Celebrating CSEdWeek in the classroom with Scratch and ScratchJr

Seven educators share how they foster creativity, collaboration, and innovation in their classrooms

By My Nguyen

During Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), young people around the world participate in activities that demonstrate the transformative power of computing in our everyday lives. Drawing on their interests and passions, many students use the Scratch programming language to create interactive stories, animations, and games. Younger learners may use ScratchJr, an app specifically designed for pre-readers.

Across academic grades and experience levels, students can see themselves as creators, and not just consumers of technology. In classrooms, teachers can act not only as facilitators, but also as active collaborators, co-learners, and champions of creative computing.

To highlight and celebrate the meaningful programming experiences and connections being made during CSEdWeek, the Scratch Foundation spoke with seven educators about the creative learning environments they’re fostering in their classrooms.


Rick Bush teaches middle school technology arts and helps weave computer science into class projects at Raleigh Hills K-8 in Beaverton, Oregon. His favorite thing to do with Scratch is to show students “how to make a button for Makey Makey using cardboard, copper tape, and ethernet wires, then use Scratch to make a noise.” According to Rick, “Someone always seems to figure out how to make a whoopee cushion.”

By participating in CSEdWeek, Ricks hopes that students will feel more empowered to solve problems.

IMAGE CREDIT: Rick Bush

What is one strategy you have for inspiring creativity, collaboration, and innovation in the classroom?

It’s really important to have fun projects that bring together a few disparate concepts or have a real-world application, like a robot dance party or a 3D printing project that solves a real problem faced by people at our school. The project — along with a classroom culture that expects mistakes and failures — creates the condition for students to show off their creativity and personal experience.

How can educators embrace and encourage students’ different experience levels and abilities during programming activities?

Like Dr. Mitchel Resnick said in the Learning Creative Learning course, “low floor, high ceiling, wide walls.” The best projects projects have an easy entry-point, but have a lot of possibility for students to incorporate personal interests and take their final product to the next level.


Stacey Wallwin is the Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching Contact and District e-Learning Coordinator with Superior-Greenstone District School Board in northwestern Ontario. Stacy supports all learners — both students and staff — in their journeys with coding and computational thinking.

Stacey believes that CSEdWeek “opens up the world and endless possibilities to students, allowing them to be the creators of technology, not just consumers.”

IMAGE CREDIT: Stacey Wallwin

How are you engaging students with creative computing during Computer Science Education Week?

During CSEdWeek, Superior-Greenstone District School Board is engaging our students not only as learners but as leaders. We are co-learning with local mayors and Chiefs of Police. During the Hour of Code, we hope to not only empower our student learners, but to strengthen and celebrate our community partnerships.

What have you learned about facilitating creative learning experiences for students?

What has been the most powerful lesson for me is that as the teacher I do not need to be a coding expert. It’s worth the risk to integrate computational thinking into our classes, and our students deserve it! By simply willing to be a lifelong learner and co-learning alongside our students, we can do amazing things together!


Javier Montiel is bilingual teacher, instructional designer and e-ducation technologist in Texas. Javier is participating in CSEdWeek to “motivate my English language-learners to learn about computer science and to make them aware that computer science could be an alternative career to the manufacturing jobs that are often offered in our communities.” During the week, students are collaborating and exchanging games with international students in Mexico and Spain.

Right now, Javier is learning how to integrate Arduino with Scratch so that his students can program a robotic arm.

IMAGE CREDIT: Javier Montiel

What does Computer Science Education Week mean to you?

I still remember when I was in kindergarten in Mexico, I spent hours playing with a Commodore 64 computer. I created games and loved to design static spaceships made just by keyboard characters. It was a magical moment for me when my dad taught me how to program those 8-bits computer sounds and I learned the ASCII code characters. To this day, I still remember those ASCII code. Computer Science Education Week provides a foundation for my students to build more elaborate skills in the future. For my students, it is a great experience to see that many kids around the world are learning, coding, and solving challenges.

How can educators embrace and encourage students’ different experience levels and abilities during programming activities?

Even though I work in a one-on-one campus, I like my students to work in pairs using one computer to foster teamwork, problem-solving, and most importantly, language acquisition. Working in pairs with different academic abilities helps to reinforce what students are learning.


As an instructional technology resource coach in Shenandoah County, Virginia, Chanda Greco provides professional development for teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms.

