Al Wilson [left], Cole Corrigan [right] and their teacher Caroline Heyblom [back] in front of Pine Glen Public School (Photo taken by Martin Halek)
Sometimes the student becomes the teacher.
Two eighth-graders at Huntsville’s Pine Glen Public School gave their peers, as well as their teacher, a lesson in coding Friday.
“Everybody did really good, everyone seemed to enjoy what they were doing, no one was complaining, just having fun, and a lot of people really liked it,” says Cole Corrigan, one of the students who gave the lesson.
“They were pretty excited that some of their classmates were teaching them, and that they get to do stuff where they actually make something out of it and learn new skills. It was pretty fun, they were pretty fun to work with,” says Al Wilson, the other student-turned-teacher.
The lesson was focused on creating simple programs and games using Scratch Blocks, a free online tool that breaks programming into easy-to-understand “blocks.”
Corrigan says he got interested in coding after a virtual workshop by Google came to the school last year. Wilson says he likes that with a little creativity “you can make anything you want.”
Caroline Heyblom, the grade seven and eight teacher in charge of the boys, says once she saw how much time they were putting into the tool, asking them to teach the others was a no-brainer.
“I noticed they were spending every spare moment that they had doing this coding on Scratch,” says Heyblom. “I asked them about it, and they were so enthusiastic, they were so engaged, that I said, ‘hey guys, you want to teach the rest of the class?’ They jumped on it and they did such a great, great job.”
Heyblom says the programming lesson is hopefully the first in a series of leadership opportunities the school is starting up. She says she’d like to see other students step up to the challenge. According to Pine Glen Principal Tim Clayton, students can take school board-provided Chromebooks home to practice all sorts of skills.
Looking to the future, both Corrigan and Wilson say they’d like to continue with coding. Wilson says he’s interested in the programming language Java, and Corrigan says he isn’t sure what he’d like to learn next, but “definitely plans to give something a try.”