FEATURE: Can You Code? A Look at a Librarian’s Experience at Code Camp.

Written by: Christa Cordrey; Intro by: Ginger Kirchmyer

Is coding an intimidating idea to you? Although it’s a new hot topic in libraries, many of us are still a little unsure of what to do with this and how to make it work in our own libraries. This summer TASL librarian Christa Cordrey participated in a code camp, and she graciously agreed to share her experience with us. So, whether you’re coding online or using graph paper to synthesize the coding experience, you can read here about incorporating into your library curriculum this school year!


Recently, I hosted a Code Camp in my library… and I want to share the experience with you!

First, there are a lot of materials available, including lesson plans, at Code.org. If you’re interested in teaching yourself to code, that’s a really great starting place. There are tutorials, lesson plans, and coding activities for students.

Second, coding is all about problem solving! I like to use a problem solving recipe that I found on Code.org :

  1. Understand the Puzzle
  2. Write a plan/code
  3. Perform the plan/code.
  4. Check your work.

Too often now, we don’t really teach problem solving as a skill – but it’s in our new standards from AASL! You can frame any task as a problem-solving task, but computer coding lends itself really well to that.

Here’s an example of a simple problem-solving coding task that I give at the beginning of my coding camps: Draw a Square. Let’s break it down in our problem-solving recipe:

  1. Understand the problem. This has one task (draw) and one product (a square).
  2. Write a plan. What tools will we need? A writing utensil for sure! What are the steps to drawing the square? Put the pen to the paper, move it, turn 90 degrees, and repeat 4 times.
  3. Perform the plan. We used Scratch (scratch.mit.edu) to perform this code.
  4. Check your work.

I don’t really break it down much for students. I might help them process out the steps just a bit since it’s their first task, but I don’t help them with the code. They have to figure out the pieces by themselves! Therefore, even though it seems like a really easy problem, it usually takes them a while.

So that’s the first task in my Code Camp! Now throw in some of the Unplugged activities from Code.org and more Scratch coding challenges – and you’ve got it down!

See all of the challenges we did at my Scratch studio: Camp Awesome 2018 (just search for it at Scratch.mit.edu)

See all of the materials I used here.

Good luck with your own camp!

Christa Cordrey is librarian at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School in Nashville. She has been a librarian for 8 years, serving both middle and high schools. Currently, Christa is the technology chair and website manager for TASL.

#codinglibrarians #hourofcode #schoollibrariescode


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