After becoming a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator at Picademy, the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s free face-to-face teacher training initiative, Kyle Wilke was inspired to start a Code Club to give students at his school and teachers in California more access to coding and making.
After attending Picademy, I was inspired to start a Code Club of my own in the computer lab at the school where I teach. The first week of the club, I introduced my students to Scratch, and we looked at project examples from across the community before starting to work through the Code Club projects. For the first two years I ran the club alone, and this year I reached out to our Parent-Teacher Association and was able to get multiple volunteers attending each session. Having volunteers has been a game changer for our club, and it’s great seeing them learn alongside the students!
Students love coming to Code Club to hang out with friends and learn how to code. When they leave, they are always telling me about how they will continue working on their project at home, or that they plan to buy a Raspberry Pi.
A favorite memory from my Code Club is when one student, a pretty shy kid who didn’t interact with many other students socially, jumped at the opportunity to become our first Code Club student mentor. During Code Club, I asked him to assist another child, saying that they were in good hands as the student mentor knew more than I did. The next week, when someone raised their hand for help and I started to make my way over, my student mentor popped up and said, “I’ll be right there, I know more than Mr. Wilke.” Hearing this new-found confidence was music to my ears!
Helping others start their Code Clubs
Once I’d experienced the joy of facilitating a Code Club, I knew I had to share it with the world and help train other teachers to get started. I currently help run Code Club training at conferences in the US, supporting teachers in learning to use Raspberry Pis and how to start a Code Club. In training sessions I always emphasise that the leader doesn’t need to be a computer science expert. You can learn alongside your students, and Code Club’s step-by-step coding guides allow the students to work at their own pace, with only limited adult instruction necessary. Educators always love how flexible the program is and how there are many different ways you can structure the club to work in your environment.
I spread the word about Code Club because of what it creates: on the surface, students are following coding guides and working on individual projects, but upon closer inspection, they are learning invaluable concepts like computational thinking and collaboration. Bringing a Code Club to your community creates a safe place for students to code, play, and learn together. Raspberry Pi Certified Educators like to say that Picademy helped them find their people — Code Club helps kids find their people, and their very own coding community.
My advice to anyone thinking of starting a Code Club is to go for it! When I started mine, I had very little experience using Scratch — I even told my students that on many projects we would be learning together. If you are thinking of starting a club, I really can’t recommend it enough!
Picademy sessions run throughout the year in the UK and North America. Keep an eye on the Picademy webpage or Raspberry Pi’s Twitter feed to find out when the next round is taking place. And if you don’t want to wait, you can sign up today for our free online FutureLearn course on preparing to start a Code Club here.
Wherever you are in the world, head to www.codeclubworld.org to find out how to start a Code Club in your community.