Last August, YALSA issued a call to librarians to apply for travel funds to attend a coding summit in Cleveland, OH: Hip-Hop and Scratch. Working at a school with an emerging STEM pathway and a flourishing hip-hop culture, I was intrigued. I flew to Cleveland and joined nearly 50 educators at the Progressive Arts Alliance. I. Wasn’t. Ready. When I opened the email from the summit organizer whose first bullet point read, “Wear clothes you’re comfortable moving around in on Friday—we’ll be dancing,” I should have known then. My inner nerd had applied so that I could work with MIT’s Scratch Team. However, the first half of Day 1 consisted entirely of dance workshops. Once I finished physically stretching and began to mentally stretch beyond what I thought I couldn’t do (i.e., hip-hop dancing), I found my groove (or my pop and lock—and I have the pics to prove it).
Next, we received an introduction to Scratch, a programming language developed by the cool kids at MIT. Previously, my experience with coding literally had been designing “from scratch,” or writing in languages like HTML. I found this simplified or, rather, more accessible form of coding fascinating, and I knew it would be something that my students could learn and enjoy. Instead of using generic avatars to create our Scratch videos, we uploaded and sequenced still images of ourselves performing hip-hop dance moves. To keep us motivated, we had a live DJ who created a vibe that prompted this tweet: “At the Hip-Hop and Scratch Coding Summit wondering why school can’t be this LIT on a daily basis!” To round out THE summit of epic proportions, Eric Rosenbaum, co-inventor of Makey Makey, made an appearance and literally crafted a beatbox out of folks’ hand claps. Check that out: https://tinyurl.com/beatzbyhey