What do you expect to hear upon entering a room filled with elementary and middle-school aged children? Noise, any sort really. Laughter, chatter, snorting and shuffling—but in one classroom filled with children there is nearly complete silence. Only, the silence is not really silent. The room is filled with the sound of keyboards; a symphony of clicks and clacks, the sound of kids who code.
From May to June, each Saturday the Bay Area Tutoring Association held the CodeWriting Kids program. The weekly classes were organized into segments: First, students practiced their typing on Nitrotype.com. Next, students were introduced to the weekly lesson activity and given examples using Code.org and Scratch. Coding tutor Bisma Janjua would complete the first activity of the lesson with the class, after which the students worked on their own, pausing only to ask questions or look at the board for instructions.
Bisma used Code.org to create specific lessons for each week, each new lesson implementing and expanding on the previous weeks’ knowledge while adding new information. With Scratch, Bisma created a studio and a series of weekly projects, each with its’ own “to-do list” for project completion.
The students would be given an example of one way to complete a task, and then asked what other ways could be used to achieve the same result. “The goal was to allow the students to be as creative as they wanted to be, and to show them that there is always more than one way to code something, and to allow them to create their own masterpieces.”
The CodeWriting Kids tutoring team worked hard to make the program not only valuable educationally, but fun. “We wanted students to realize that coding is something fun that they can do, which will allow them to be creative.”
One student enjoyed coding so much, she decided to create and launch her own app, “during our last class one student came up to me and told me that she’s been working on an app that allows people to talk to each other (like ”social networking” is how she described it) and she’s going to be publishing it on the app store with her dad. She was one of the students who attended every class and always raised her hand and wanted to show me what she was working on. It was great to see how excited about coding she was!” Another student learned enough to create his own game, “Each week he would work to expand his knowledge, then he showed me his he’d personal project—a platformer game. It was great to see how enthusiastic he was about coding and that he’d been able to use his skills at home.”
Teaching young people to code is becoming increasingly important in our digital world. Bay Area Tutors Association has found a way to teach, inspire and captivate—all with clicks and clacks and simple code.