Following CSEdWeek, Chanda will continue to collaborate with teachers to integrate coding activities and Scratch into their everyday instruction so that students’ experiences with coding can go beyond technology class. She believes “it is important that students can see practical ways coding and programming can be used in their other content areas as well as their life.”

IMAGE CREDIT: Chanda Greco

How are you engaging students with creative computing during Computer Science Education Week?

In a 6th grade science class, we are adding a coding twist to an old project. Mrs. Lisbon’s science classes create a raindrop journal every year to assess the students’ knowledge of the water cycle by detailing the life of a raindrop in journal form. This year, we are making the journal “interactive” utilizing Scratch and Makey Makey. Students add their own voice recordings and explanations to their journal. This can be done in multiple ways and is a pretty open-ended project. Students are given the tools and freedom to represent their journal however they wish as long as they can explain the process.

What have you learned about facilitating creative learning experiences for students?

Facilitating creative learning experiences can be messy on many levels. Remaining a facilitator and not giving into temptation to bail students out when they run up against an impediment is crucial. Students need our support when they succeed and fail, but they need to be the ones to figure out the answer in the end.


Completely self-taught in technology and programing, Alexis Cobo initially planned to be a rabbi. Now, she works with second and fifth graders at Lower School Computer Science & Technology Specialist and LEGO League Robotics Coach at Pine Crest School.

During CSEdWeek, Alexis’ students are combining tools, concepts, vocabulary, and skills learned to design virtual dance parties and interactive “All About Me” collages with Scratch. They’re also remixing the Google Logo project from Google CSFirst to sharpen their skills.

IMAGE CREDIT: Alexis Cobo

What is one strategy you have for inspiring creativity, collaboration, and innovation in the classroom?

My favorite strategy to foster creativity, collaboration, and innovation is through the use of “pair programming.” When students work together, they are able to use each other’s imaginations to build bigger and more playful projects while learning how to constructively seek feedback. They also often feel as though they are playing a game when they test their projects on one another.

What have you learned about facilitating creative learning experiences for students?

Students need physical and emotional space to feel comfortable, confident and supported to be creative. They also need a teacher to step back and allow them to communicate with their peers and test, fail, and learn from their mistakes in order to foster deep critical thinking and problem solving skills.


As Technology Integration Specialist at The Hockaday School, Karen Roberts helps students and teachers authentically integrate technology into the curriculum. For Karen, “CSEdWeek is a week to bring more awareness for girls in STEAM to all students from PK — 4th grade.”

IMAGE CREDIT: Karen Roberts

What is one strategy you have for inspiring creativity, collaboration, and innovation in the classroom?

When exploring something new, students are not allowed to talk or ask questions for the first 10 minutes of an activity. At the end of 10 minutes, I encourage collaboration and sharing of ideas with each other. This empowers the more reluctant students by forcing them to tinker, take risks, explore, and experiment, but they know that in 10 minutes they can receive help. One second grader, who was known for depending on others, said, “I felt more confident when I had to figure it out myself.”

How will you empower students to continue their learning after Computer Science Education Week?

We have developed a place within each grade level for students to use coding. Many of them have created Scratch and ScratchJr accounts so that they can continue on their own. We introduce students and teachers to ways they
can integrate coding into other subjects such as social studies, science, language arts, and math.


Tenaya Jones is primary school teacher in western Australia. She is participating in CSEdWeek because she wants to support students in learning computing skills in a fun and engaging way: “Technology is ever-evolving, and you see it being used in workplaces more often. To prepare students, we need to educate them and support them in learning towards their future.”

During the week, Tenaya’s students are writing short Christmas narratives and using ScratchJr to re-create their stories as animations.

IMAGE CREDIT: Tenaya Jones

What is one strategy you have for inspiring creativity, collaboration, and innovation in the classroom?

Something I have learned is, don’t set too many guidelines. This can hinder students’ creativity. State what learning will be intended and what the final product needs to demonstrate, but then let the students be the deciders on how to demonstrate the required skills or learning. When students come to me for help with projects I don’t give the answers. I ask questions to guide them towards the answer or possible solution. By giving students the answers they are looking for you take away the chance for them to problem solve and be creative.

What have you learned about facilitating creative learning experiences for students?

Providing students with the opportunity to present their learning or ideas in a creative manner has helped me engage the students in their learning more effectively. You don’t need to know all of the answers, you just need to provide the right creative task and let the students use their imagination to demonstrate their potential. You just need to know how to support and guide them along the way.

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