Friday, May 20, 2016

Code Club: Week 2 - Blast off!

After sorting out all of our problems (the videos were being blocked by something or other) we were finally able to have a genuine code club this week.

I was feeling a lot less stressed about the club this week as the attempted club last week helped me wrap my head around how the day works. That being said, I realized that there was no way I could talk in front of everyone as much as the script said and still get through everything.

Over two days we had about 40 or 50 students (it was tough to find time to count, as you'll see below) coming from Years 3-6 and with a varying degrees of coding experience. Generally, I was pleased with how things went (how could it not be an improvement from last week?), though there were still some issues that will require some ironing out (or at the very least, perseverance).

One thing that was obvious from the get go was the level of independence that some students had (or rather, lacked). Most of the year 3s were constantly asking questions about what to do next (even though there was a button on the screen that literally said "next"). This learned helplessness is one of the things I'm battling (I should give myself a superhero name: Captain Independence, helping children become independent learners), so this is a fantastic opportunity let children have a go at it alone. So if you're doing a code club, be prepared for this potential time eater if you've got younger children. I'm not saying don't have them - far from it, they need to learn these skills and this should help them.

The second issue is a bit more worrying. Many students (both experienced and inexperienced) would put up their hand and tell me: "I'm finished watching the videos," as if to say that they were done. None of them had actually listened to the videos and done the activities. Others would watch the video, start the project and play around with things without trying the actual activity. I guess this is two sides to the same coin, but both are essentially the same problem: they don't follow instructions. They want to play (or just know how to do something) without the knowledge that will help them. It's about instant gratification vs delayed (by something like 2 or 3 minutes) gratification. I need to help teach the students about using the resources they have to learn something AND THEN having a play and discovering.

These are thoughts I will be pondering over the weekend. Do I want them to play? Yes. But not at the expense of learning a skill. Perhaps that will one day be the focus of my code club, but right now, they're not experts (is anyone, really ever an expert?) and they could benefit from learning how some of the blocks work, rather than just doing the same thing (usually just changing the avatar of the character) over and over.

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