I was at the library of a nearby school recently (I’m looking at you Hawthorne Elementary) and came across a whole passel of girls, many of whom were English-Language-Learners, completely engrossed in computer programming.
They were members of the school’s programming club, and they were using Google’s free Computer Science Club website and materials. I talked to their teachers about the program. Two features really impressed me.
First, Google offers 9 themed clubs with related challenges so that you can target the interests of your students. These teachers recruited the girls to the club using the the “Friends” theme (which comes with very effective marketing materials, I might add). The girls worked through that material in the fall and enjoyed it so much they wanted to continue.
Second, the teachers didn’t have to know programming themselves in order to lead the club. What they needed was all on the website. When I observed, the girls were working on their own (one helpfully explained what she was doing), while the teachers worked together on their own project!
If you are looking for a way to start your students on programming, this could be a good option.