KS3 – I’ve done Scratch

Yes, but can you code?

Faced with that looming first lesson in programming for Y7, and either diving into text-based environments or revisiting those familiar blocks of KS2 scratch, I opted for a new approach before the lesson even started.

With a wide catchment area and plenty of feeder primary schools, I knew that the range of experiences at school would be different. In addition, I know there are a large number of students who will make use of clubs or have supportive parents who code. (In many ways, I feel computing can be like teaching music in secondary school in terms of the spread of engagement) So, I was also very aware of the problem of “I’ve done this”.

So I came up with a survey. But I didn’t want to assume anything and wanted to try and get away from the over confident who will tell me they have done it all. So I simply asked for different ranges of blocks, their frequency of using each type.

There were a couple of other questions about the programming environments they had used, and it finished with a free text, anything else you want to tell me.

The results were very interesting… and I think give a fair indication of programming experience.

So a quiz for you now. The following graphs refer to the groups experience of blocks for…

  • Loops without conditions (repeat x times… forever)
  • Motion (forward… turn… go to)
  • Variables (set variable…change variable)
  • Selection (if…else)
  • Input blocks (ask…answer)

Can you guess which is which?

I think I will continue this survey for a few years to see if there is an change in the overall figures. But the added bonus was the pupils telling me the areas they had or had not used much and a few questions about instructions they had never seen. I was starting with everyone knowing there was something they had rarely or never used – something to learn! Most (90%) had used Scratch before, but no one was confident enough to say “ I’ve done Scratch”