Farewell, Lizzie!

Our fabulous graduate assistant Lizzie Isbell will be leaving us at the end of this semester to begin her student teaching and complete her MSLIS degree. We couldn’t be more thrilled for her, but we will miss her dearly. Before she left, though, we got to say one last goodbye and ask a few final questions, and she gave us a rundown of her experience with App Authors and what skills from the project she hopes to bring forward with her as she enters the professional field.

What drew you to the project?
I only knew a little about App Authors until I got an email that they were looking for someone to teach the sessions. I thought it sounded like a really great opportunity to get some teaching experience and coding experience, so I said yes!

What did you find most valuable about the experience?
I came into this program with a little coding experience and very little teaching experience, so this has been a great opportunity for me to learn new things! Since I want to be a K-12 librarian, the teaching experience has been incredibly valuable for me. It’s also been very cool to learn more about coding; many schools are now adding coding into their curricula, and I love that I can teach the kids a few things, and then they just dive in, create, and discover new ways of doing things.

Any challenges?
My biggest challenge was feeling ready to teach the program. I came into the App Authors project with no coding experience, and I felt like I needed to be an expert before I could teach coding to kids. I did a lot of coding practice on Code.org before each session so that I would feel prepared to teach. However, the great thing about App Authors is that you can teach it with very little background knowledge. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to answer questions about coding, but in reality all the kids I’ve worked with have been great problem solvers. If they ever asked me a question that I couldn’t answer, we could usually figure out the answer together.

What was your favorite part? Do you have a favorite app that came out of the project? Did you create any app yourself?
I have so many favorite parts of this program. Most of them involve the reactions from children when they create something amazing. One participant was worried that he wouldn’t be able to create an app, because he hadn’t done very well in his coding class at school. We walked through the planning and designing process together, and by the end of the session he was telling me that I was the best teacher ever, and showing off his completed app. I just love when kids have fun with the process, and end up discovering that they’re capable of more than they thought.

One of my favorite apps that came out of the program was a “choose your own adventure” style game. Users were given two options on each screen, and based on the action they selected, they would be sent to the next screen with a new set of options. A game like that requires a lot of planning, and I was really impressed with the outcome!

I created a few practice apps in preparation for teaching this program, and one of my favorites was the “Pet the Dog” app, where I uploaded a photo of my dog Remy, and users would tap it repeatedly to see how many times they could pet the dog in ten seconds.

What’s next for you?
This spring, I will be student teaching to complete my MSLIS degree! I will have two student teaching placements during the spring semester, one in St. Joseph and one in Mahomet. After that I’ll graduate and hopefully find a great job!

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