Scratch is on the XO laptops that I work with (One Laptop per Child Australia). As mentioned, it's great to promote thinking skills and creativity and when implemented well, sits at the top of Blooms taxonomy- it's for this reason that a lot of educators are pro-Scratch.
I do understand the need to make it fit with a curriculum, however. In terms of coupling it with content, here are a couple of examples:
- I've seen it used in a really nice way to create digital stories- and it can harness the interactivity dimension of digital stories better than many other programs. At it's most basic, have students create backgrounds and use program blocks to move between backgrounds. Scale it from there- add Sprites to interact with the backgrounds, create interactions between sprites and the user, create multiple story paths, etc...
- There are an enormous array of mathematical concepts that can be hi-lighted in Scratch. Students can use Scratch to illustrate these concepts, such as angles, basic operations, algebraic equations, etc... Likewise there are plenty of scientific concepts to explore- physics in particular. Get them to make games to illustrate concepts. This is a nice example of a simple game to teach angles:
Here's a good one to model physics:
I personally think the best appropach when introducing Scratch is to have a broad project brief in mind, give the students the tools to begin on the project, then let them collaborate and work together to discover how to extend and apply the skills. Good luck!
This website I just used last week with my 7th and 8th grade computer class. I used some of the tutorials to introduce them to the program, and this was the intro for their own project design. We started here to give them an idea of what is possible, and they then took it and did some of their own extension activities. Of course, they relate very well to video gaming, so some of them did incredible things and then shared some of their "finds" with the rest of the class. For a class that can be hard to keep engaged....it was not a problem keeping them focused on this. We spent 3 periods on this and some came up with some amazing discoveries. Good luck. Judy Milleville Altamont Lutheran School firstname.lastname@example.org
My experience with Scratch is that it can test the patience of many students. A far less demanding alternative is Pivot. Pivot is very limited in comparison to Scratch – but students can create a worthy animation very quickly which can then promote enthusiasm for more demanding programs.