New York / London Scratch games link up


At last week’s London CLC technology and computing teacher conference, keynote speaker Miles Berry reminded us of the wisdom and relevance of Seymour Papert;

“children need to experiment, they learn best by making things to show to others”.

This is a great description of our aims for a Scratch games link up with a school in New York. I had visited Global Neigborhood Secondary School in East Harlem, NYC, as part of a CfBT Education Trust study visit during the Easter holidays. The school works with  Global Kids; a Hive funded not for profit organisation, which works with schools and out of school programmes in New York. Like London CLC,  Global Kids supports schools and students through partnership work, which brings learning experiences using technology and culture to urban communities. Observing the students at GNSS working with inspirational Global Kids teacher Sara Vogel to create Scratch games around a social justice theme, I immediately saw the potential of encouraging a conversation between her students and the students we work with in South London.

Global Neighborhood Secondary School, East Harlem, NYC.

This term the students at GNSS and Crown Lane Primary School have played each other’s Scratch games and made video critiques of these games. Here are the games made by Grade 6 students at GNSS.

1) The Journey of an Immigrant Kid

2) Don’t Get Caught by the Bullies

3) Animal abuse game

Next academic year we plan to get around time difference and timetabling challenges and set up Google Hangouts between the students. This is what the Crown Lane pupils, who are part of the Digital Leaders after school club, wrote about connecting with the students in East Harlem;

“When we made the games, it made me feel really nervous but excited at the same time. We’re all really excited about children playing our games and we’re really proud of them.  It was unbelievable to know children in New York would play our games and nerve wracking to know strangers would try our games.  I think we tried harder with them knowing we were making them for a more special reason than normal.It was kind of weird knowing children the other side of the world had made games for us and would see our video!
The games were hard but very fun. we love programing!!!”
Ruth Grimwood, the ICT subject leader at Crown Lane and AST for London CLC, described how linking with GNSS and Global Kids had helped her pupils.

“I know playing the games from New York certainly inspired them on to develop their ideas further and to put more detail in their games – they felt the bar was raised and they wanted to do well so that the other children enjoyed the games.  They loved making the games for a ‘real’ audience rather than just for a school project .” 

We are all looking forward to developing our games making partnership with the Global Neighborhood students and Global Kids next academic year.

Digital-Leaders-playing-Scratch-games
Crown Lane digital leaders playing NYC students’ Scratch games

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