Cjbruce, thank you for sharing your thought!
I'm also a HS teacher, teaching computing and mathematics. I work in Australia and we are currently moving to a national curriculum. Computing will become digital technologies with a much greater focus on computer science topics and away with boring ICT (how to use Word, Excel).
I didn't go with Construct 2 right away, initially I used Game Maker in one of my teaching practicals. When I started teaching I wanted to use it more but it simply wouldn't work with our network. I also found the support very unhelpful and I gave after after playing email ping-pong without a resolution.
Looking for alternatives I came across construct classic at first, having looked at game salad and other products. I believe Construct 2 was still beta, but what made me switch was the ability to upload products online and the possibility (I haven't done this yet) of exporting to portable devices.
Construct 2 has a lot of potential, but I recommend that students have previous exposure with Scratch or Microsoft Windows LOGO. I have taught a few classes and it does get better each time.
I highly recommend you spend some time on teaching students setting up Construct 2, arranging the tools, turning them on and off. The concept of first selecting an object in the project bar to access the properties in the properties bar takes a while for young students to grasp.
Students find the concept of behaviours very easy to learn. The properties of each behaviour are great for doing investigations and experimentation activities. There are plenty of technical aspects you can link to Construct 2 like talking about pixel, resolution, layers, objects that have properties. So Construct can be used to deliver Computer Science topics in a more engaging way.
I am still tweaking my delivery methods. For a while I made video tutorials using bandicam. This works extremely well, especially if you have a highly mixed ability group. It allows students to work at their own pace and mostly independently, giving you more time to support weaker students.
My first assessments consisted of a game they had to build based on a video tutorial. The main outcome was that students could follow clear instructions and documentation and ensure that sprites are names, resolutions are correct and all of that. One point for each little detail.
Then there was a theory part with questions about topics such as pixel, resolution, layer, event, action...
And finally they had to modify the project to probe for understanding rather than just being able to follow the video.
Myself I am the top down learner and like to know all the features, options and settings before I build something. My students are the opposite and they find it much more engaging to start straight off with a simple project (square sprite and making it move via the 8-direction behaviour). THEN I teach them the "boring, but important stuff" because they see what it is for.
The event sheet is not the easiest concept for students to understand and does require plenty of activities to grasp. I create activities around bloom's taxonomy. For example show them an event and action and they need to identify what is the event and what the action. Could you substitute the event? E.g. a mouse click could be a keyboard press or something getting shot. Slowly making it harder with little challenges (you can pre-build a scenario) that students need to complete. The list of events and actions can be overwhelming, so begin with giving students a limited option to choose from and then slowly adding more.
I must admit though that the event sheet is not easy to use. Creating a loop for example that repeats itself 50 times to create 50 randomly placed objects isn?t very intuitive to create. Not saying that C2 event sheet doesn?t make sense, but in the context of a school it is very different to a repeat loop in Scratch or Python. I remember in Game Maker for example you would create an enemy and then program the behaviour of that enemy inside that object. In C2 you do the behaviours for all your enemies in the event sheet and this can also become quite complex. And at that development level students rely a lot on patters, shapes and similarities between things they have learned and are learning.
So all in all I believe C2 is a fantastic resource and the pricing is very good as well. You can likely get away with using the free version just fine as well. Complex projects however quickly become a little confusing for students as the event sheet has its challenges and isn?t that intuitive to read as compared to Scratch.