I have now been teaching coding to young people for 11 years and I’m very proud to have seen some of my students going on to take a Computer Science GCSE – and in a couple of cases – an A Level. They have told me that they were inspired after attending my coding clubs.
Most children start learning to code with coding blocks, which enables them to learn programming principles without getting the dreaded computer errors. Instead of returning errors, the code simply won’t do what the children expect it to do. This is why the core principle of problem solving and debugging is so key.
When the children are ready to experiment with text-based coding, it can at first be frustrating for them as now they do need to understand the code they are writing, pay attention to the programming syntax and be able to understand error codes. However, a gentle introduction can be achieved in a fun an interactive way. That said, the output needs to be immediate and the children need to be able to see that their code has worked.
Another way of introducing text-based coding is by creating a website page using the HTML language to create the web page structure and CSS to add interactivity.
Of course, once the children have been introduced to some form of text-based coding, the next step is to develop their coding skills by programming with Python.
Over the last school summer term we ran our first Web Wizards online course for secondary school students. The course took place after school on Mondays over an 8-week period.
The Monday coding club allows students to develop their coding skills and take them to the next level – whether beginners or advanced coders. There is lots of collaboration and we learn together in a safe and friendly environment.
Since March 2020 we have been offering learning opportuities online tailored to suit different ages and abilities.
Our Coding in Scratch courses are suitable for children in Years 3 – 6. Every week, they create new projects carefully designed to help them grasp the key principles of computer programming. Each term, the children are challenged with puzzles that nurture and build their computational thinking skills. Our Scratch courses are ideal for any child starting their coding journey or for the more advanced coder who needs to be challenged a little more.
This acedemic year we’ve added a new course to our offer – Coding in Minecraft – in which the children learn to code inside the Minecraft environment. This course does not teach Minecraft, but rather how to use code to automate builds and make modifications to a Minecraft World and change game play. The children use block programming to achieve this, making it ideal for beginners.
We also offer block programming for secondary school students as part of our Make Arcade Games or Make Web Apps courses. These courses are suitable for students in Years 7 – 9 and designed to help them learn more about the principles of computer programming and how to design and prototype a game or App.
With all our courses our aim to help students develop their coding skills… and have an enjoyable time while learning.
Most of this particular group have been coding with Scratch for sometime and have a good understanding of basic computer programming principles. Most of them have also been learning online together since March 2020.
The group have also learned about coordinates, variables and functions, and used the knowledge they have gained to make their own Apps and interact with them. I’m grateful to Bitsbox for creating a fantastic platform that provides fun characters and scenes for playing with.
It has been rewarding for me to witness how the children have understood the concepts quickly and applied them to their own projects.
There’s also little doubt that this group have developed their digital skills over many months of learning and collaborating together online. It’s great to see how comfortable they are using online chat and sharing their projects with their peers.
Learning how to interact with the objects on the screen and use ‘event-driven’ programming to make their Apps come to life was really challenging, but the students rose to the challenge and created and shared some terrific Apps. They even created their own App icon to access them on their phones.
Well done to everyone who participated and I look forward to seeing you next term for our new Programming with Python course – registration is now open.