Matthew was head of computing at a secondary school and just jumped at the chance to work with younger students. He now works at a primary school in England that has 600 students (which is a lot for a primary school for England!) He works with 4 year olds all the way up to 11 year olds! It's a really cool gig because he can do some really simple stuff with his younger students and build upon those skills to create really exciting projects with his older students.
In the UK every child has one hour a week of computer class. In some cases, there is not always a computing teacher and the classroom teacher teaches this one hour of computer science. But Matthew is actually the designated computing teacher at his school!
He teaches the younger students the basics of using a computer and moves into coding as they get further along in school.
Matthew also shares his knowledge with other schools and companies! He shares his projects on his Always Computing blog and recently shared a Makey Makey Interactive storybook idea at Scratch Europe conference.
This successful workshop at the Scratch conference was just too cool not to share with our community! So we reached out to Matt to interview him and find out more about how he shares Makey Makey ideas with other teachers.
The idea came from the 90’s kid's storybooks where they had little buttons down the side of the book. You could press the button at different points of the story and the buttons would make sounds effects. The workshop idea was to create a similar project for the conference that would bring a story to life using a computer, and making it more than just a story... but I also wanted to keep the idea as simple as possible. It’s almost hard in how simple it is.
I also wanted participants to use Makey Makey in a different way than what I’ve seen before. You see a lot of sound projects, but I wanted them to make something they could really get ahold of. For this project, they could have students make a book and it doesn’t have to be plugged in every time. However, I also wanted it to be cross-curricular. I wanted students to spend a little time thinking about art and how the pictures will go with the story, then spend some time in literacy with how the story will be built, and then as they connect it to think about how the electronics will work. I really wanted to present a whole project that covers lots of subjects that you would teach in a classroom.
The challenge was to create a four page story in one hour. Some of the participants had never seen a Makey Makey before. I spent some time explaining how a Makey Makey works, shared my own creation of a four page book, how I connected it, and how you have to make an EARTH connection. Then I said, "Here are the supplies and here is my example. You can mess with it and then get creative and make your own." I encouraged them to make a mess of the room.
In my example, I photographed each page so I could bring the photos into Scratch as sprites and I could make them move on the screen as well as incorporate sound effects. This gave makers a choice: Am I just going to read the story or enhance it?
Teachers were able to think about creative ideas and they were completely engaged in making their own books and being creative with both the hands on aspect and the coding aspect.
One group of Italian ladies who spoke very little English (they were translating for each other) made the perfect example project. On page one, they introduced a blue circle. On page 2 they introduced the yellow circle, On page 3 the two dots become best friends, and on the last page they hug and Scratch shows a green circle.
One of the best things about this prompt is once you have made the four page book, you have to ask yourself, "How will I use Scratch to bring it to life?"
Can you share some of your other favorites examples?
A few wrote about their journey to the Scratch conference. (How I got from Holland to Cambridge, etc) One teacher made an “All about me” book, and he played the trumpet so he had the trumpet sound. Some teachers recorded voices and others made sound effects.
This teacher shared the process of a butterfly!
What are some other fun things you've done with Makey Makey in your classroom?
When I introduced Makey Maky at my school, I made an interactive keyboard on the wall using Makey Makey and Raspberry Pi. Students would come in my room all day to play and interact with it.
We've made cardboard guitars, and now we are doing a two button challenge.
I've bought some arcade buttons and I taught my students how to wire up the two buttons with Makey Makey. Then I challenge them to get cardboard and create an interesting project on Scratch that only uses two buttons! This is similar to the four page story book in that it is so hard because it is so simple.
One female student made a whole story book in Scratch, then used the two buttons to turn the pages. As a reader, you could thumb through the digital pages by going forward or back with the buttons.
Do you have some future project ideas?
I'm interested in this Twine app that draws a story for you and thinking about how I could combine this with a Makey Makey.
I just created my first Instructables guide for this Cardboard slider and I'm excited to see what kind of Scratch projects you and your students will create with it! Let the remixing and hacking begin!
Check out our other Featured Educator posts! Do you know an awesome Makey Makey educator we should feature on our blog? Let us know the Disqus comments!