Help! Looking at HTML/CSS/JS, 15 Years Later


Sublime Text editor

How would you teach html/css/js to students from grades 7 to 12 so they can create websites? Asking for a friend. Oh, and this friend tells me they meet for about two hours a week.

I was a webmaster before becoming a teacher. I ran a corporate website, organized early electronic marketing, and even set up webinars for my employer — from 1996 to 2004. Does that qualify me to teach a club of girls how to code for the web? Only a little, I’m learning. I don’t have to tell most of you that the web was a vastly different place 15 years ago than it is now. I’m working with a club leader, another teacher with similarly rusty html and strong google skills. Our base knowledge is so ancient, we’ve lost count of the depreciated tags we’ve run into.

Introduction: A First Web Page

I love to let kids dive in on new technology, so here’s how I structured a one-hour lesson on writing web pages:

  • grab a good text editor: I’ve been using Sublime Text for Mac
  • start with these four tags: paragraphs, links, headings, images
  • learn a tiny bit of style notation: colors and fonts
  • be ready to show whatever your club asks to learn — W3Schools has had an open browser tab on my computer all semester
  • practice! make the world’s tackiest web page — sure it’ll look like MySpace or Livejournal but don’t worry, these kids don’t remember those days

Kids were super-excited about what they’ve learned. The younger ones are mostly interested in background colors, text colors, and fonts. We’ve played with these ideas for a few weeks and I think they’re almost ready to understand the value of separating content from presentation with css.

Next Level: Bootstrap, Templates, and Editors?

So this brings me to the weekend. We’re ready to take the girls to the next level. We figure that means finding some web space, teaching them about ftp and designing off of a web template.

Apparently Bootstrap is the “most popular HTML, CSS, and JS framework for developing responsive, mobile first projects on the web.” Sold. Well, it’s free, so does it even make sense to say “sold”? Anyhow, there are even free templates that use Bootstrap over at Start Bootstrap. I downloaded the Business Casual theme and started making a personal project website to practice.

Are there other frameworks I should look at before showing Bootstrap to the girls?


  1. Where do you go for basic web hosting? I’m looking for ftp access and NOT a wysiwyg-only interface.
  2. Who online is doing the best job teaching html & css? Looking for inspiration. We’ve used codecademy’s lessons but want to stay away from “welcome to club, now go follow a tutorial on your own” for now.
  3. Got any industry-standard tools I need to be showing the girls?
  4. Are you a woman who codes, especially for the web? Want to be a guest at a meeting?

4 thoughts on “Help! Looking at HTML/CSS/JS, 15 Years Later

  1. For basic hosting, I’d take a strong look at Github Pages, it’s free, and it will introduce students Github, which is a fantastic tool that they will need to share code and their work if they are going to continue with web developement or CS. One word of advice-if you do work with github, I’d strongly encourage you to use the github desktop app for doing all of the uploads to github pages–it’s a total PITA to work with github on the command line.

  2. Hi Megan. I’m trying to get a hold of Girls Who Code curric. So far I’ve applied to be club sponsor, then applied to be club affiliation, took (and passed) and quiz on coding. Next up is answer background questionnaire. Oh and I uploaded my tchg cert. really hoping it’s worth all of this!
    Designed for clubs apparently. Free.

    • Stick with it. GWC is slow, I suspect partly because they’ve grown immensely in the last year. It took forever for background checking for the official GWC sponsor on my campus — months, even. I’d say from my own experience that the biggest benefit of GWC is the trained facilitator you get assigned who comes in from industry.

      We moved away from the GWC curriculum and are only now coming back to it, because it’s hard in a club setting to teach coding to a diverse range of ages, interest levels, and prior knowledge levels. I absolutely hate putting the girls on tutorials when we’re together, but it’s been the most effective way to learn.

Comments are closed.