By Mary Dubard, AmeriCorps Member, Comcast NBC Universal Sponsored Team,
Serving at Bakersville Elementary School
Before I even committed to City Year, I knew that if I did, I wanted to run a computer science club. Upon graduating City Year, I plan on majoring in computer science at Wellesley College, and I’m very excited that I am now able to say I’ve helped teach third through fifth graders computer science. I love being able to code and it's definitely something I wanted to share with my students. Luckily, thanks to City Year and lesson plans provided by Google, it wasn't hard to do.
There are four sessions of after-school throughout the year, and in the first session City Year AmeriCorps members were not able to run clubs because we were still getting used to the school and working in classrooms. However, I knew that as soon as the second session started, midway through November, I would start a club. I talked to Angela Palmer, the librarian at Bakersville, and she agreed to run the club with me. I started planning for my Google CS First Club, and before I knew it I was receiving the lesson plans and headphones (all provided free of charge from Google) in the mail for our first day.
It has been great to see how interested my students are in computer science! We’ve been running a Game Design camp, so after every meeting I get to go online and play some of the games they created. There's a new video lesson every week that teaches new skills and builds on to old ones. At the end of each day the students write “shout-outs” on post-its. This is a way for them to thank students and teachers who have helped them. My favorite part of every meeting is when I get to see the look on a student’s face when I give them their shout-out from another student.
Overall, this club has been an amazing opportunity for both my students and me. Personally, it has given me an opportunity to grow closer with students who aren’t in my classroom and has reinforced that computer science is the field I love. My students have loved learning a new skill, and at least in the club they're becoming much more self-reliant. They're not just learning how to code, they're learning how to solve problems on their own, and seeing that transformation brings me back every week.