The purpose of my clubs is to inspire and to help young people love coding. To have fun while learning about coding. To me this means a certain amount of freedom to explore, be creative and share with their peers. Unlike a lesson, it can result in a noisy environment that appears to be unstructured.
What will the purpose of your club be? Be clear with your young people how it will work.
The aim of my club is to complete fun projects that they will be proud to show their parents and friends.
What is your aim? Do you have a list of outcomes required, like a curriculum? If so, this will form the basis of your club and give it a structure.
I usually run clubs either alone or with a volunteer. This can be difficult to manage if the members of the club need help all at once! Will you set a limit to how many members you will have? Will you have an assistant and how experienced are they? What happens if you can’t be there one week? It is all in the planning! However, it is possible to manage the club with you or your assistant having an idea of the project and having a go yourself beforehand.
How long will your club be? I have found that an hour and a half is optimal. In a structured club, you could have an hour for completing the project, and the last half an hour to share and journal learning.
A club can be run very cheaply, if you have access to computers and the internet, there are free resources available. For example, Scratch is a block based language that is online (no downloading), easy to access and free to use with tutorials available for immediate start. Code Club is a charity that has a wealth of free information, including a Scratch curriculum to follow. And there are other free resources available!
5 Target Audience
Scratch is aimed at ages 8-13 years, and this works well from a club point of view. My experience is that younger ones can struggle a little and need a lot of structure and 1:1 help, where as the older ones need freedom but also supervision to keep them on track. Will your club members be mainly young ones, where you will need to provide a consistent structure? Or older ones where you will give them a certain amount of freedom and be on hand to assist? This will depend on the experience of the club leader too.
Dependent on the location of your club, word of mouth may be enough. Parents are usually very keen for their children to carry on learning outside of school hours and the children themselves are so keen for any excuse to be on the computer!
If you are not charging the members of your club, Code Club UK will be happy to list your club and you can search for volunteers on there too!
7 Measuring Success
I like to keep things simple! At the end of the session I ask the members for a thumbs up or thumbs down. You may need to keep a more structured record. If there is a lesson plan, checking if everyone achieved the outcome is a good start. My recommendation is to keep it light and easy for your members. Some clubs have a journal, which can work quite well. You may need to allow time for that to be filled out within the club.
It is not difficult to run a coding club! Don’t be put off by lack of knowledge or experience. The young people in your club will enjoy seeing you learn just as much as you seeing them learn! It also brings a community feel to it if they’re involved and allowed to express their creativity.
Please feel free to get in touch for more!