Watching students become more confident and willing to take risks made this a very memorable experience. The 2017 spring semester was the start of my PAA journey and began with a residency in Mrs. Reynolds’ 7th grade class at Michael R. White STEM School. The goal was to reinforce knowledge of abiotic and biotic factors of an ecosystem. To a 7th grader I’m sure this sounded about as much fun as watching paint dry. To make this much more engaging, and utilize 21st century skills, we decided that they would create their own animated biome presentation using Scratch. None of the students had ever used Scratch before. They had to learn the interface and the visual scripting all while presenting accurate, standards based information to their audience. This would be challenging, and they knew it. They were very rambunctious and filled with nervous energy when the project began.
One student in particular sticks out in my mind. Let’s just say he was not the most cooperative. Initially, he was often cracking jokes, having side conversations, and generally just fooling around. He seemed to have little interest in the project. However, by the last few sessions he was leading his peers in various techniques and code application. At our final session, he was visibly upset when reminded that it was our last day together. In a weak voice he asked, “So we are never going to see you again?” I told him that I would be around the school and that he could always go online and use Scratch on his own. He then told me that he wanted to start making Scratch games and be an artist.
The transformative power of successful experiences never ceases to amaze.