Computer science is increasingly important in today’s world, and many educators believe that computer science is as foundational as reading or math. Coding is an essential skill that teaches problem solving, develops teamwork and inspires creativity. Yet, only 40 percent of schools teach it. A coding club can help fill in these gaps, and many teachers, librarians and other educators are excited to start one. Here’s a collection of tips and things to consider when you want to start a coding club in your school or library.
Tips to help establish a coding club:
- General tips: Select a platform based on in-house technology and the knowledge and skills of volunteer mentors. Work with an eye to the future with respect to program goals and desired outcomes. You may want to establish a plan of action to ensure the club progresses sufficiently. Talk with tech savvy students and get input from them on what they’d like in a coding club. Consider having a demo day to let students show off a bit.
- Manage expectations: Understanding the importance of small steps in the beginning of this process is essential to maintaining a realistic set of expectations. Ideally, the coding club will help further understanding of technology concepts, all while still keeping it fun and enjoyable. Block-style coding is a simple way to introduce coding to varying ages. Code.org, Scratch and many other platforms use versions of block code.
- Ability levels: It is likely that a coding club will contain students with varying ability levels. Accept and embrace this! Students who have mastered a skill can and help their peers who may be struggling. This mindset helps establish a welcoming and nurturing learning environment.
- Room setup: You’ll want to check the equipment prior to meetings. Turn on and log in to the devices and check to ensure Internet access. If available, you will want to access a projector or large display screen, allowing you quickly to demonstrate or showcase completed projects.
- Use online resources: There are many resources that are available online; take advantage of them! Code.org has excellent resources and tutorials and is also a great way for families to work on the skills outside of the coding club. Raspberry Pi is another digital community that has great resources that can be taken advantage of, including printable PDFs and a digital curriculum.
A successful coding club can be a great asset to any school or library. Please feel free to put your own coding club tips in the comments.