Blog Post

From Latin to Coding: A Teachers’ Journey (Part 3)

As I mentioned in my last post, the Coding Club was my next adventure in CS, and it would become a turning point in my educational career. I had been questioning if I should continue as an educator or explore other opportunities. In retrospect, the success of the Coding Club gave me the chance to love education again. It not only gave me the opportunity to utilize my new-found passion for CS, but it also made me realize that I could be successful at teaching.

The Coding Club was the last period of the day, and it was optional for students. I had a roster of twenty-five students. The curriculum was predominantly based on front-end website development, which I created with NYCDA’s help. Initially, I taught the students how to create websites using HTML and CSS, the files of which were developed using Notepad, and ultimately, Sublime Text. This curriculum was sustainable for the first few weeks, but I found that the students were losing interest. I realized that I needed to create a less stringent curriculum and one that used extrinsic motivation to regain interest. I went back to NYCDA for some advice, and they suggested Codecademy.

I did some research on Codecademy, created an account, and began completing exercises on HTML and CSS. As I finished them, I noticed that I received badges every time that I completed a certain number of exercises. These badges not only motivated me to continue, but they also became the focal point for motivating my students to continue to come to the Coding Club.

As I continued my research on Codecademy, I discovered its teacher tracker website application, where a teacher can create a class and track how many exercises and badges their students accumulate. I developed a class roster for my Coding Club, but I knew that the badges wouldn’t be enough to motivate my students so I created an elaborate token economy, which awarded students a prize after they accumulated a certain number of badges. These awards included candy, food, stickers, and other items I could find for cheap prices. I ultimately had the students work together to accumulate a certain number of badges for the above prizes. I found the same students were receiving the awards and were clearly more motivated than their peers. The team work aspect of the token economy turned out to be the most successful strategy to get them to attend the Coding Club each day. I’m proud to say that it was one of the most attended clubs at the school. So I put a feather in my cap, and ultimately my school approached me to help get ScriptEd for everybody.