By Kevin Lawver
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Patrick Bentley has been working on getting a CoderDojo up and running at Woodville-Tompkins for months, and it’s finally happening! We met with the faculty sponsor, Ms. Colonel on 11/17 and came up with a rough plan for how we’ll run the Dojo and how we’ll introduce the kids to coding. It’s a little outside of a normal dojo: we’re working with high school students, and they have lots of ideas for apps and products, and not much exposure to how those apps get built.

Our working theory right now is that we’re going to run it like a lean startup incubator instead of a regular dojo. We have a rough plan for how we’ll get started, how we’ll get the students rolling on their ideas and how we’ll involve the community. Your feedback is definitely welcome, and we’ll need volunteers to be mentors, guest speakers and beta testers. If you’re interested in volunteering, please join Slack and hop in the #coderdojo channel, or email kevin@lawver.net (Slack is cooler).

Here’s a rough outline of how we’re going to get started. There are 20 Thursdays in school between our first meeting and our last. That’s not a lot of time or wiggle room…

We’re also going to try to keep a Google Slides deck updated with what we do every week as an artifact. It’ll get updated before every session (assuming we need to update it – some weeks are just for getting things done).

Our first meeting is 12/1 and we’ll be updating this page as we get rolling (and as you provide feedback to tell us what we’re missing):

Week 1 (12/1): Introductions, Brainstorming, Pick Teams

  • What app ideas do you have? What problems are you trying to solve? What are your goals for being here?
  • We might pick ideas in week one, but we might just narrow it down to a few finalists and set up a place to discuss things.
  • There will be 15 students total, and it all depends on the number of ideas they’re excited about, but ideally, we’d have 5 teams of 3.

Outcome

  • We made it through the agenda for week one! All of it! We got through introductions, a little bit about how we think things will work, and have 3 solid ideas we spent some time brainstorming on. The kids might have been a little scared, but I think that’s good. On to week 2!

Week 2 (12/8): Lean startup / Customer Discovery

  • Presented by Yvonne Jouffrault!
  • How do you turn an idea or a problem into a solution?
  • Customer discovery
  • Homework: Talk to potential customers, socialize idea, get feedback

Week 3 (12/15): Agile / Kanban

  • Presented by Angela Niu!
  • How do you plan a project when you don’t know exactly what you’re building?
  • How Kanban helps make that easier.
  • Homework over the break:
    • Mood boards of favorite logos and marketing pages
    • 5-10 strong descriptive words for each app
    • sign up for github w/ student email address, give Ms. Colonel your username.
    • if you tried to sign up and it didn’t work, what went wrong?
  • Homework for organizers:

Week 4 (1/5): Content Strategy & Github Setup

  • Presented by Kevin
  • Review mood boards and descriptive words
  • Content layout strategies
  • Start writing copy in a Google Doc
  • Github & Github Pages intro
  • Make sure everyone’s in the right team / get pages repos set up!
  • Homework:
    • Keep working on the copy.
    • Try to have the copy finalized by next week.

Week 5 (1/12): Let’s talk about design and marketing!

  • Presented by ?
  • Start working on the marketing homepage.
  • Based on what you think your customers need, how can you convince them to use your product?
  • Paper prototype design, start on copy, logo designs
  • Maybe have a designer or two come in and talk about logo design and mood boards?
  • Homework:
    • Keep working on text – how much text should your page have? What do you need to say to convince your customer?

Week 6 (1/19): Let’s do some HTML!

  • Probably presented by Kevin
  • We have a design, how do we turn it into a web page?
  • How the web works intro
  • How browsers work
  • HTML & CSS intros

Week 7 – 11 (1/26 – 2/23): Work on marketing pages.

  • Probably going to use Bootstrap + theme or this one, so we’ll need to talk about that early on.
    • Open to recommendations on this one… but I know Bootstrap really well at this point.
  • Let’s get them working in Chrome and then on our phones.
  • Deployed to Github & “live” on Github pages.

Week 12 (3/1 @ 1 Million Cups?): Demo & Feedback Day

  • Invite local entrepreneurs, designers, developers, educators
  • Show off marketing pages and how we built them.
  • Feedback, praise, etc.

Week 13 (3/2): OK, now what?

  • Talk about user stories
  • Start taking what we promised on the marketing page and turn it into features.
  • Good time to talk about what an MVP is.
  • Design on scope for the MVP
  • Will need an architect volunteer per team to help guide them towards something achievable.

Week 14 (3/9): Set up Kanban board, create user stories

  • Talk about Kanban, help each team set up their board (maybe w/ waffle.io?)
  • Create issues for what they need to learn and research
  • Create issues for any help they need to build what they want.
  • Homework: Who can help? Ask them for help this week!

Week 15-? (3/16 – ?): Let’s roll!

  • Teams should be working on either learning or building.
  • Will need volunteers every week to help solve problems, get teams unstuck, etc.
  • May want to take break weeks for guest speakers to talk about how they built their products, etc.
  • Guest speakers on their discipline w/in the startup world would be cool too.

End of the Year Demo Day (5/4 or 5/11?)

  • Like the marketing demo day, have students, tech community, educators, etc, come in and try things out
  • Prizes?
  • Internships?
  • This feels like it’s so far away, but having some celebration to show off what everyone’s been working on would be awesome.

That’s a first draft, and it is aggressive. I think the goal should be to have at least a prototype/MVP working for each time by the end of the school year, even if it’s static HTML and a little javascript using something like Firebase for the backend.

This might actually be more weeks than are left in the school year so we may need to scale back, but, I wanted to get this up so we can talk about it and poke holes in it!

What do you think? What am I missing? Who wants to come speak and about what? Who wants to volunteer?

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