Making The Best Of It All in Fall 2020

Hello all! To start off the semester of Code Haven with optimism, instead of talking about the finicky changes and issues we’ve dealt with on the rode to this Fall, I’m here today to showcase some of the positive changes as we move online for the Fall of 2020. Without any further ado, here are my top five Code Haven changes for this semester!

First off, as a classroom lead (and a lover of the environment), the move away from printing has been a great change for us. We’re saving tons of trees, and in the process, making our worksheets so much more interactive, fun, and visually exciting! Aaron and Jess will talk next month about their curriculum goals for 2020, but my favorite of their changes so far has been the addition of gifs into all of our worksheets. There’s nothing like seeing a group of penguins cheer you on to get you excited about coding.

Second, our new focus on multimedia teaching has already made such a huge difference. Our video team spoke at length about their motivations and plans for the year, and we couldn’t be happier with the work they’re putting out. Last semester, Gabe and I spent most of our Outreach time working on the text-based online curriculum, and our actors, directors, editors, and everyone else involved in video production have made our online presence so much better. Every time they share a new video, all of us at Code Haven are thrilled to see it, and they’ve found a great way to put new spins on activities we’ve been doing for years.

Third, our plans for Fall events have taken a huge turn, but our team is working hard at figuring out ways to adapt. My favorite event — TeachTech — will be online this year, and we’re really hoping to reach people beyond the East Coast with our new “venue.” In general, we’ve been talking a lot about how to expand Code Haven and reach more people, and with any luck, TeachTech will be the first step in that direction!

Fourth, our learning how to use Zoom and other distance learning techniques has opened up new ways of teaching that I think will be super useful and interesting. Two semesters ago, we had a super fun ‘Guess My Number!’ programming activity set for a lesson, but we decided as a board that it wouldn’t be possible to complete it in one class. This semester, though, since we’re focusing on group programming, we’re repurposing it and making it work. Even though Zoom isn’t an ideal environment, it makes for a perfect place to work in groups and allows for everyone to see what’s happening on the screen. Super excited to get to programming games with the students in Week 4!

Finally, a note of appreciation for the teachers we’re lucky enough to work with this semester. They’ve been so kind, allowing us to shadow them in their normal class time, learn their tricks, and figure out what will work best for us when we start classes for real. This has been a new experience for all our classroom leads, and all of us feel more prepared than usual for our first classes, which is surprising given the entirely new format. We’re all still sad that we can’t work with the Code Haven students in their classrooms, but this change has been fantastic, and we’re sure that this semester will strengthen the bonds between our mentors, classroom leads, and the teachers who we’re so thankful for.

Hopefully this quick rundown of the positives of our situation has made you just as excited as we all are for Code Haven Fall 2020! Wishing everyone in and adjacent to our community a continued easy transition into online learning: we can’t express enough our gratitude, respect, and bedazzlement at your work, and we hope that we can take a fraction of what you’ve taught us into our classrooms!