Sharing thoughts and ideas about teaching computing in school
It was great to return to school again on Monday after a few days out at conferences. In the previous week, I was invited to speak at the Westminster Briefing in Manchester on Thursday 14th June. This event was an invited panel giving their opinions on the direction of the ICT curriculum with an audience of around 130 teachers and other interested people.
Then I was speaking in Birmingham for the Computing at School conference on Friday 15th June, where I ran a workshop on ‘Engaging your Computing Community’ featuring some of our Hack To The Future events and the impact it had. Separate blog posts to follow.
Then on Monday 18th June, we had another 8 teachers visit our school for another ‘Teach Computing’ course, our third one this year. The program was similar to the previous courses we have offered, with some variations to suit the specific needs of the course participants.
To establish what the teachers’ hopes and expectations of the day we started by finding out what these were – the most popular requests were: Engaging pupils into Computing, Schemes of Work KS3 & KS4, Python and RaspberryPi.
The day was split into 3 sessions. During session 1, I shared stories of our successes from the last 12 months or so (read more about them on the blog). This included introducing the OCR GCSE Computing course in 2011, teaching Year 7s how to program with Python, teaching Year 5 pupils to program with Scratch, our Meet The Geek session at BBC Media City on 5th March, the hackademy events we have held and concluding with a video produced by BBC Learning showcasing our Hack To The Future event on 11th Feb 2012. I wanted to place particular emphasis on my belief that the community events we have run have helped to engage pupils into computing and for future recruitment to Key Stage 4 courses. They have also engaged the support of a wider community outside our school.
After a run through of our Key Stage 3 & Key Stage 4 curriculum, I then shared a Dropbox folder with many resources, schemes of work, worksheets, books etc to equip the teachers with the resources they could use to support the introduction of computing and programming into their curriculum and community, so that they could return to school and start teaching concepts straight away.
The session after break, was predominantly about ‘hands on’ programming. We started with some games creation in Scratch, creating a racing car game in less than 10 minutes. We also spent some time planning how we could plan a computing event around this activity.
Then we swiftly moved on to some Python programming language, discussing why Python was a suitable language for teaching Computing.
Lunch was followed by more programming exercises to help our teachers get to grips with Python, looking at integers and operators. Then we invited some Year 8 pupils and some Year 10 pupils to demonstrate some games and programming of their own and there was an opportunity for teachers to question them about their thoughts and opinions.
Later during Session 3, we discovered a range of gadgets and hardware that are available to support the teaching of computing including Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, FIGnition and PicoBoards. During a PicoBoards hands-on session, teachers used Scratch to create projects such as a water controlled musical instrument, a cat that jumps when you shout, a piano that responds to touch, sound activated lights and many more. There was a consensus that the PicoBoards added an additional level of depth to Scratch programming.
Session 3 concluded with a number of discussions. The first centred around the offerings of different exam boards for computing at GCSE including OCR GCSE Computing, AQA GCSE Computing Science, and Edexcel GCSE Computing Science. There was a discussion regarding the Raspberry Pi and whether or not they had the potential to be seen as a programming tool. I encouraged participants to attend or host a RaspberryJam near them to discover more about the potential of the Raspberry Pi.
Once again, participants were very generous in their feedback. The 4 categories to rate the training include the quality of the training, the quality of the materials provided, the trainer’s knowledge of the subject and the trainer’s helpfulness. I am pleased to say that all 8 participants rated all 4 categories as ‘Outstanding’ (Grade 1) with one exception where one person gave quality of materials a 2 because “I have not had time to fully evaluate them”.
We will be offering this ‘Teach Computing’ course again next year on 27 Sept 2012, 16 Jan 2013, and 11 June 2013. Details about dates etc. are available here http://ourlearning.co.uk/teach-computing/ Download course flyer here
In addition to these, responding to requests for more Scratch and more Python focussed training; we will be offering courses titled ‘Teach Scratch’ (particularly suitable for Key Stage 2 & 3) Download course flyer here and ‘Teach Python’ (more suitable for Key Stage 3 & 4) download course flyer here. You can Contact Paula for more information or to book your place.