Teaching Javascript

I spent a bunch of the day today working on a Javascript curriculum that I’ll be teaching a bunch of kids next week.

For the interested, you can take a look at my Javascript lesson plan here.

One of the things I’m kinda excited about is trying out a totally different way of teaching JS.  First off, the kids will have already been introduced to both HTML/CSS and Python: a few days of each.  But most importantly, I’m gonna try diving straight into making things.

Changing colors dynamically, moving shit around, animation, building your own image search engine, etc. they’re all in the first few hours of learning the language.

What I’m not touching on is the fundamentals.  “This is an array”.  “This is passed by value, this is passed by reference”. “This is an object.”

It’s an interesting (and potentially dangerous) way to approach this stuff.  For example, they won’t have a memory model of how a lot of these things work, which I suspect is going to really hurt debugging.  But we’ll see.

On the other hand, I suspect we’re gonna get a lot more enthusiasm from the kids than we did with the same class last year.  It’s kinda hard to keep them awake through yet another syntax lesson.

Anyway, I’m still iterating on the lesson plan.  (And it doesn’t contain all my voice overs.)  But feedback welcome!


Introducing Thimble: webmaking made easy

Like, totally just copied from the Mozilla blog

Today we are proud to launch a new Mozilla Webmaker app to the world. Meet Thimble, the new tool that makes it incredibly simple for anyone to create and share their own web pages and other projects in minutes.

Thimble is webmaking made easy. It’s an intuitive visual editor that lets you write and edit HTML right in your browser, preview and correct your work, and then publish and share fully functional web pages with a single click. Thimble removes many of the barriers for novice users trying to learn code, and includes a series of starter projects and templates to help anyone get started quickly.

Wired Webmonkey calls Thimble “one of the friendliest, easiest-to-use code editors we’ve seen.” We’re extremely excited about it, and it’s at the heart of Mozilla Webmaker’s mission to move people from using the web to making the web — and to create a more web literate planet.

Meet the new webmaker.org web site

To mark the launch of Thimble, we’re also unveiling a new Mozilla Webmaker web site today. Check out the new webmaker.org.

The new site includes projects to help users make and learn with Thimble, plus other Webmaker tools like Popcorn and the X-Ray Goggles. We’ve got great new projects to help you do everything from tweaking your blog template, to making interactive videos, to creating fantastic 3D web pages — including projects from partners like Tumblr, the London Zoo, the New York Public Library and many others.

The Summer Code Party starts this weekend!

We’re inviting the world to use these new Mozilla tools and projects as part of our big summer learning campaign, the Mozilla Summer Code Party. The party starts June 23 with a “Global Weekend of Code” and rolls all summer long.

So far, more than 330 Summer Code Party events have been created by community members around the world. It’s a great chance to learn more about coding and how the web works by making something fun with family and friends. You can find an event near you or start your own here.

Learn more and get involved

People around the world will get together to make and learn this weekend using Thimble and other new Webmaker tools and projects. It’s all part of the Mozilla Summer Code Party, and it kicks off June 23.

We encouraged people to learn to program, and look what happened

Via jwz.  And let’s be honest, the real travesty is the implicit braces, the uncapitalized ‘foo’ and the lack of docstring…

Is your credit card stolen?


Reason #473878543 we need to teach people about how the web works. 🙂

Mozilla Webmaker, and the Summer Code Party

It kinda sounds like the name of a Harry Potter book, doesn’t it?  Mozilla Webmaker, and the Summer Code Party.

Ahhh yes, that must be the novel in which a Mozilla Webmaker encounters a 404 page, and has to enlist the help of his friends to defeat it, only to discover that the only safe way to sail through the world wide web … is aboard … a friend – ship.  (/tinygag)

What it means, though, is that we finally have an awesome central hub to send people who want to learn how to make things on the web: webmaker.org

To kick off this initiative, we’re launching the Summer Code Party, which starts on June 23rd:

We’re inviting everyone to join or volunteer at free local events and teach-ins around the world. With new Webmaker tools, event kits and starter projects designed to make it easy, social and fun.
We’re not doing this alone. We want to build a big tent for everyone who shares our goal of a more web literate planet. Amazing partners are joining the party, from Tumblr, Creative Commons and Code for America to SoundCloud, the San Francisco Public Library, the London Zoo, and dozens of others. Plus special events with Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow, OK GO’s Damian Kulash, and more.
What types of programs can participate? Summer camps, day camps, summer schools, public libraries, recreation centers, neighborhood groups, your kitchen table — anyone with a willingness to make, learn and engage using the open building blocks of the web.

From: openmatt.org

If you’re interested in participating in the Summer Code Party, you can find an event near you, or create your own.  This is a great opportunity for the readers of this blog to think about the people around them who might be interested in learning a bit of webmaking.  You don’t have to be a web pro to create an event — all you need is a few friends, a kitchen table to gather around, and a desire to build, make and play.  We’ll try to help with the rest! 🙂

Organizing instructor events: hackjam and meetup

I’ve now had two great instructor-based events: the Toronto hackjam, and the Boston meetup.

In my ongoing attempt to make myself as obsolete as possible, I’ve put together two documents for folks who are interested in running similar events in their area.

I definitely want to try more of these types of events — I think I learned a lot in both cases, but I’d also like to start seeing them spread beyond the confines of my little packed calendar.  So if you’re interested in running one of these in your local area, let me know!

Toronto Teacher Hackjam: photos and thanks

Last Saturday at the Mozilla Toronto offices we held a hackjam for classroom teachers with the idea of exploring the concept: how can I inject learning technology directly into my existing curriculum?

We had a great turn-out of 40+ teachers from K-8 all the way through college.

Some photos of the event here:

Toronto Teacher Hackjam – May 05, 2012

Big thanks to the session instructors who did all the heavy lifting of motivating and inspiring our participants:

  • Marco Tomada and Zaki Patel: Introduction to Scratch
  • Laurie MacDougall: Collaborative Story Writing on the Web
  • Matt Price: Digital Social Studies with Google Maps and Javascript
  • Rochelle Mazar and Lauren Di Monte: Wikipedia Editing for Credit
  • Laura Hilliger: Intro to Collaborative Web Making
  • Kate Hudson: Making Web Movies with Popcorn
  • Shadi Yazdan: Edmodo in the Classroom

For those of you who are sad that you couldn’t make it, or horribly jealous and wish we could host one in your city, I plan on putting together a howto for this type of event format, so please do contact me if you’re interested in giving it a shot. 🙂