‘if guess is < secret#’ and that would have had the same effect.

Debug-It 3.4 remix: What was happening is that the hits kept incrementing while the ball was crossing Scratch for multiple hitcounts for each contact. I added a block of right after the hit count incremented and before the repeat. This made the counter increment only once for each contact.

Note to self: It would be neat if the ball bounced off of scratch when it hit him. One method I saw online was to add “point to sprite1” then “turn 180%” to have it bounce off the other sprite in a roughly realistic bounce. I think the accuracy of the bounce would depend on how large the sprites are and how scratch determines the location of a sprite. How does it do that? Does it use one of the outmost corners for the x,y value or a mean of the x and y values? I need to do some research and experimenting on this one.

Debug-It 3.5 remix:: I added this code to detect when Scratch is touching green walls. Forever {{If touching green then move -10 steps]}
*An alternate would be to only let him move if he is touching the white path. This would enable him to navigate a multicolored maze, as long as the path was white.

Week 2 Overview- Alice in Scratchland

Alice in Scratchland

When I first wrote this post, I thought I had completed Alice in Scratchland for the Scenes assignment of Week 2 of CCOW.  Then I went back and added Characters using {Make a Block} to define two character’s unique behaviours.  Then I added just enough puzzles and gameplay that players start to get drawn into Wonderland.  Then I added a final scene with an invitation to remix and continue the story.  So, In large part, this one project encompasses  over half of my week 2 activities.



This assignment was primarily to experiment how sprites and stage backgrounds can be used to change scenes in scratch.  I felt like I did this already in my About me project last week, but I gave it a go.  I went with an Alice in Wonderland theme.  Use the arrow keys to move around in the vignettes.

  What does the Stage have in common with sprites?   The stage has backgrounds, while sprites have costumes.  It is possible to change the appearance of each.   Stage Backgrounds differ from sprites in that they are fixed in place, and can have no motion or size effects.

 How do you initialize sprites in a scene?   You can hide them at the green flag until a certain background comes on or have them react to a broadcast command from the background or another sprite.
 What other types of projects (beyond animations) employ scene changes?   Games, especially 2d platformers, slide shows, digital story books, demonstrations and simulations.  Pretty much any application in scratch may use scene changes of one kind or another.
   How did others use backdrops in the studio?   To change colors or moods, to show pictures, to advance a story, or to show another screen in a game.

MartyH. made use of scenes and recorded narration to tell the wonderful story of Sadie and Fluffy.


The Make a Block Feature is a way to blend a variety of actions into one command unique to a sprite.  For my 2 characters, The White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat, I used make a block to define those actions and movements that make the character unique.   The White Rabbit starts upstage left and moves toward the rabbit hole or the door with a distinctive double hop then step forward.  Randomly, he stops to say he’s late or other typical White Rabbit sayings.  I used a randomized list to mix up about 7 sayings.  Here is the script for the white rabbit.


For the Cheshire Cat, I used a costume of just eyes and the {ghost} effect, along with some random code to have scratch pop up anywhere on the top half of the screen at any time.   This gave the Cheshire Cat his characteristic feature of randomly appearing in the story.


Make a blocks are a great new feature of Scratch, which enables you to automate custom, repetitive or distinctive actions into one command.  This can make the rest of the scripts much more compact and easy to understand.  It is great for giving characters unique features, but it could also be useful to define certain algorithms or computations used as part of a larger program.  I can think of a teaching program for 2-d geometric shapes where you could define a block that would draw  each 2-d figure, ie) rectangle, square, octagon, etc…

Pass it On…  Remix Challenge.

It is nearly 150 years since Alice`s Adventures in Wonderland were first published and the story is beloved around the world.  I am interested to see where other people take my starter adventure with Alice and her companions (if anyone does take up the challenge with all the other potential remix projects to choose from).

 What is your definition of remixing?

As a folk singer, photographer, songwriter, elementary school teacher, podcaster, and recorder of public domain audiobooks (whew?),  I have come to realize that we stand on the shoulders of giants.  All creative endeavours borrow somewhat from the creativity of others before them.  I am passionate about the public domain and preserving this treasure of our forbearers which we can use to retell their stories, and remix to tell our own.   I try to use creative commons or public domain sources, such as open clipart as much as possible for these reasons.

