Set your writer’s side free with National Novel Writing Month!

Join the US team in participating in National Novel Writing Month throughout November and write to your heart’s content!

There’s a million stories inside us, all just waiting to be told. But it’s up to each of us to let them out! You’re not alone in wanting to share your story: this month, something HUGE is taking place in the world of writing — it’s National Novel Writing Month!

Every year, writers and storytellers in the US spend the month of November writing their own stories with the aim of completing a first draft by the end of the month. But writing isn’t the only way to tell a story, so we want to challenge your Code Club members to unleash their storytelling skills and harness their coding skills to create an original story in Scratch!

This challenge presents a brilliant opportunity for young people to explore not only their creative writing skills, but also to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills by using Scratch to build interactive stories and animations. It will empower young people to share their thoughts and ideas, and to express what truly excites them.

Get started: Pick a genre and plot

It’s easy to get intimidated by the blank page, especially when you’re trying to come up with an original story on your own, but there are a number of ways to make it easier for your club members to begin this challenge. To start, it might be helpful to have your coders think about what genre they want to explore. Genres can loosely be described as:

  • Fiction – a story where most, if not all of the details, are created from your imagination
  • Nonfiction – a story where all of the details are true, meaning everything actually happened
  • Poetry – a story written in “lines” and “stanzas”, rather than paragraphs, and that can sometimes rhyme
  • Drama – a story that is usually acted out in a play, musical, ballet, etc.

Next, get your students to think about their favorite story; this can help them find inspiration for what type of story they want to tell. And once they feel good about their idea, they can start putting their story together for their coding project!

Write your heart out

Once your club members are happy with their story idea, the next step is to create a Scratch project where they can bring their story to life and share it with others. Check out this project card we’ve made with writing-themed projects to help your coders explore different ways they can code their story. As always with coding, the possibilities are endless! Maybe they’ll want to format their story as a comic or have it acted out on a theater stage with different sprites playing each character.

However they choose to tell their story, we want to see it!

Three projects to help your coders

Check you’ve got the write stuff

This challenge is designed to take place over the course of the entire month of November, so it’s important for your coders to keep track of their progress. We’ve created a checklist to help them make sure their project has all the necessary elements, and when they’re ready to share their tale, your authors can upload their projects to our dedicated storytelling Scratch studio. 

  1. Pick a genre for your story
  2. Brainstorm an original story idea
  3. Come up with an exciting title
  4. Start writing your story
  5. Complete a first draft of your story
  6. Create a Scratch project where you can share your story
  7. Proofread your story and check your code 
  8. Upload your story to our Scratch studio
  9. Share your project on social media using the hashtag #MyCodeClub
  10. You’re done! 

Let your writer’s side shine! 

We have an inkling that this challenge is going to be full of page-turners! We’d love to see how your students get on with this, so make sure to use the hashtag #MyCodeClub to share what your Code Club is working on!

Micro-interview with Code Club Growth Partner, Generación Tec 

Enjoy our micro-interview blog series, where we chat to educators and young coding enthusiasts and hear about their Code Club experience. 

Generación Tec is a Code Club Growth Partner in Peru. In 2019, they started to grow the club network in the capital, Lima, through a project managed by the British Council.

Building a sense of community is an important part of Code Club; this can be done by celebrating young people’s successes and by providing ongoing support to volunteers. Generación Tec shines a light on how they’re doing just this in Peru.

Let’s get started…

Why do you believe it is important to recognise the achievements of young people in Code Clubs?

Since computing education is not part of the Peruvian curriculum, it is important to provide students with spaces to learn and develop computing skills, and more importantly, their computational thinking. Also, it is important to foster STEAM education and the participation of more girls in STEAM careers, and Code Clubs are the perfect space for that.

There is a “diploma culture” in Peru. People are used to receiving certificates and diplomas for their participation and achievement, and they become part of their “Curriculum Vitae”. Parents like to share their kids’ accomplishments, as they are considered a reflection of their “good job” as parents too.

How does Code Club build a sense of community among learners? 

By sharing the opportunity with their peers and being able to solve problems together, they create bonds that go beyond the Code Club space. It gives young people the opportunity to share what they have learned with a sense of pride and belonging. 

It is important for them to know that there are other young people that share their interests, and to feel they are not the “weird” ones. Sometimes an interest in science and computing in early ages is considered less important than an interest in sports, for example, and is not promoted. 

That is why it makes it even more important to provide a fun, safe space to develop their talents.

Can you share how you’re building a community of volunteers for Code Clubs in Lima?  

In August, we started with an open call for volunteers, and an information session for school leaders, where we will promote the opening of new Code Clubs.

We have found that the main setback is the lack of confidence of teachers and volunteers, and their fear to “fail” as Code Club leaders. By providing early training and ongoing support, we will address that particular issue and help Code Clubs live longer, healthier, more fun lives. 

