Previously I have detailed 8 Reasons Why Kids Should Learn Code. If those reasons inspired you to start a Coding Club at your school this short guide will help turn that inspiration into action. Details are discussed following the list.
7 Steps to Start a Coding Club
Talk to the tech savvy students and find out if any students are already learning programming. Have a meeting with these students and see which programs they could help you use to teach others.
Run a few lunchtime introductory sessions, in which you:
- Watch and discuss the code.org promotional video.
- Complete the Hour of Code Angry Birds and Flappy Bird Lessons.
Choose the learning environment that suits your school and students.
Give time for exploration and creativity.
Share resources that will help students create with the program.
Set some challenges to solve with the program.
Have students share what they are creating and run sessions in which they teach others.
Options and Resources
Scratch would be the ideal starting point on computers. Its adaptability means that it can be used with students of various ages and skill levels. Young students can use Scratch, as long as they are reading. There are an abundance of resources available to teach and learn Scratch. The Scratch Curriculum Guide is fantastic starting point, as are the video tutorials, and the Scratch Cards. The Debugger challenges have students work out the bugs in Scratch programs and the 10 Block Challenge has students create a Scratch using 10 pre assigned blocks.
For students who are above 10 years old or have more experience I would suggest introducing them to MIT App Inventor, Codecademy and Khan Academy. All include tutorials and support resources. With MIT APP Inventor students can build Android apps in a drag and drop environment that is similar to Scratch. With Codecademy and Khan Academy there are a range of step by step interactive tutorials that teach some of the most commonly used programming languages.
I would recommend using a combination of the problem solving apps, similar to the move the turtle style programming environments, and the creation apps. There are many problem solving games out there for iPad but my favourites are Daisy the Dino for very young students, Kodable for early to middle age groups, and Cargo-Bot for the older students.
Hopscotch: When it comes to creating and learning some programming concepts on the iPad Hopscotch is the number one choice. Have students rebuild the Frogger or Paddle Board games, that come preloaded on Hopscotch, or challenge them to program their character to draw a house.
SketchNation allows students to create Doodle Jump/Flappy Bird style games in a simple step by step fashion with their own sketches.
GamePress allows students to create high quality games in the side scrolling, think Mario, and top down, think Space Invaders, styles.
Image by Sarah Alexander.