Engagement is a big part of learning and retention. A coder who is engaged in code club is going to progress through the learning process and keep coming back. So the question is, how do we create engagement?
We believe a big part of engagement comes from making connections and forming relationships with others in the room. And we believe that those connections and relationships happen best when the facilitator is intentional about fostering those kind of collaborative environments.
Here’s a video where Luke gives a couple super-practical ideas for how to create those kind of collaborative environments:
1. Ice Breakers
Every once and a while begin code club with a short ice breaker. Let the coders say their name and something interesting about them. Simple, right?
Not only do Ice breakers remove any tension in the room, but they allow coders to learn other coder’s names. And that’s a great start to forming meaningful connections and relationships.
2. Share Projects
When kids have the opportunity to share projects they have an incentive. Getting to show off what you’ve been working on is probably the most intrinsic motivation out there. Provide a platform for this to happen! Leave 20 minutes at the end of code club for kids to share a project.
3. Buddy System
When a coder come up to you with a question, do not answer it. Instead, ask the whole room, “Does anyone in here know how to solve this particular problem?” And when several hands go up, point the coder to someone who can help.
This gives coders an extra opportunity to interact and solve a problem with a peer. Again, the relationships and connections happen through these kinds of interactions.
4. Background Music
It’s so simple, but a little background music can go a long way. It can be a real environment changer. I’d recommend putting something light, but with a beat on. Nothing too crazy and intense, and nothing that’s going to lull everyone to sleep (try to stay away from Tupac on the one end and Mozart on the other).
If your code club is quiet and motionless, it’s time to start trying some of these methods. A little bit of chaos is good.