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DPIE Afterschool Class in Dublin Proves Coding is Not Just for Kiddies
Students learn computer programming basics and beyond in “Kiddie Coding” at Dublin Elementary School. The DPIE Afterschool course taught by Mr. Osicki serves as an introduction to computer science. It also provides students with a fun and safe environment – regardless of experience level.
If one were to conduct a simple search for “Coding for Beginners” there is a wealth of solutions found through online tools, books and hands-on classes. While the search may yield many answers, it might be a challenge to identify an opportunity that includes online learning combined with in-class support. Due to a successful collaboration between Dublin Elementary School teacher Karl Osicki and the Dublin Partners in Education (DPIE), a mutually beneficial concept has been formed.
In the current Winter Session of the DPIE Afterschool program, Mr. Osicki has been teaching a once per week course called “Kiddie Coding” in his Dublin Elementary classroom on Thursdays. If you were to drop in to observe over the next five weeks, you would discover 17 highly motivated and creative students that have moved beyond the rudiments of simple coding and into far more sophisticated programs. This has all occurred for classmates that possess varying levels of experience when it comes to coding. However, as the course description implies, this program offers a fun and safe environment – regardless of experience level.
DPIE reached out to the course instructor, Mr. Karl Osicki to gain his observations. Karl states that he has recently moved from the financial world. He further claims that he has found his “true calling” in education. He currently teaches the first grade.
DPIE: The course description denotes that coding is the “universal language of the planet.” What exactly do you mean by that?
Karl Osicki: “Coding is universal because it is not limited to software engineers and programmers. People of all backgrounds and age groups now have access to learning coding through a myriad of programs. Share.america.gov defines coding as the “language of solving problems.”
Mr. Osicki teaches students the basics of computer language and programming. His students will later apply what they learned to solve problems.
DPIE: The Kiddie Coding course is meant for all skill levels – whether they’ve coded before or not. What is your global goal for all of your students? What level of mastery are you trying to achieve?
Osicki: “My global goal for my students would be to leave my class more prepared for the global market place. Coding offers opportunities to collaborate with peers, explore one’s own creativity and use reasoning while solving unique problems. Students as young as four can code, which I find amazing!”
DPIE: Your “go to” platform for the course is scratch.mit.edu. How did you find this site and why is it the most effective tool for your class?
Osicki: “I was looking for a free platform to use and came upon Scratch.mit.edu. It is provided from the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. I believe it is the most effective tool because it allows students to learn through exploration and inquiry. With Scratch, they don’t just play someone else’s game. They create their own using their own creativity and engineering.”
A student animates graphics with code using Scratch, a Free-Open Source visual programming application by MIT.
DPIE: Learning is always a two-way street. What have your students taught you about coding?
Osicki: “My students have taught me the power of inquiry learning. When you put a question or a challenge out to students they are more motivated to explore their own learning. Students typically find several surprising solutions on their own without having had one answer spoon fed to them. As a teacher of future problem solvers I believe this is a powerful tool for them to gain confidence in so that one day they could possibly solve some important global issues at hand now.”
Another student works with her friend to complete their assignment. Together, as young computer scientists, they solve the problem.
And as we witnessed, the future is indeed now. DPIE would like to thank Mr. Osicki for the invitation into his classroom. More importantly, we want to acknowledge the excitement that he has stimulated for these 1-3 graders at Dublin Elementary. We are confident that these students are well on their way towards creating fun and practical solutions that will benefit us all.
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