Code Club’s Senior Content and Curriculum Manager, Rik Cross, is not only in charge of creating the amazing projects in our curriculum – he also runs a Code Club in his local school in Leeds. Here he tells us about how to make the most of the high energy and enthusiasm that comes with running a Code Club:
At a recent Code Club meet-up, I was chatting to a volunteer who asked for tips on running a Code Club because they felt that some aspects of their club were, in their words, ‘chaos’.
This got me thinking that, in some ways, my club can be chaos too – and I think that’s a good thing. Obviously there is a need for rules and structure within a club, but children also need an environment in which they feel free to experiment and share ideas.
Here are a few ways in which I’d consider my club ‘chaos’:
Children work on different projects. They are personalising their learning, working on a project that interests them, at their own pace. I’ve known children skip projects that don’t interest them, or spend weeks on a project that captures their imagination. Some children may, after completing a handful of projects, decide that they have enough knowledge and skill to build something of their own.
Children move around a lot. They look around at what others are making, getting ideas and inspiration. They often invite others to play (i.e. test) their finished projects, and then make improvements based on feedback they receive. Children get a lot of motivation from seeing others huddled around their computer, playing and enjoying a project they made. For this reason, children often make sure that their project is of high quality before allowing others to play with it.
It can sometimes get loud. Children ask each other questions, and move around the room to help each other out. They test each other’s projects, giving verbal feedback, sharing ideas or even just having fun with the things they’ve created. When children are motivated to create things that interest them, I think it’s important that they have time to enjoy the things they’ve made.
Children play games. My club use online Scratch, and so as well as playing each other’s games they do get time to play other Scratch projects online. Obviously it’s important that this doesn’t dominate a club, but I think children learn lots about what’s possible with Scratch – especially when moving past the basics. Posting their own creations online is also a great opportunity for children to get real feedback from the community.
What some volunteers call ‘chaos’ is in fact part of the fun, and part of the learning experience; it is how children show the excitement and enthusiasm they feel when making things with computers. All this differentiates a Code Club from regular computing classes, so I always advise volunteers to embrace it!