This post is long overdue, so forgive me that!
One of the fun parts of my job is that I get the opportunity to work with a bunch of different schools and help generate excitement for technology and all of its possibilities. My colleague, Sarah, and I decided it would be really fun to create an after school coding club with our 2nd and 3rd grade students. We started the club in February and it ran through early April. Of course we had some snow days and schedule conflicts that disrupted a couple of our meeting days, but for the most part, we met every week.
Given that this was our first attempt at trying coding with my students, I was a little nervous about jumping in and having to create a whole bunch of lessons from scratch. In my research, I discovered the Google program called CS First. While it is designed for older students, we were certain that our kids could rise to the challenge given some support and scaffolding. If you haven’t heard about CS First, you should check it out. There are several programs to choose from – Digital Storytelling, Art, Music, Friends, Social Media, Fashion Design, and Video Game Design. CS First will send you all the materials you need to get your club started including marketing posters, lessons and directions, passports (aligned to each day’s lesson objective), and even headphones. Google also will partner you with a local “Guru” if you need or want more support.
We learned a lot in our first implementation! The kids really enjoyed the opportunity to work on computers and do something they never have done before. Also, not all of our students have computers or iPads at home, so they loved being able to create and play digitally. You can check out more about how we ran our program and some resources to help you get started by viewing my presentation below.
I’m looking forward to hosting more than one Technology Club next year. I would like to get the club started a bit earlier in the school year and maybe be able to offer it to more students. We only were able to host 20 students in our club, and it would be nice to provide more opportunities for even more kids. Additionally, we want to be able to support our younger (K-1) students. Code.org has a TON of great resources for younger kids, so that is probably where we are going to start next year with that age group.
Lots and lots of research has been done on how code can help students with problem-solving skills, collaboration, and analysis of information. Being able to provide an outlet for students to be creative and use technology to showcase their ideas is incredibly powerful for students. I’m looking forward to seeing the amazing things they will do!