Teaching Coding at my High School

10-06-21

500 words, 3-minute read


The Story

When I was 10, I taught myself how to code by watching YouTube videos because I was very interested in video games at the time and heard that was how they were made.

My school didn't have any coding courses, but I wanted to share my biggest hobby with others. In middle school, I started "Coding Club," which was fun, but devolved into 12 year old me trying (and failing) to teach my classmates Python.

My junior year of high school, I got the crazy idea of teaching a group of students how to program. I set up a meeting with my school's principal, who loved the idea, and somehow this turned into something that might actually happen. The plan at my school anyway was to begin gradually teaching more computer-centric classes, and the teacher slated to teach them, while not ready to teach a full-on programming course yet, was happy to supervise my class. With the A-okay from the principal and an adult to be the teacher on paper, I started planning what I would teach.

The Language

I wanted to teach a language that isn't too tricky to pick up, but is still versatile and modern. I also wanted a language that would work well with the school-issued Chromebooks. This gave me Python, one of the first languages I learned. And, as I guessed that many of the students would be interested in developing video games, having libraries like PyGame available made Python an even more attractive option.

The IDE

The IDE I chose had to satisfy a few requirements:

  • It had to be completely online so that students could access their programs through their Chromebooks or the computers in the classroom.
  • It had to be EdLaw2d-compliant (a new-ish law in NY that applies to schools)
  • It had to be able to leverage libraries (like the aforementioned PyGame)
    What I found with some Googling was Replit, which even has a Teams for Education version that allows me to collaborate with students and leave feedback in the form of comments.

    Perfect.

The Content

I made a syllabus with some general goals for where I'd like the class to be at certain points, but one of the perks of the class being an elective is I can adjust content based on how students are dealing with the material.

How It's Going

I'm writing this post about 5 weeks into the class, and so far it's been an amazing experience. I love it when the students get excited about a particular concept and experiment to build their own thing.

It's also definitely given me a newfound respect for my own teachers. I have so much to learn in that regard, but this seems like a good way to improve.

Anyway, updates to come!

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