Skip to content

The Teacher’s Guide To Scratch: Book 2 – Intermediate


Excerpt From Book 2: “The four intermediate level projects are suitable for middle grades (approximately grade 5 to 8). Moving past just trying to familiarize you with Scratch, they introduce more complex concepts and methods in coding. The projects are considerably larger in scope, likely taking multiple sessions in class to complete. In Pen Tool Fun we’ll show how you can use programming to draw out geometric principles and patterns. Our Interactive Story project will introduce working with multiple scenes and inventory or story switch systems. The Snowball Fight game will explore more complex movement systems, give an example of enemy turns, and randomization techniques for games. The Big Map Racing will reveal some handy techniques for working around some Scratch limitations, some handy progress tracking, and even how you can make and use multiple levels (race tracks in this case) in a game. Again at the end of the projects there is a check in chapter to review what you’ve learned, give suggestions on teaching intermediate Scratch, as well as suggest additional intermediate project ideas.”

Chapter abstracts

Welcome to Book 2 of The Teacher’s Guide to Scratch series! This series was developed as your all-in-one guide to becoming proficient with coding in Scratch so you’ll be ready to bring it into your classroom practice. We’ve covered an introductory beginner’s course in The Teacher’s Guide to Scratch – Beginner: Professional Development for Coding Education, our first book, so hopefully you’re ready to step things up with our intermediate projects!

Before we get started with the new, intermediate projects, let’s take a moment to reflect on the Book 1 projects. If you’ve already done them, then you’ll be able to clue in to the techniques we revisit or expand on, but if you haven’t, let’s just cover the projects we did in brief and refresh some of the skills we expect readers to have to move forward with the new projects.

Computer science has been on offer in high schools for a generation or two in almost every jurisdiction in North America. It’s always been handled as an elective subject, a specialized science, just like biology or chemistry. Why does this need to change?

Intermediate Scratch is, in my opinion, the Goldilocks zone of coding education. Not too unfamiliar to be comfortable or too simple to be interesting like beginner Scratch, but not too complicated or boundary-pushing like advanced Scratch can be. Here we have a wonderful middle ground of both capability and comfort. This isn’t to say the others can’t be, but this level of learning is perhaps the easiest to work with, with less direct step-by-step guidance of beginner Scratch and less difficulty of troubleshooting than advanced Scratch. A rich, broad ground full of potential.

This project helps students explore the world of geometry and symmetry. Using one of the Scratch extensions, the Pen, we’ll start drawing simple shapes and then get a little more sophisticated with nested loops to create interesting patterns. The Stamp function will come in handy to make some snowflakes, further exploring the concept of symmetry. In about 45 minutes (for adults), we should end up with an interesting program that reveals some of the beauty of mathematics and the world of science.

Our next intermediate project is an interactive story. Here we’ll make a picture book–style story, but we’ll be using animations to bring it to life. Importantly, we won’t just make a single story; we’re going to include user input so they can drive the path the protagonist takes through our fantasy story. Here we’ll be engaged in telling the story of a wizard caught without his magic wand and having to wander through a fantasy world without the use of his magic. Can he make it safely back to the castle? The user will have to make the right decisions, with multiple possible endings to the story. In a little over one hour (for adults), we’ll build out an interactive story with multiple scenes and characters, user input guiding the flow of the story, and multiple animations bringing our story to life.

This game is a variation on the classic artillery game. The player controls a snowball-throwing reindeer trying to hit a snowman on the other side of the screen by controlling the angle and power of each throw. The snowman throws back a snowball each time the reindeer makes a throw. The player is encouraged to earn as many points as possible by hitting the snowman or stars before the snowman hits them back with a snowball, ending the game. This is a great way to practice our physics modeling in Scratch and should take about an hour to complete for an adult.

This is a single-player racing game with a huge Scratch limit-breaking map. The player will control a race car while speeding around the giant map to get the best possible time score. They’ll need to watch their driving, as off-roading will slow them down a lot, and crashing into walls will require recovery, resulting in losing precious time. We’ll learn some clever techniques over about an hour and a half to complete the project.

Now that we’ve completed our four intermediate projects, let’s stop and reflect on our progress. We’ll go over the key techniques and concepts we’ve worked with in our intermediate projects, then we’ll discuss teaching practices.

As we did in the first book in the series, the projects presented here are by no means the be-all, end-all of their concept. We developed them to be templates for you or your students to take and tweak, improve, and customize. We glossed over some areas for brevity and clarity you may wish to go back and add in. You may find yourself wanting to use different techniques for some things. This is great! We wanted you to take these projects, customize them, expand them, and make them your own. Intermediate Scratch coding is about taking things and remixing them, exploring all the possibilities and techniques. You need to be able to see ideas and make them your own – adding features, tweaking, removing, or replacing them. It’s that code surgery that helps you master understanding not just code but how code fits together and projects as whole operate.

Perhaps nothing strikes fear into teachers told to integrate coding into their classroom more than the thought of dealing with bugs, errors, and computer trouble. Admittedly, coding can throw a lot of surprises at you. Earlier, we even said bugs are a part of the process. This might not be very reassuring talk, but just like coding itself, we can prepare ourselves for these eventualities. Here’s some advice for the most common problems faced in the classroom when teaching with Scratch, in an attempt to arm you with the knowledge and practice to overcome most of the potential issues you’ll face.

You’ve now worked through, and are hopefully comfortable with, our intermediate Scratch training. Ideally, you’ll have also worked through our beginner Scratch training in The Teacher’s Guide to Scratch – Beginner to make the most of our challenges. At this point, we hope you’ve not only become comfortable with Scratch and coding but also confident in approaching new projects and have a good sense of what Scratch can do.

You’ve now got intermediate-level Scratch under your belt. Expanding your knowledge of the basics with these four projects, you should have a good idea of what Scratch can do and, even better, how to do it. When you bring intermediate-level Scratch into the classroom and get your students comfortable at this level, you’ll have a crew of digital creators and explorers. They’ll have the fundamentals down so they can pursue their own ideas and try almost anything with Scratch. They won’t always succeed, and they’ll need you for guidance, reassurance, pep talks, and challenges, but you’ll have a whole new tool to explore any concept or topic you want to cover, one that has the students drawn in, engaged, and exploring with whatever content or curriculum you need to cover.

Where To Buy It

Barnes & Noble (US Bookstore)
Amazon (US Bookstore)
Indigo (Canadian Bookstore)
Blackwell’s (British Bookseller)
Waterstones (British Bookseller)
Angus & Robertson (Australian Bookstore)
FNAC (French Bookstore)
Thalia (German Bookstore)

Project Links