Bringing Scratch and computer science fundamentals to the English classroom in Pichilemu, Chile
1 researcher & designer, 1 teacher
3 weeks of classes
Liceo Divino Maestro,
We asked fifth graders to create comics written in English. Here’s what happened.
Often, when we teach English, it’s theoretical and abstract. We make up dialogues. We read texts that were written for textbooks. What if we took a more multi-disciplinary approach?
I got this idea in my head while teaching at the Chilean Ministry of Education’s English Coding camps. During the camps, students would learn to program—but all of their instruction would be in English. Thus, they were asked to apply their knowledge of English to learn something completely new. I loved this idea of applying English. Similarly, what if we used technology as a tool to teach English?
I ran with the idea of using Scratch as a tool. Since our goal was to get students writing in English, we asked students to make an animated comic using Scratch. We used the basic Scratch blocks that give characters speech bubbles.
I worked with a local English teacher to design a 3-class project for the 5th graders. During the project, the students would create a comic written entirely in English. We used Scratch, an application developed by MIT to teach computer programming, to create the comic. Together, we developed requirements for the dialogue, asking students to incorporate vocabulary from their current unit on climate.
The 5th graders created their comics over the course of three classes. Each class lasted an hour and a half. During the first class, the students created their first programs using Scratch. During the second class, we introduced the project and students began writing their dialogues in Scratch. During the third class, students finished and presented their projects.
Over the course of the project, students had to rerun their programs many times, to ensure the dialogue timing was correct. And as the students are watching the exchange happen over and over again, they’re getting the repetition that helps us learn and remember language.
Here are some examples of what they created.