Help for Coaches
As a coach, you really have two jobs, which are to help your coders and to mark down their progress as they complete activities. The best thing you can do is to work through the coding activities yourself -- at least the initial ones including Sprout, the Maze Game, and Chutes & Ladders. Then, there are more specific notes on individual activities (and their quirks) here.
Then, you mark it down when a coder completes an activity or a step of an activity. Your club may do this in one of two ways. You might have a phone or tablet with you during a session, and with that you can log into the application as a coach. Then it's as simple as clicking or tapping on a coder's name, as all of them will be listed on your home screen, and then clicking or tapping the checkbox for a given activity. You can un-check boxes that you checked by mistake, too -- you'll see a dialog and just have to confirm, so we don't take credit away mistakenly.
Sometimes it's easier, while kids are at it and asking for help, just to keep printed checklists and mark those. Then, after the dust settles, you or a lead coach or administrator can collect the paper and transcribe to the running application. It's one extra step, but sometimes it works better. For any given kid or for whole groups, you can click through to print-formatted checklists, and run those off on your printer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your coders, and maybe you, will often wonder ...
- How do I save my work for next time? The application automatically saves the coder's work, under their name, in the database. This happens every 30 seconds or so and whenever they run their programs, so it's pretty reliable. If they close the browser in a hurry they may lose the last instruction or two that they created.
- Does the program know when I finish an activity or challenge? No. We ask coders and coaches to communicate about this, because a coach certifying that you completed an activity is the only way it will be recorded.
- Does a coder have to do the activities in the order in which they're listed on the coder's home page? No. They are listed more or less from simplest and easiest to most complex and hardest. But kids may choose to skip around a bit, and that's fine.
- Does a coder have to do all of the activities at a given level? No. To earn a belt you have to complete enough activities to earn a specific number of points for that level. There are more activities there than you would need to get that number of points. And, except for the very first level, it's designed such that a coder can even opt out of a whole track of activities and still earn the belt. For example, the music-programming activity Allegro won't be for everyone, and one could do all of the activities except for Allegro and still move on.
- Why can't I see activities or levels I've done already? The coder's home page will automatically collapse levels at which the coder has earned that color belt. It can be expanded again, just by clicking the "Show" button at the right in that row of the table. Coders may want to do a given challenge again, to review, or do other things at a level where they've already earned enough points to move on.
- Why can't I see more advanced activities/levels? I'm out of stuff to do. For a coder to see activities at a given level, a coach must either mark that the coder has completed the prior level, or must explicitly enable the coder to see activities up to the level itself. We're usually more strict about this rule: insist that the coder do the work at, say, orange-belt level, before they can see the next crop of activities for a brown belt; and so on. If you get a coder who's new to the club but has a lot of other experience, you may want to enable higher levels, such that the coder could work at e.g. orange without earning white or yellow.