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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…

Time to Get Scratching

When I initially set up this blog, I thought it would be a place for me to participate in discussions and ruminations with the online community of educators as part of my virtual PLN.  In reality, I have used it rarely, and when I do, it is as a virtual notebook or backup brain for when I am doing professional development activities.

This is exactly how I am going to use it for the next six weeks.   I have enrolled in the free 6 week  Creative Computing Online Workshop hosted online by Harvard University this June 3- July 12.  The focus of this workshop is to develop proficiency in teaching programming concepts using the SCRATCH programming language.  I will be using my blog to document my learning during this workshop.  Scratch is a visual programming language developed by MIT to teach children basic computer science and programming principles by snapping together lego-like blocks of code.  I have been teaching Scratch to children for about 3 years.

June is a very busy time of year for teachers in Canada.  The last day of school is June 28, and we have provincial standardized testing, report cards, end of year activities, and Grade 8 graduation before then.  However, this winter I completed February Album Writing Month, so I am no stranger to sneaking in a large creative project on top of work and home.

For my first scratch related post, I’m just going to paste in the page of Scratch resources I prepared for a workshop on Scratch for my colleagues at SCDSB Minds On Media 2012.

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