Thanks Generación Tec, keep up the good work!

If you enjoyed this micro-interview, read our micro-interview with Sue and learn about her experiences of using the Code Club resources and projects in her club, in the UK. 

If Generación Tec’s journey with Code Club has sparked your interest, explore how you can become a Code Club Global Partner!

Progression in Code Clubs: What matters to you?

Although Code Clubs are fun and informal, some clubs like to observe and track the progress that their members make. Over the summer, we consulted members of our global Code Club community to find out what you see and value as progress.

We also talked about the tools available to help you observe and celebrate progress. Here’s what you told us!

Melbourn Code Club

What kind of progress do you value seeing in your Code Club?

The progress that our community talked about most was growth in confidence and independence, followed closely by growth in “creativity and innovativeness”. 

Firstly, I want to see our learners being happy and enjoying the club. I like to see the students’ skills develop. I like to see them make their own things to build their skills beyond the tutorials. Rhiwbina Library, Wales

The most interesting thing for us is to observe if students are changing the projects we propose, and if they are creating their own things away from the club. Also we’re interested in stimulating teacher confidence in using Code Club tools outside of the club environment. Tagusvalley, Portugal

I’d like to see them code better and design applications that have direct application in the real world. Faridabad, India

Club members from St Paul’s C of E Academy, Sandwell

Our community also wanted to see coders “tackling and grasping more challenging concepts” as well as growing their  “problem solving, debugging, and critical thinking” skills.

I like to see the young people tackling increasingly complex projects, and having the confidence to move from Scratch to Python, or to try physical computing with Picos or micro:bits. Cranmere Primary, England

What progress would you like to keep track of?

Clubs are interested in easy, automatic ways to track progress. The progress most clubs wanted to keep track of was young people’s development of “programming skills” followed by their progression through Code Club projects and pathways

I would like to be able to see what kinds of functions students were able to add to a program independently. For example, if a student used an if/else conditional appropriately or if they used a function that they created. Dr Knox Middle School, Canada

Specific skills, such as using selection, sequence, repetition, and variables.
Kingston St. Mary Primary School, UK

I’d like to see pupil progress along the various learning pathways. This can easily allow a club facilitator to know who’s progressing and at what pace. Crosshall Junior School, UK

Children having fun with code!

Other community members told us they were also interested in tracking the development of computational logic as well as learning confidence and independence; however, some were not keen on tracking at all. 

I don’t feel the need to track progress at all. It is a non-formal club, not a lesson. Anonymous

Why track progress?

Our community members expressed a general consensus that tracking progress increased awareness of learners’ progression and several people discussed other positives to monitoring development.

For example, Fiona Lindsay from Hillside School in Scotland valued automatic tracking of individual progress as she felt this would give her a better appreciation of how each child is progressing and who is able to then support newer members of the club.

I’d really like an automatic track of where they are in a project, so I can monitor this, to help me keep better track of where each pupil or pair actually is in their learning journey.

Meanwhile, Sue Gray from Fakenham Library said she uses a spreadsheet to see who has attended her club, how often they’ve come, and what projects they’ve already done. This has helped her to see who is ready to move on to the Introduction to Python path or other projects beyond the Introduction to Scratch pathway.

Similarly, Nick Nurock from Thomas’s Academy felt it would be helpful to receive an automatic reminder of which blocks or commands had been used successfully in a previous week so as to know which concepts to move onto (or remain on) in the following week. 

How to track progress in your Code Club

One way to follow your members’ progress is to create pupil accounts. These enable young people’s work to be saved, so you and they can revisit projects and see how much they have progressed.

You can use Scratch accounts to save projects on our Scratch pathways and Raspberry Pi accounts or Trinket accounts to save projects on our Python and Web design pathways. With a Raspberry Pi account, learners’ progress is tracked automatically through all our pathways. Find out more about this on our digital progress tracking FAQ.

You spoke…we listened! More ways to celebrate progress

We’re excited to share two new resources that we’ve developed in response to some of the needs expressed by members during our community consultations. We hope that they will help you to observe and celebrate progress in your club — no matter how small!

  1. The Unique Feedback certificate is blank and editable. You can tailor it to whatever is valuable to you, to recognise and celebrate your learners.
  2. The accounts permissions letter: this is a template letter for you to obtain parental permission for learners to use accounts during or outside of Code Club sessions. We’ve updated it to include the Raspberry Pi Foundation Code Editor and Raspberry Pi accounts so you can use the automatic tracking features to monitor your learners’ progress. This editable version of the accounts permission letter can be sent to parents by email, while this printable version can be printed and filled out manually.
Unique feedback certificate

We hope that these two new resources will help you keep track of what matters to you. If you have another way to monitor progress that you’d like to share with us, you can contact us at