Coders' Club 101
The website you're now visiting grew out of an urge to get elementary-school kids together in a social and supportive environment where they can learn the very basics of computer programming. There are lots of websites, products, summer camps and so on, and that's great, the more the merrier. In this program, we ...
- Let kids learn by doing. There is not a lot of tutorial material or rhetoric. We just point kids at challenges and let them get coding. Parent support is critical, even though we've tried to make the activities as intuitive as possible.
- Focus on problem-solving. Real-world coding is a great blend of creativity and problem-solving, and of course the creative side of it is highly attractive for kids. But too much emphasis there can make the whole exercise a dead-end. We steer much more toward the challenges of problem-solving: trace a shape, solve a maze, calculate an answer or generate a sequence.
- Make it social. It really is meant to be a club, where everyone gathers at the same time to share their interest and excitement. Coaches help kids, kids help other kids, kids show off and celebrate. It is a beautiful thing.
- Give it structure. There are lots of activities to choose from, and we try to support different modes and styles of learning. But by and large we believe that kids respond well to structure. They follow a curriculum which has some parallel paths but mostly is serialized so that they are learning A before they go off and try B.
- Let the solution be the reward. The activities should be fun, but let's be honest, they can't compete with videogames or robots. On the other hand, the effects of those sorts of big audio-visual reinforcements tend to wear off, don't they? We've found that kids find that solving a problem can be a reward of its own.
Okay, so there's the big manifesto. Practically, what is a Coders' Club? It is a group of kids, parents, and/or teachers meeting to learn about coding by doing coding activities, and this application is built to support that.
Each club has registered coders, and in some cases groups of coders who meet at specific times -- for example the Tuesday-morning group or the Thursday-afternoon group. Each club has registered coaches who help out the coders and who are able to track their progress using the application. Some of teh coaches are administrators and so can sign up coders and other coaches, and generally manage the membership of the club.
You can learn more specifics of how to run a club, be a coach in a club, and generally how to use this application in the following pages: