Earlier this month Llewellyn and I taught six 6th grade girls to program. We were invited to be guest instructors at the Girls’ Middle School Intersession. While there we taught 3 hours per day for 5 days. This was a great opportunity for us to try out our recipe library with new programmers.
Here’s what we did:
1) We taught 2-3 recipes plus more* (detail below) per day
2) We taught in both SmallBasic and in Java
3) We used Agile techniques, such as pair programming, 5-minute sprints, refactoring, test-driven techniques and more.
*Detail of which recipes we taught per day --First day we taught Square/Pentagon Crazy --Second day we taught DigiGirlz Flower/Spiral/Triangle Shell/FourSquare --Third day we taught HiLow Game, then moved into Java, there we re-taught the recipes in Java SimpleSquare and more --Fourth day we taught TurtleTree and Shape Maker (FourSquare, Triangle, DigiGirlz Flower and Wheel), HiLow Game --Fifth day we taught user story for reverse HiLow Game, wrote the recipe together, then coded the game
Here’s what we found out:
1) Teaching at school is quite different from leading a single-day event. Wow! Teaching takes an incredible amount of energy – we salute and respect our teachers even more after this experience.
2) Switching from Small Basic to Java during a week-long course is quite challenging for kids. We did this because each girl at school uses a her own school-issued Mac laptop.
3) After a couple of 3 hour sessions, 12 year old kids can understand and use full IDEs to code concepts such as Variables, Methods, For loops, If statements, Arrays and more.
We were quite proud of the girls work during the week. They were happy about what they coded as well. The girls chose to present their work at the Intersession recap. Check out the video below.