Code club at Ridgeway Primary Croydon – feedback from weeks 3 and 4

It’s 48 hours until week 5 of my first term of code club and I’m just printing and collating the lesson plans. Now seems a good time to write some feedback about weeks 3 and 4 as I learned a lot (as hopefully did the children!)

First off it’s important to note that if you’re doing the fireworks project as week 3, you’ll need to ensure that you can upload some additional sprites and sounds from the scratch resources that you’ve been given. Depending on how you’ve had scratch installed at your school this could be a problem and one you should try to tackle in advance! I realised on the Wednesday night before the club and was a little unprepared. I took the extra files into the school on a USB stick but the way that scratch was installed stopped it from seeing certain network drives as browsable folders, which meant that we had to do a 2 stage copy, which involved getting all the children to copy files manually using windows explorer from a network UNC location to a scratch folder on their roaming profiles. Obviously each school will be different in terms of configuration, but this is definitely worth checking out. I’ve also just noted that this is required for week 5 as well.

In terms of the week 3 and 4 projects (fireworks and fruit machine) the classes ran very differently to the initial weeks. There’s a definite learning curve, and some of the children started to have trouble following the instructions explicitly to get the projects to work. None of the problems were unusual, but due to the increased complexity, a lot more compelx questions came up. Since I’ve got 17 children in my class, I started to fall behind with all the questions, as sometimes it was taking me a minute or so to debug or sort out each issue. This just goes to prove the theory that code club promote of looking to have a number of children under 12 in the club, to keep it manageable and give everyone a fair go. I’m lucky as I have a great teacher in the club to help me, but it’s still harder to keep up now.

What this has also meant in practice is that I’m having to be more creative in my plans, and last week I split the children into 2 groups, one group were left to code on their own for a few minutes with the project notes and the others did some coding with me collaboratively on the computer / projector at the front of the class. This allowed me to maintain 2 separate tracks and hopefully everyone still got something out of the club. As the weeks have progressed less and less children have managed to finish the projects. In itself this is not a problem, as obviously everyone learns at different speeds, but it means you need to think more creatively about how to give each child a sense of accomplishment at the end of the hour.