Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Learning with the kids

Last week we finally had enough students sign up for our Codecademy club meaning it can now run as an after school club. Only one problem (or opportunity). I don't know how to code. Well, what's a guy to do. Better start learning I guess!

I got a little bit of a head start and completed the first few lessons before the first session with the kids and so far I have found the Codecademy materials amazing. You get regular feedback on how you have completed small tasks and there are lots of opportunities to review and apply what you have been learning. I have found it pretty straight forward so far, but some of the kids are geniuses. They move at double my speed and I can't keep up. By next week, I will be asking them for help and trust me, I will be glad of it.

I have the feeling that Codecademy is going to be the best bit of professional development that I've had in a long time. Not just because I am learning new skills but it puts me in the place that teachers should really put themselves into more often; the position of the learner. What did I learn from my first experience (apart from a few html basics)? I learned how effective it is to learn things in small chunks with activities which are designed to progress in difficulty and build on prior knowledge.

If your school doesn't teach any coding, try and start a Codecademy club. It is really simple. Once your students set up their account they will be moving at different speeds and many will overtake you. Don't worry if you don't know how to code. The best thing you can do is cultivate an environment where students learn to collaborate and help each other (and you!).

Codecademy does provide tools for teachers although we went for the jump straight in and get the students working through it themselves route but there are materials to help you teach it if you want. I wouldn't recommend trying to teach them. You will most likely hold them back. Just let them learn and teach you a few things as they go. 


I had my 8th grade students learn HTML/CSS from Codecademy last year. It was great! They made accounts and had 4 weeks to complete the assignments. They used what they learned to create a website to advertise the Android apps they created using App Inventor (another free programming tool).

Jonny says:

That sounds great. We aren't at that level yet.

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