First adventures with Code It

This year I decided to take on the challenge of designing and teaching curriculum for Code It, a program that teaches middle school girls how to code. It’s been quite the adventure sifting through all the computer science resources available online and selecting ones that I want to use. So far, we have had two sessions, and already I have learned so much about teaching an actual class.

During the first session, I had originally planned to walk the girls through making three basic apps on MIT App Inventor. On the morning of the first class, I was really excited about using App Inventor until I realized that I made the rookie mistake of not having the phone emulator application downloaded onto the computers beforehand. Because we were using school computers, I didn’t have administrator’s privileges to install the emulator myself. I had a huge panic attack, but luckily I was able to contact the person in charge of the computer lab space. After I downloaded the disk image file onto all 24 of the computers, the tech consultant was able to remotely install the emulator for me. I was so, so, so grateful for his help, especially because it was a Saturday morning. Lesson learned = Make sure you have all the required materials and resources ahead of time!

After resolving that issue, I thought I had overcome the biggest obstacle (at least for that day), but I was wrong. Out of all the possible times that MIT’s connection to Google servers could break, some external force decided that the best time would be right when I was starting MIT App Inventor with the girls. Long story short, we weren’t able to use App Inventor. I quickly improvised and pulled together a mix of icebreakers and an unplugged activity to fill the remaining time. Luckily, I think it went considering the situation, but I’d imagine the girls were disappointed that they were unable to make their apps.

Right from day one, I learned that Murphy’s law still applies to teaching: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. I guess that’s just one reason why teaching is such an adventure!

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