In December 2017 I participated in Code.org’s Hour of Code. After seeing the enthusiasm and joy on my students’ faces I decided it was important to continue teaching computer science and programing for the remainder of the year. While I had already planned to do this with my own 5th grade class, I wanted to include other students as well. This brought about the creation of my school’s first Coding Club.
Starting a computer science club at your school is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1. Make a plan.
Figure out the what, when, where, why, and how.
- What level of computer science and/or programming will you focus on? What do you need to be successful? I chose to start at a beginner level since I will still learning myself. For materials I used some of the Chromebooks within my classroom, asked for donations from families, and wrote grants to get the other materials.
- When will you meet? My club met once a month on a Friday afternoon 15 minutes after school ended.
- Where will you meet? We always met in my room since it was easiest for me and I was able to contain my supplies in a central location.
- Why are you starting your club? What’s the purpose? I decided to start Coding Club because I saw a need at my school to create a place for students to learn skills that would benefit them in the future.
- How will you teach the students in your club? Will you use a pre-created curriculum or create your own? It was easiest for me to use the online and offline lessons available at code.org. If I were to change anything, I would incorporate lessons from code.org and CS First.
2. Get permission from your administrator.
Go and talk to your administrator to present your proposal. Tell (and show) your administrator how this will benefit students.
3. Start small and grow.
Start with what you know you can handle. I limited my first group to 30 students of 4th-6th graders. I wasn’t comfortable adding primary students yet. My second year I opened it up to 3rd grade as well. Unfortunately I move to a new school in the third year and had to temporarily put Coding Club on hold, then…COVID happened. My plan had been to eventually create 2 sessions a month, one for beginners and one for intermediate students. Hopefully I’ll be able to start it up again in the future.
I highly encourage you to work through the steps. If step 1 works, proceed to step 2. If step 2 is approved, move forward with step 3. I can guarantee that you’ll be amazed with who joins and how you will make an impact in their lives. For my students, Coding Club became a safe place for those that struggled with finding their place in a normal academic environment. Within Coding Club they excelled and thrived. It was a joy and pleasure to help facilitate that place for them.