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One of the foremost educational Constructivists and a developer of various educational tools that engage young people in new types of digital design activities and learning experiences is MIT's Dr. Mitch Resnick, director of the Lifelong Kindergarten at the Media Lab.

     Please listen to his  Let's teach kids to code  

         video- it is a SCRATCH world-wide favorite!

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    the CONTACT tag above

Computer Fluency

   The much talked about notion that most children are "digital natives" may be a fallacy. Compare the use of computers to the use of any given language. To be fluent in a language entails not only the

ability to read/understand a language, but equally as important, the ability to be able to write and communicate to others in the written word of that language. Undoubtedly the younger generation has a greater familiarity with digital tools -browsing, gaming, texting, chatting, and setting up devices are almost second nature to them, but sadly, that is not the equivalent of "language writing" - it's just usage: in a sense they can read but not write.

   To be able to truly master fluency with technology, youngsters must be able to create and express their own ideas, by writing their own computer programs or code segments. The need to learn coding skills is being propagated by organizations such as Google (Made With Code), Girls Who Code, Black Girls Who Code and sites like Codecademy, Code.org, Codeschool.com, hourofcode.com.

   The Nation of Estonia decreed a couple of years ago that all first graders should learn to code, shortly followed by Great Britain and nations such as Finland, Italy and Singapore. The effort does not target students with special mathematical or technical skills, but rather affords youngsters an opportunity to share projects across all academic fields using animated stories, science projects, virtual constructs, original games, political polls and tutorials. In general, any idea can be developed on a virtual stage using Scratch.

   Scratch is an easy to use coding language where you snap blocks together to write code. Developed by Dr Mitch Resnick's Media Team at MIT (scratch.mit.edu) it is a vibrant community with thousands of users and contributors and has millions of examples in all types of categories (Animation, Games, Interactive Art, Music and Dance, Stories and Video Interaction). Coding with Scratch also allows users to interact with the physical world around them - it provides a bridge between the physical and the digital worlds, and it very importantly, provides 100% access to the code that generate the projects. In this sense, the process of learning to code quickly converts coding itself as a tool to learn. As an example, students develop a functional definition of what it means to use different types of variables, without the names or burden of clear mathematical definitions. 

   By using Scratch, students are offered the ability to learn to think clearly, from fuzzy input to polished outcome. They can become very familiar with the core process of design, through experimentation, reduction of complex ideas to simple parts, team collaboration, debugging and troubleshooting. Kids learn to strengthen their ability to face frustration via resilience and persistence. 

   The acquisition of the coding fluency skills mentioned above does not mean that Scratch will turn children into future computer scientists or professional programmers, no more than learning to write will turn anybody into a professional writer. The basic skills of thinking creatively, reasoning systematically and working collaboratively are universal skills useful in any professional endeavor.

Coding Academy: Scratch