This is my third year teaching with Code.org’s CS Principles curriculum. Last year and the year before, I assigned my students to the coding lessons and told them to work through at their own pace. Most of my students, whether they had a strong coding background or no experience at all, were able to get through the lessons fairly quickly and feel successful. Occasionally, I would stop the class for a bit to go over some big new ideas or to discuss some of the more difficult coding problems. The coding units were my students’ favorite part of the class, and mine as well.
With the major revisions to the coding section, my students have struggled a lot more. Even my top students are having a lot of problems. These are students who have taken previous coding classes and who I have seen write amazing code, and now they are constantly asking questions because they don’t get it. Everyone is struggling to understand things like where parentheses and brackets go or that you have to put quotation marks around strings. I’m stopping far more often to discuss these issues as a class, and yet they still crop up all the time.
Does anyone have any suggestions for how to help students be successful at this? We have spent way more time in these units than I had intended, and yet I feel like we need even more time if my students are to complete the projects, which is valuable practice for the AP tasks. Coding has gone from being my students’ favorite part of the course to being their least favorite. Any suggestions on how to turn this around would be very welcome.