Pinegreen spent a day working at Fir Vale School in Sheffield, teaching a class of year 8s the basics of web design & content management.
Building static sites
We spent the morning teaching the core principles of the web and how to build basic static websites. We started off with the basics; how the web works with HTML pages, communicating via HTTP and addressed at URL’s. We then talked about the history of the web and its current state today; how it was intended for everyone to contribute and that although it’s OK to use services such as Google & Facebook, it’s also great to use the web as a platform for creation and innovation.
After this we handed out workbooks for the students to complete for the rest of the morning. This involved setting up and getting used to the development environment, creating markup in HTML and then styling pages with CSS. Each student chose a topic of interest and then added their content in so each site had a theme. The workbooks we created gave the students the chance to experiment with different colour pallets, layouts and fonts and it was great to see at the end of the session 10 very different looking websites!
In the afternoon we explained that although it’s essential to learn the basics of HTML + CSS, creating static pages nowadays isn’t really the most efficient way of creating or managing a website! We also talked about how the internet has scaled to accommodate billions of people, describing DNS and how ISP’s work together.
The workbook for the afternoon focussed on creating a website ‘live on the internet’ and setting up a content management system (we chose to use WordPress). We also felt it was necessary to show how to set up the environment so we went through the steps of creating a database on an account on our server and installed WordPress to it.
Unfortunately we ran out of time before they had a chance to properly use WordPress for theme development but the whole class were comfortable using the software by 3pm.
A great experience
As this was very different to anything they had done before we’re really pleased with how well the group applied themselves to the tasks we set them throughout the day. After all, they could have spent the day messing around; we’re not actually qualified teachers and didn’t have the authority to ‘tell them off’! After a small amount of initial apprehension, we really enjoyed the day and would teach again in the future.