Friday, April 18, 2008

Simple HTML Coding in Middle School

WARNING: There is something wacky going on with the fonts in this post. I'm trying to fix it, but having a rough go. Please [bare] bear with me until this post gets straightened out.

I've been making simple web pages with the middle school students for the past several years. Is it going to become the
BASIC computer lessons of the 1980's and 90's?

The Evolution
My second year at the school, I began creating web pages using simple HTML commands with the eighth grade. The HTML Tutorial at W3schools has always been a useful resource. I used the basic ASCII editor that came with Mac OS 9. I can't remember the name of it. We learned how to use the simplest commands: html, head, title, body, h1-h5, b, i, p, displaying a simple image, creating a simple link and that's about it.

I don't even have samples any more due to changes in the email system at work.

The following year, I did the same simple project with the seventh and eighth grade.

Stretching the Project
By last year, I had the sixth and seventh using TextWrangler and the eighth using NVU. Again, simple projects that included links, tiled backgrounds, bullet lists, and other harder to code items. We had been using Kid Pix to create backgrounds and supporting images.

I am still waiting to figure out how to access the web space our organization has, and will probably be able to upload samples for the last two years to show the evolution of the work. It really was nice considering it is work completed in middle school.

The Current Year
We've been working again in the sixth and eighth grade. As we work, I'm coming to think about what we're learning and the value it adds to the student's education. So far, to me, it still makes sense to learn a little HTML.

  • I find HTML useful when I want to modify embed codes from other web sites.
  • It is useful to pass on a basic understanding of the importance of keeping images small when you have storage considerations online.
  • It takes a little mystery out of URLs that contain %20%
  • They are now getting more practice using The Gimp for image creation. I've switched from Kid Pix this year to better control image size.
  • It builds logic in comparing the output of a web page with the input from the HTML.
  • Just now, I've had to edit the HTML of this web page when the fonts went crazy.
Are There More?
I think there are more reasons to continue to learn a little about coding HTML. My eighth graders usually feel it is one of the less interesting lessons. I think there is an awful lot to keep track of: HTML files, file names, JPG images, image names, and folders. As long as I can figure out how to get access to web storage space, I will continue to teach simple HTML coding into the foreseeable future. At one point, I thought about adding CSS to the program, but now that we have wikis and blogs, it seems less important.

Any thoughts you'd like to share?

Image Credit:
Hsuing, Ernie. "proof that i was a nerd since young." 2005 April 15. 2008 April 18.


  1. Sorry, just can't resist. Good thing this is a virtual world as your readers "bare" with you. With 5 inches of fresh snow outside today it's a little too chilly but I will bear with it and hopefully the sun will bring warmer temperatures later in the day. Thanks for the smile!

  2. Keep your clothes on! :-) Fixing the typo now.