Easy to use!!
I would say that this is an amazing product for early coders at any academic level. Typically a few students have more advanced skills, and that originally intimidated me. However, I’ve always had responses to student (or my) questions within a day. I have also participated in the ITCH webinar boot camp to help teachers, and it really boosted my confidence when it comes to using their resources and coming up with fun activities for my students. It was affordable enough that I was able to use department PD money, and it was totally worth it.
I think the reason I loved this so much is that the lessons are built in, and I could discover coding right along with my students. I also feel like the projects can be fairly simple, but more advanced students can go nuts and make really elaborate projects. This essentially means the differentiation was built in. It also allowed a few of my shy or quiet kids to suddenly be leaders with much higher skills than others.
My main critique actually comes toward my own perception rather than ITCH. I never thought of computer science as teaching collaboration and being fun. I had to relax some of my classroom management ideas because my students turned to one another as resources and as the built in authentic audience for their projects. They ended up making funny, creative, and thoughtful projects. After a few intro units, students created games for change that showed research skills and reflection on social issues that concerned each individual. With my more relaxed setting, students grew as coders and I grew as a librarian!
How I Use It
I am a librarian and English teacher, but I have taken on an intro to coding class at my small, alternative high school. Itch was the perfect solution for a non-coding teacher taking on coding. The lessons with built in videos were great. Students could individually decide to watch the video lessons or read the text direction. After using Itch with a few different groups, I’m continually amazed how much creativity comes out. My students end up “playing” and this is the best learning! I taught using ITCH in a 9 week quarter of intro to coding as part of the school’s 9th-10th library curriculum.