How did it feel to remix? How did it feel to be remixed?

People are very proud of their work.  They can be quite protective of it.  But I have learned to let mine go into the world and see what stories it brings back to me.   For instance, here is a story from my songwriting blog a few years ago.  Take the time to listen to the podcast.  It is a great story.  (and it has an Alice in Wonderland connection too).

Filed by Sean on November-29-2009
 Special- King of Carrowocky [ 7:44 ] Download (5102)

This story is too random and too cool to fully explain.  Go ahead, try to explain the story in this podcast to your 1990 self.  I bet you can’t do it.  It began for me on November 24 when I received this tweet from Adam Gratrix @transpondency of theTranspondency Podcast.

RIAA’s Crafty King of Carrowocky http://bit.ly/7tgD4O mashup ft. @Sean_McGaughey http://bit.ly/7H9IL5 Librivox reading of Jabberwocky.

Listen to the show to hear what happened next.

Links in this show:

Jabberwocky on Librivox.org

Mr. Fab: The Crafty King of Carrowocky

I love adding new words to old melodies or a new twist to an old story.  It is important to acknowledge and give credit to those whose work you build upon.    Having said that, I get sloppy about giving specific attribution for each of the images in my scratch projects.  I have to get better about that because I know how people who freely share their work love to hear back about how it was used.  I think I will go back into my projects and give proper attribution for the images.

     What are the opportunities and challenges with this activity for your students?  

Attribution is a huge one.  They just don’t understand or care about the issue of having permission to use images and media in their own works.

For my own remix, I chose: Jazzy the Outward Hound by rrtika.

I took rritka’s original concept, added a doghouse from http://www.clipartdb.com/gif-dog-house-115.htm and turned the story back on itself to change the ending?

It was interesting working with another person’s code. She handles turning around by making another costume. I just set rotation to left-right and point it in the other direction.

Here is my remix: Homeward Hound


Debug It

Earlier this week, I posted my Week 2 Debug It solutions.


Conversations Between Sprites: Week 2- Penguin Jokes

Week 2 Wrap-Up

This week I ran into several limitations of Scratch, particularly  when I wanted to enable cloud based lists to make a database of user submitted Knock, Knock jokes in the Conversations activity.  Then I realized that Scratch is not meant to be a robust, all purpose programming environment.  It is necessarily constrained and limited to introduce children to key programming concepts.  Once they develop an understanding of these general programming concepts, they can move on to other fuller-featured languages.


Conversations Between Sprites: Week 2- Penguin Jokes

The assignment:

Start by seeing inside the Penguin Joke project. Observe how the author animated the conversation between Penguin and Nano using wait blocks. Remix the Penguin Joke project to use the broadcast and when I receive blocks (instead of using wait blocks).

So I remixed it using broadcast blocks as per the assignment.
Then I wondered if I could combine some define your own blocks with a script and a list of data, and some loops to make a random knock, knock joke teller. So after the fish joke, Penguin starts choosing randomly from a list of knock knock jokes.

Then I got the idea that every few knock-knock jokes (25% randomly), penguin will ask the user to type in a knock-knock joke to be added to the list. I was going to try the cloud data feature to make a massive user contributed list of knock-knock jokes. Alas, the feature to have cloud based lists has not been implemented yet. It is still a good idea, and I like the added interactivity I added.


How would you describe Broadcast to someone else?
The Broadcast feature is a way for different elements of a scratch project (sprites, stage) to interact with another.  You can set up a broadcast for when a certain event or condition is met during the program.  Other sprites can listen for the broadcast then  {When I receive (command)}. they can carry out a certain task or script.

When would you use timing in a project? When would you use broadcasting? 

I would use timing when there are a fixed number of unchanging sequential events.  I would use broadcasting when there are a variety of possible outcomes that can come in sequential or random order.

P.S. I got some of my Knock Knock Jokes from funology.com.

CCOW Week 1 Wrapup- About Me.

About Me Project

My About Sean McGaughey scratch project is the final assignment for week one of the Creative Computing Online Workshop.

