Back to Dojo: A month of Tips & Resources

  • CoderDojo Foundation

    Many CoderDojo clubs, who took a break are returning #BackToDojo. We want to help support all those Dojos who are returning back this term as well as those who run throughout the year.

    Each week during September we will be sharing content you can use in your Dojo and other resources to save you time and effort running your Dojo so both volunteers and children get the most out of it. You will find all the resources linked here as they go live each week!

    So what have we done in advance to make going #BackToDojo easier for you and your Dojo members?

    • We’ve made booking tickets into your Dojo simpler for parents on the CoderDojo platform. Dojo events are easier to discover, the booking process is better at handling group bookings and more! This ensures that parents will have a great experience finding and booking into your next event! Learn more about the improvements that make booking tickets easier for parents and mentors attending your Dojo here.

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    • We’ve started our online free Starting a CoderDojo course. While this is aimed at people interested in starting a Dojo in their local area, even if you’ve been running for years you can learn a lot and find new resources by taking part in the course!

    Week 1:

    This week we will be sharing a selection of beginners content and initial resources you can use when starting back.


    • First to help start your first Dojo off with a fresh activity, why not try out these fun ice breakers.

    New Resources Site

    • We’re moving to a new resources site! With a larger choice of projects to work on in 15+ languages from Italiano to 日本語, filters for different programming languages and skill level, that are broken down into easy to follow steps, our new platform will make or gaining learning resources for your Dojo easier than ever!

    Here are our pick of three projects to try out at your next session:

    • A good choice for those attending a Dojo for the first time is our beginner Scratch for Social Innovation. Children learn the basics of Scratch while building a game where you protect people from malaria by making a parrot catch mosquitoes.

    • A tougher option for ninjas looking for more of a challenge is our HTML/CSS pathway. This is an intermediate level project that focuses on controlling how your website looks.

    • Our wearables projects are really cool. In this project, children will create T-Shirts with LED’s sewn into them. Just remember, you may need to source some of the hardware needed before your Dojo.

    Scratch 3.0

    • The latest version of Scratch is now available! Get Ninjas used to the new layout and additional features of Scratch 3.0 this September so they’ll be all set by
      the time it replaces the old version if Scratch completely in January 2019. See all you need
      to know about the latest version of Scratch

    Week 2:

    Twitter Chat

    • #ChatDojo is back! Join our Twitter chat on Wednesday 12 September from 9am - 9pm GMT+1 to discuss and learn what other CoderDojo clubs are doing to engage young people and volunteers! We’ll learn about resources, organisational content and more!

    See all we discussed here!

  • CoderDojo Foundation

    Thanks to everyone who joined out twitter chat on Wednesday! You can see all those who participated and what insights people shared here. We will also be doing a summery blog with highlights from the 12 hour chat in the coming days!

    Other resources shared this week include this blog on how you can encourage computational thinking offline with unplugged activities. These are really useful for energising children and also a great resource to use if your Dojo doesn’t have internet access.

    Also a great resource for all mentors this term is the Hello World magazine. The next issue is out on Tuesday 18 September and the theme is Ethical Computing. People in the UK can subscribe to a free hard copy. While those anywhere in the world can get a free digital subscription! Learn more here.

    To help those in your Dojo who are interested in mentoring but would love an introduction to programming and computers, the Raspberry Pi Foundation have just released two new free online courses:

    These are a great way to help support and give confidence to non-technical mentors and parents so they can help out more in a Dojo!

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    Week 3:

    This week we are highlighting more developed content, for those who have learned the basics and are interested in not only developing their skills in a particular area, but want to try out different languages and challenges.

    • Want to help kids in your Dojo further develop their HTML/CSS or other programming skills?Our new resourses site clearly lays out a path young people can follow to continue developing their skills, through stepped content. See our HTML/CSS path here.

    You can develop your Dojo through breadth by giving Ninjas the chance to experience a variety of different technical topics at a Dojo. From pausing to address design before diving into code, to sampling other programming languages or experimenting with hardware projects, breadth is about exposing Ninjas to a range of topics in the tech space, so they can find what they enjoy.

    What to watch out for?

    If you do go down this route there are a few things you might want to watch for and take action if you spot them.

    • Ninjas getting bored: If you cover the basics of JavaScript, Python, Java and PHP, you’re going to see variables, loops and conditional statements four times in fairly similar ways. Some Ninjas may grasp these concepts in the first or second language and may not be interested in reviewing them. Using self-led content (like Sushi Cards!) can help here, as those Ninjas can skip over any explanations of concepts, straight to the details of how they’re coded in this particular language.

    • Ninjas finding their favourite and not wanting to move on: If a Ninja is loving a particular topic, ideally you should support them exploring that at a deeper level. However, you may find that your Mentors lack the skills to do so, or that your Dojo can’t split its focus on to too many topics. Options here vary depending on the Ninja. If the Ninja is able, Mentors could offer what help they can while the Ninja pursues self-directed learning. Otherwise, move on to a similar but different topic—maybe the same goals, achieved in another programming language. Pygame instead of Unity, for example.

    • There’s the potential to create confusion, if you cover too many similar topics too quickly. Many programming languages are close enough to confuse you, but not so close that code from one works in the other. It can be frustrating to realise that you’re writing Java code in JavaScript, for example!

    • Getting stuck at a shallow, exploratory level. While the beginner level material is great fun and provides a quick achievement, if you never move away from it then Ninjas will never develop as programmers. Ultimately, at some point, you will have to depart from breadth and choose depth on at least one subject.

    Want some examples of breath content?

    • Beginner Unity Learn a serious games development tool! Unity, which uses the C# language, has been used to create many professional games.

    • Beginner App Inventor Learn to create mobile apps for Android with App Inventor.

    • Beginner Sonic Pi, code your own music!

    • Our Future Makers bento box is a great way for young people to take the skills they’ve learned and apply them to real life scenarios to solve problems they see in their local area and beyond!

    There are other skills young people learn in a Dojo too other that coding skills. Check out our blog on four future proof skills that Dojos help develop. Is there any other skills you feel you help develop at your Dojo?

  • CoderDojo Foundation

    Week 4

    Another great way of engaging older children and teens in your Dojo, particularly after a break is by giving them something to reach towards with their projects.

    Coolest Projects

    At the end of Dojo sessions or at the end of Dojo terms many Dojos encourage young people to showcase projects they have built. The Coolest Projects showcase has always been a great way to further build on this by encouraging kids to create a project within a timeline to share with other children involved in Dojos and the public.

    We will be announcing the dates of the North America, UK and International event (in Ireland) on October 4th so watch out for that on the Coolest Projects challenges!

    Astro Pi Missions!

    Astro Pi too is a great way Dojos can encourage young people to work in teams on a coding project with a clear timeline and targets.

    Young people under 19 that live in an ESA Member or Associate Member State* (or who are in a team with a majority of ESA memeber state residents), can form a team with at least one other young person and apply to the Astro Pi Challenge’s Mission Space Lab by sending their experiment idea by the end of October.

    Young people in your Dojo under 14 interested in taking part in a simpler project (while still getting to have their code run in space) can enter Mission Zero. They can submit their program from 29 October 2018 onward.

    Find out more about the two Asto Pi Missions here.

    Happy International Translation Day!

    Finally as today is International Translation Day, we wanted to say a big thank you to all those from the CoderDojo Community who give their time to help give young people the opportunity to learn coding by translating resources into their own language. Nina our translations manager with the Raspberry Pi Foundation wrote this blog to thank all those who have helped translate resources.

    If you want to help support young people by volunteering your translation skills you can learn more and get involved here.

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