A lot of facilitators get concerned when they see their entire classroom playing games on Scratch or Code.org. We get it! You want to feel like you’re contributing to learning. So do we!
But games aren’t bad. In fact, they can be extremely helpful in motivating someone to learn how to code. Hear Kelly’s thoughts in the video below.
At Prenda we have decided to never force anyone to learn. That never really works anyway. Instead, we want to inspire the desire to learn. How do we do this?
1. Ask a lot of questions.
During code club, make it a point to wander around the room and ask coders “What are you working on today?” They’ll either have something cool to show you, or wish they had something cool to show.
For those who do show you something they’re working on, this is your opportunity to shower that coder with praise and approval. “Wow! What an interesting project!” Those statements can be more motivating to a young coder than candy. And unlike candy, you’ve got an infinite supply. Be generous!
2. Do a show and tell.
Dedicating the last 30 minutes of a code club to sharing projects is a great way to keep coders focused on completing projects instead of simply playing games the whole time. Don’t do it every week, but maybe once a month. Use it as a carrot to dangle for the coders. “What are you going to share at the show and tell next month?”
Also, the kids who don’t share will be inspired by seeing what their peers have been working on. Nothing like a little friendly competition to light a fire under coders.
3. Showing kids new things that are available to them.
Sometimes coders get stuck playing games because they just don’t know all the fun and cool opportunities out there. They don’t know they can remix an existing game or project in Scratch. They don’t know they can create a website in CodePen. If you can show them what’s out there, they might find something that interests them.
In closing, I’d like to reiterate that games aren’t bad. If you surveyed the top computer scientist in the world and asked what percentage of their childhood was spent playing games versus learning to program, I’d bet we’d see something like 70% playing games to 30% learning programming.
Our primary goal is create an encouraging environment. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Let’s make that water as tasty as possible!