What is Blackbird School?

An online learning system for classrooms that teaches the fundamentals of programming to middle and high school students -- and their teachers.

What does this mean for my school?

Teachers can sign up for a 2-day training and start to teach programming.

How is this possible?

Blackbird School has made several important advances to the way programming is taught and learned.

1. Key elements necessary for understanding computer programming

The key here is that we teach just two fundamental skills.

What don’t we teach?

2. The basis for our claims

Blackbird School hired a classroom teacher, Mike Lynch, and let him use the system to learn programming. He also received some basic training in programming from the engineers on the team, and has since been active in designing the learning interface and lessons. Mike has no training as an engineer, and didn’t know anything about programming before we hired him.

Mike has been teaching and co-teaching classes, and he’s convinced that it’s possible for an interested teacher to learn programming while teaching it to students. Mike’s classes have been a remarkable success. Over the summer of 2019, he taught a class of 20 students self-selected from a small middle school (Arleta School, in Portland, OR) of about 170 students. The students all learned to make simple animated games, integrating a number of concepts including iterative (repeating) instructions, positioning text and shapes on the canvas (including coloring and otherwise adjusting the display of the shapes), conditional statements (if statements), and variables including simple objects. Some students were more precocious and learned a lot more.

During fall, 2019, Mike will be teaching and co-teaching more classes, and it looks like we’ll have our first pilot of another teacher teaching on their own.