What was surprising about this activity? 

While I was making this project I used several other tools:  openclipart.org to find images, Audacity and Reaper for sound editing, and GIMP for image editing.   These are all great tools, but I was surprised by Scratch’s built in paint and recording tools.  They are more limited than full featured editors, but they definitely can get the job done.  In the future, I may use of the paint and sound recording tools in scratch as an introduction to graphic and sound editing, before I showed them more dedicated tools.

How might you adapt it for the learners that you support?

This project is open ended, so it can easily become huge for overachievers (busted), while other students may need more structure before they design their program.  I think I might present the class with these questions before they began?

  • What do you want to share about yourself?
  • What images and sounds do you want to include?
  • How will your audience interact with the program?
  • What style will you present it as (ie. a game, a presentation, a story, a movie, etc. ).

Wrap-up of my week

This is my first experience taking a MOOC and I am enjoying it so far.  One thing about taking an open-ended, independent study course is that I am going to have to take care to set clear boundaries on the size and scope of my scratch projects or this course is going to take way too much of  my limited available time.   June is one of the busiest months at school here with report cards, Grade 8 graduation, and tons of end of year activities.  I wish the workshop would have started in July.

I began the week by moving my blog from edublogs to it’s new home at edalchemy.mcgaughey.ca.   

Here are the rest of my posts for the week.

    1. Time to Get Scratching
    2. I Love A Parade- Step by Step Intro
    3. I Know an Old Lady– with 10 blocks
    4. Week 1 Scratch Studios Activity
    5. Week 1 DeBugIt

I’m looking forward to next week’s activities and to getting to know some of the other participants.



Week 1 DeBugIt

Summary of the Debug It  activity:

Debug each of the five Scratch programs in the Week 1 Debug It! studio.

    • Debug It! 1
      When the green flag is clicked, both Gobo and Scratch Cat should start dancing. But only Scratch Cat starts dancing! How do we fix the program?

    My solution:  This was an easy one.  I clicked on the sprite for gobo and it’s script did not have a ‘when green flag clicked’ block on top of the code so I added it.

    • Debug It! 2
      In this project, when the green flag is clicked, the Scratch Cat should start on the left side of the stage, say something about being on the left side, glide to the right side of the stage, and say something about being on the right side. It works the first time the green flag is clicked, but not again. How do we fix the program?

    My solution:   At the beginning of the script, right after the ‘when green flag clicked’ block,  I added a block to ‘go to x:-120, y:0’.  This will give him a starting position on the left.

    • Debug It! 3
      The Scratch Cat should do a flip when the space key is pressed. But when the space key is pressed, nothing happens! How do we fix the program?


    Iniitial code:  This one stumped me.  I tried it with and without the top block, I tried placing in a when green flag block, I even tried replacing the 4 blocks with 4 “point in direction __’ blocks. Then I tried it with only 3 blocks and the problem became apparent.  The code was working just fine– just too quickly for the eye to see.

Solution: Put one ‘Turn 90 degress’ block and a ‘wait 0.25’ seconds block in a ‘repeat 4’ block.

    • Debug It! 4
      In this project, the Scratch Cat should pace back and forth across the stage, when the Scratch Cat is clicked. But the Scratch Cat is flipping out — and is walking upside down! How do we fix the program?


Another simple fix.  Click on the little blue ‘i’ on Sprite 1 below the stage to open up sprite properties.  Change rotation style from the circle (360 degrees) to the <-> symbol.   It will now just turn left and right.

    • Debug It! 5
      In this project, when the green flag is clicked, the Scratch Cat should say ‘Meow, meow, meow!’ in a speech bubble and as a sound. But the speech bubble happens before the sound — and the Scratch Cat only makes one ‘Meow’ sound! How do we fix the program?


I rearranged the blocks from Say -> Repeat -> Play ->   to  Repeat [ -> Say-> Play]


 What is one debugging strategy that you used?
     How would you help someone else learn how to debug a project?

I have difficulties answering because I just did it.  But my problem solving process seems to ask myself a series of questions:

  1. What is the code supposed to do?
  2. What does it actually do?
  3. Are there any obvious errors in spelling, order or logic?
  4. How can I fix the errors?
  5. How can I work around the errors?

