New Teachers Guide


#1

Welcome to Code Combat. This is a simple guide to get you started. It is for teachers who want to do Code Combat, but have not coding experience. There are a few important choices you will need to make as you start to plan your class. This will be the first of a few posts on the topic. Eventually, it will be added to the teacher’s guide. Proofreading and thoughts are appreciated.

Choosing a programming language:

When you use CodeCombat in your classroom you will have a choice of 2 programming languages Python or JavaScript. If your school has standards about teaching one of the languages, you should choose it. Here is a basic rundown of which I would use:

Python
Python is one of the easiest to learn programming languages in use today. It is both beginner friendly and currently used by major corporations (such as Google). Python stands out for its simple formatting. Many
other programming languages require 2 sets for formatting rules, one for the computer to read and one to make it easy for people to read. Python uses 1 set of formatting that is readable by both people and computers. This means less typing and easier debugging. If you are teaching an introductory coding course with no specific end project in mind, Python is the way to go.

JavaScript
JavaScript is the most widely used programming language in the world today. This is largely due to it’s use in the internet. JavaScript is considered a beginner friendly language, but is noticeably more difficult than Python for beginners (especially Primary / Middle School students). Expect to spend more time chasing down missing parentheses and a forgotten semi-colon. It uses a set of formatting rules more similar to most other programming languages, which can make it more useful if a teacher is planning on continuing with other projects after Code Combat.

Choosing which mode to use:

Codecombat has three different modes that can be used. Free, Courses,and Subscription. This tells you a little about each.

Courses:
Courses is especially designed for teachers and use in the classroom.Students progress linearly, use standard heroes, and will always have the correct equipment equipped. This means you will spend less time helping them fix problems caused by poor equipment / hero choices. Students also have access to help videos for each level to help them if they get stuck. Generally students will progress the fastest while
using courses mode.

Note that for courses hour of code is free, after that payment is required. You will need to contact CodeCombat to get a quote for the cost.

Free:

In most countries (except China and Brazil) there is a free mode to code combat for students to use at home. This will give access to much of the same content as the courses mode, but will mean slower progress students don’t have access to help videos and can also make simple gaming mistakes with character selection and student progression in non-linear fashion. You can get a class to function well with this mode, but it will require more familiarity with the game.

Subscription:
If I was running an after-school program with a budget, I would use subscriptions. Full subscriptions are the most expensive option, but can come with a discount if you buy them in bulk (contact Code Combat
for a quote). Students will have access to a wide variety of content and levels for reinforcement. That being said, this would require more time invested as a teacher as you would need to be familiar with the many options students have to get themselves into trouble (Wizards can get into all sorts of mischief). Do note that subscribers also have access to help videos.

Basic Lesson Layout:

Well now you have chosen what you want to do. Now all you need to think about is how to teach it. Here 3 different options how to approach CodeCombat in the classroom. Keep in mind to give students
plenty of time to work. Do note that the lesson plans I have provided on this post are intentionally vague about the instructional strategy. They were written to let you copy and paste for your own paperwork requirements.

Code Combat teaches. Teacher helps struggling students.
Code Combat is designed to not need a formal instructional component. Although many teachers feel that they must get up and speak every class, it is not strictly necessary with Code Combat. All the
directions are contained within the game. In this mode students will work independently and the teacher will help them with they hit a problem area. This will mean that your class will quickly become separated with some students making quicker progress than other students, who will fall behind, however; if you have join your class mid-quarter or miss a day due to illness, this will happen anyway.

Proceed together
In this mode you can introduce every level to the students, have everyone complete it and then move on to the next level. The main benefit of doing it this way are that everyone is together and you know how far students are. This requires the planning of teaching materials for each level. This site contains a good selection of ppts to help with that.

Problem areas together
If you run code combat, you will notice areas of the game that a lot of students struggle with. There are some concepts that students don’t just pick up easily. If you know a problem area is coming or you identify that students are in one, you can spend some time going over it with the whole class. This is also useful for review after a break.


Student vs Free differences
#2

Quick signup trick for students without emails:

You can use a single gmail account to sign up for as many separate Code Combat accounts as you would like. First you start with a new gmail account, such as:

schoolname@gmail.com

Then you can just add a + to the school name for each student to create separate log ins. All emails will still go to the same account.

schoolname+student1@gmail.com
schoolname+student2@gmail.com


#3

Even Quicker Email-less Student Sign-up:

If you have a Class in CodeCombat, you will have a Class Code. Any students who create an account using a Class Code can now skip the email address requirement, making signing up students without emails even easier.