Code Club Week 1

An ongoing attempt to keep track of my Code Club volunteering, so that if I do it again, I’ll do it better.

Having already completed a term at the school, pretty much all of the ‘where do I go / what do I do?’ type nerves were none existent; though I still turned up 20 minutes early to make sure that the computers all worked and I could get set up. I’d painstakingly prepared more badges (in more durable plastic holders this time) and lanyards, and printed out the first lesson guides and whatnot. It takes much longer than you’d think, getting those bits ready. I’ve realised that I’m pretty poor at cutting straight lines with scissors, so there are one or two wonky badges out there in the wild I’m afraid. I also got a cardboard wallet for each student to keep their notes in, but decided to keep that back for next week.

As with the last time, once the introductions, questions, and overview had been completed, somehow a third of the lesson had evaporated. I already pretty much knew I wasn’t going to get everyone to finish the game (Felix & Herbert), so I was aiming for a sensible end point which still allowed them to get a ‘finished’ product. We got up to the bit where Herbert chases Felix with a short bit of time to spare, with everyone still keeping up at the same speed, so I thought we’d stop there and complete the game part of it next week. That also left time at the end for me to ask a few more questions and even give them some time to start talking about swapping characters / costumes and the like.

At the end of the last group, I started getting the kids to work with Scratch 2 (the online version) so that they could share their work; I considered doing the same from the offset here, but the differences (visually) between the two are probably a tad too confusing when starting off. i.e., working from the handouts does, at least initially, make a lot more sense when the screenshots match the interface. I think I’ll stick with Scratch 1 for as long as possible, and investigate if the school can solve their firewall issue instead.

A few of the kids had heard of Code Club from previous attendees, and it was great to hear that people had been talking about it so positively. At first I was baffled as to how they knew the name of the cat and mouse in our game, but then it all started to make sense. Not that anyone stuck to ‘Felix’ and ‘Herbert’. Some of the names they chose are so random that I can’t even remember any examples. ‘lol’ was one I think. And ‘Dave’ the cat. Which is actually quite a good name for a cat.

There are 15 children in this group; 7 girls and 8 boys. That ratio is quite surprising to me (though, it shouldn’t be should it? Girls can like ‘code’ too) and so far I think it’s proving to be a better mix than last time (12 boys/3 girls). I’m sure these words will come back to bite me but, so far, things seem a bit less hectic and more attentive. Hooray for the calming influence of sensible girls! 15 is still a lot to work with, and I’m certain contributes to the fact that I can’t seem to keep a lesson to the hour long format, but at least they’re having fun!

Next week: finishing the Felix & Herbert game. Should be time to allow for a wee bit of creativity too – I’ll introduce the drawing tools. Will also give out the folders with worksheets.

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