Pirate Coders

by Lori Gracey

This is a guest blog post by Shana Russell, who is the Campus Technology Specialist at Lutheran High North in Houston. You can read more of her work here.

Well, shiver me timbers! Monday morning at the convention, Kirsten Wilson and Sue Fitzgerald taught us how to “Create a Band of Pirate Coders.”

This instructional technology coach and librarian did not set out to create a coding club. Their group originated with the formation of a “tech lunch club” where student library assistants taught other students how to use Google sites. By being attentive and listening to the needs of the students, Kirsten and Sue quickly realized that these kids wanted something more than just Google sites. Some might call it a mutiny, but they saw that the students attending these sessions had a passion for computers and coding, and the tech lunch club soon evolved into a group of “pirate coders.”

Kirsten and Sue lacked the programming knowledge to actually teach the sessions, but this did not stop them. They acted as facilitators and helped their student teachers set goals, plan lessons, and collaborate with one another. Students set up days to meet during lunch and were so enthusiastic that they sometimes showed up at the library daily, sometimes even before the librarian, to work on their programs.

As Sue states in her blog, “It is unrealistic nor good instructional practice to presume the teacher remains the expert and captain of the ship. For motivation, passion, and creativity to be fostered in students, we have to stop being the tyrannical captain and become the endearing Love Boat Captain, Merril Stubing.”

By allowing the students to captain the ship, Sue and Kirsten discovered that they could sail limitless seas. I left their session motivated to start a mutiny of my own at our high school. Hopefully, they won’t make me walk the plank.

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