5 - Differentiation is Necessary
For Workshop programs, independent goals, books of varying levels, notebooks and lots of conferencing does the trick. We all know the difficulty of putting the same learning goal on 30 students who have varying capabilities!
Hour of Code is perfect for your newcomers. Each level in the "game" builds on the knowledge from before, providing students with challenges, successes, and new skills.
Scratch 2.0 is a next natural progression, but if you have never been on the site, you might not know where to start. That's what happened to me. Then I saw this book! I bought six copies as student references, so they could learn the language and build or adapt games, before moving on to independent creations.
Your independent learners are probably teaching the teachers along the way. Maybe they're already participating in MOOCs or developing Batch Code. Give them space and time! Watch them grow! Learn with them or stand back in awe!
4 - Mentor Texts are a Must
Same goes with Scratch! There are two ways you can do this. You can open the Tips section to examine a game that's similar to the one you are building and click through the instructions, or you can go to the Explore section of the website and "See Inside" the game, checking out how others work through tricky bits of code.
Just like writing, you must always give credit where credit is due. Scratch 2.0 knows this and, has a section set aside for you to acknowledge other Scratchers and games which helped you create your masterpiece!
3 - Put Leadership in Student Hands
Some of our students will be natural explorers and will have picked up important skills. Giving them the chance to show other students how to accomplish tasks is great for them. It not only takes the pressure off of you in a busy room, but gives them the chance to develop leadership, reinforcing what they've already learned.
Use the teach and pass it on trick. If there is a small skill which a number of students will need, show it to one or two people, telling them the deal is they have to teach the next people who ask, making sure the next students know they will have that responsibility too. Watch the learning grow!
2- It's Open-Ended
Scratch has a similar capability. Use the coding blocks to build endless animations and games. The added option of uploading your own backgrounds and sprites extend the boundaries even further.
1 - Sharing the Finished Product
Posting games to the school websites or student websites is another idea.
Give Scratch a try! You and yours will have tons of fun!
To play my Flashback to the 70s Pong game, click on the green flag! Make sure you get another person to play with you! Instructions are embedded into the game.