Obviously it is more desirable to fix the problem, but sometimes a workaround will allow you to achieve the intended results (although it may not fix the underlying problem, and it may create more problems).


In answer to the second question, I would help someone debug a project by saying the above internal dialogue outloud, so that they can see that debugging is a process of asking questions and trying out different solutions.

Week 1 Scratch Studios Activity

Mr. McG’s Scratch Picks Created: 05/06/2013 Owner


Today’s activity was pretty straightforward.  Go to the explore page on SCRATCH to find some interesting scratch programs and collect them into a studio Studios on Scratch are just a way of collecting a set of links to scratch projects into a group.

Here is Mr. McG’s Scratch Picks,  a few exceptional scratch projects that I want to show my students.

The Studio feature could also be useful for gathering all the projects from a class into one place, for making a series of lessons or presentations, or for exploring different themes and interests.

I use a variety of this kind of list curation techniques on my other blogs and podcasts. Very often for online (or face to face) conferences like CCOW, I will make a Twitter Lists of participants, then embed that list into my blog for a handy stream of comments from fellow participants.  On my Catholic Roundup podcast website, I keep a directory of jhundreds of other Catholic Blogs and podcasts, which I maintain using Google Reader’s bundle feeds feature.  Now that Google Reader is closing, I am looking for a new way to manage large lists of feeds and embed them on my website.

As a teacher, librarian and blogger, I’m always looking for easy ways to organize, curate and share links to- ‘The Good Stuff’.   The only feature I would like to see in scratch studios would be to have a widget that could be embedded into other websites showing the list of links in the studio.



I Know an Old Lady– with 10 blocks

10 Blocks Scratch Activity

Today for the Creative Computing Online Workshop  I tackled the 10 Block Challenge.  This is a constrained coding activity where you can only use the 10 blocks pictured above.  I went waaay overboard on time and scope on this one.  I recorded an acoustic version of  The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,  then animated the story using Scratch.   Once again, I found my images on the wonderful OpenClipart.org repository of PD and CreativeCommons clipart.  Click on the green flag to begin then on any of the characters to see what happens. If you want to look at the code, you can view it on My Scratch Page,

The main animation and interaction of the program uses just 10 blocks, but the characters need to be manually reset to the beginning each time, so I cheated and added a ‘when green flag clicked’ block to each sprite to give it the starting position and size.  This is a pretty standard way to start a SCRATCH program so I think I just bent the rules not totally broke them.  

It was challenging but also liberating to work with the constraint of only 10 blocks.  Also the script for each character is very similar, but I tried to give them each their kinds of movement to give them a bit of personality.

With the blocks we were given I know the animation is very crude and flat.  I worked with this constraint and thought of it almost like working with paper cutouts– the characters stay oriented exactly the same and do not change, so I made it a feature of the look.

As with any coding it took a lot more time than I expected, and I had a couple of hiccups.  I initially had it set up so that when you clicked on each character, the verse for that character would play, but the scripts would not start to move the character until the music stopped.  It seems that the only place you can put continuous background music is on the background.

I Love A Parade- Step by Step Intro

My first coding activity for the Creative Computing Online Workshop  was to follow the Step by Step Intro tutorial on the scratch website and then build upon it to make a simple dancing sprite.  The drumbeats of the sample program suggested a marching band to me, so I changed the cat sprite to a marching band graphic found on OpenClipart.org and I decided to have a parade to mark the opening of the workshop.  Enjoy.

What was surprising about the activity? I have done some programming in Scratch so thought I was beyond the introductory tutorial, but just getting used to the new web interface took some time.

How did it feel to be led step-by-step through the activity?  I felt a little constrained, and just wanted to PLAY!
As a learner (with Scratch and beyond), when do you like having more structure?  When I am seeking out direct instructions on how to do a specific subtask or operation I would like a concise answer.

When do you like having more freedom?  When I am trying to solve a problem.  (ie-How do I get this band to stop?).
When do you feel most creative?  When I have enough knowledge and skill to attempt a task with some chance of success, but only enough knowledge and skill to be dangerous…