I was pinch-hitting for Cynthia earlier this month and got to assist the Teen Tech Squad with a workshop at Rogers, one of the more outlying branches in HCL.

There were 6 boys in 4th and 5th grade, and none of them had used Scratch before. The teens gave a fairly brief introduction to the Scratch website. Then they went through just the basic functions: how to find or make a sprite, and how to make costumes; stamping, cutting, and enlarge/shrink; a few basic command and motion blocks. Then they introduced the theme for the projects (Welcome Spring) and encouraged them to get started. They would ask for the kids' attention occasionally to demonstrate something or answer a question for all to hear, but mostly the kids worked individually and discovered functions on their own or from friends. In the last 15-20 minutes we got them signed up for online accounts and uploaded their projects. I was impressed with the level of progress they made in one 2-hour session.

The brief up-front instruction worked very well for this group. They were interested, on-task, and were confident enough to try unknown buttons independently or ask how to do something. We had 4 instructors for 6 students,
which made individual progress much easier.

Cynthia and I discussed later how different this group was from a group of students at a different branch's workshop earlier that week. The kids in that group, mostly immigrants, were very hesitant to explore on their own. They got discouraged and antsy quickly with group instruction. When the tech squad teens sat down with one or two students and worked side-by-side, they settled down and were more willing to try it. However, they still lacked confidence to the extent they wouldn't click on anything until a teacher affirmed that they should. I won't make guesses as to all the factors involved, but the two groups really demonstrated opposite ends of the spectrum in their reaction to a new learning situation.

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Comment by Jen on March 28, 2010 at 10:35am
great info- what was the other branch? Rogers is in an almost rural area - was the other one more urban? what are some of the factors you speculated on?

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