The art of computer science.

This is the start of a project that I have been wanted to do for a long time.

This is a digital Dance piece based Computer Science theory. During practice session data will be taken from the way the dancers move. This data will be used for the display projected behind the dances.

The project will use technology found in the home. This is to show the audience what their home devices can do and that computer science is not the just domain of experts. I want to show what is possible with kit found at home. During the whole project I will be releasing data (via GitHub) so that any one can create their own digital dance.

I am really excited as this merges my two passions dance and technology. I attended dancing school when I was younger until I had my first spinal fusion. That kind of put a dampener on any dance ambitions.


The timescale for the live performance is spring 2014. I will be live broadcasting the performance. During the run up to the live performance there will be 1-2 data hack events (near xmas)for people to attend and messy around with the data that we have gathered so far.

All comments and advice most welcome.


CAScade: Online CPD from CAS Computing at School.

Today’s hangout:

The draft PoS Computing: Computing

What is an algorithm: A formula or set of steps for solving a particular problem. To be an algorithm, a set of rules must be unambiguous and have a clear halting point. ( this is one answer, there are many others. More definitions listed below in the chat room comments section.

Key points discussed:
What will each primary school delivered and how that will impact Secondary.

Dept of Education wanting to step away from levels.

Schools will be responsible for creating their own curriculum. Share resources, crowd source curriculums.

Agiles testing: testing quadrants. Using this for assessment tool. Agile Testing Quandrants

ALL subject levels are going- not just for ICT aka Computing.

E- portfolios: as assessment.
End of year TechJams/ hackdays against certain criteria

A good scratch activity that covers: logic, variables, objects, algorithm: Scratch Quiz

Open badges: Open Badges

Chat room comments from CAScade hangout on Assessment.

Miles Berry
11:33 AM


Miles Berry
11:40 AM
Here’s what we put in the guidance notes

Ben Smith
11:40 AM
how to distinguish a ks2 algorithm from a ks4 algorithm
having a clear conceptual hierarchy would help ext/diff, assessment etc.

Miles Berry
11:40 AM
An algorithm is a precise method of solving a problem. Algorithms range from the simple (such as instructions for changing a wheel on a car) to the ingenious (such as route-finding), and cover many different application areas (for example, cookery, drawing three- dimensional graphics; solving systems of constraints, such as a school timetable; understanding images; numerical simulation, and so on).

An algorithm can be expressed as a program in many different programming languages.
There may be more than one algorithm to solve a single problem, differing in their simplicity, efficiency, or generality. For example, to find a path through a maze, one (simple, slow) algorithm might be to simply walk around at random until you find the exit. Another (more complicated) one would involve remembering where had been to avoid going down the same blind alley twice. Another might be to keep you left hand on the wall and walk till you find the exit (faster, but does not work on all mazes, and so less general).

11:41 AM
A formula or set of steps for solving a particular problem. To be an algorithm, a set of rules must be unambiguous and have a clear ‘stopping point’.

Miles Berry
11:42 AM
Hmm… clear stopping point… Hmm halting problem…

Ben Smith
11:47 AM
you can do boolean algebra on mine craft


Next Up

Westminster Briefing.

The other Thursday I was invited to speak bout the content of the curriculum with a focus on Key stage 2. It might seem odd to ask an A level teacher to discuss what is happening in in primary; Not really if you know me. I do a lot of out reach with year 2.

This is what I said: (from the transcript)

Okay, you will be glad, I’ve only got four slides.

I teach software development and A-Level Computing, but I actually do lots of outreach work with Key Stage 1 and that’s at a request of a lot of the teachers in the Brighton area. So I’m just going to talk about some case studies that I’ve done in the last 18 months.

So I worked with three different primary schools working with Year 2, and again Scratch, mainly because it’s free open source, it’s easy to use. There are other ones that you can use, and these are very different infant schools with different cohorts and things like that.

So the first class was Stanford Infants, and this was mainly because my 7 year old son was coming home and his teacher said he was rubbish at ICT. Okay, I teach A-Level Computing, my husband works in IT, so does my brother and my dad, he can code and he can switch between all of our different devices quite easily, so he’s not exactly brilliant, but he’s certainly not rubbish either, and I was thinking, what are they learning in their school? Not, obviously, your school. So I thought well… and I spoke to some other schools and they said, well we’ve got a tight curriculum, like you are teaching dance, the next minute you are doing history, the next minute you are doing this, you’ve got very little time to learn to then deliver something really good. And I thought, well actually I want to go and do something, so I then went into the schools, delivered a programme of six 1 hour sessions and the teachers learnt alongside the students, and I gave them lesson plans and worksheets, so that they could have something that they could then change and do whatever they wanted with.

So we did animation, games and Lego Wedo and every single one of the teachers told me, bring in your resources that you currently use and don’t change any of the terminology. I used the word algorithm, they just explained it, we had the teacher using Makaton sign language, kids running round, being variables and things like that, and it was really fun, because I then took the stuff that I learnt from the infant class back into my Year 10 class and being silly and playing and messing around, they actually understood it a lot better, and that was quite useful for me as a teacher, it was really good to see that in terms of pedagogy.

So the questions to look at. Are they prepared for secondary school? A bit like what Ian was saying, it looks very, very programme heavy, just coding, there’s no art, there’s certainly no mention of collaboration as such, and there’s certainly no kind of creative aspect to it. One of my big things is that even in my A-Level Computing and my Software Development courses, it has to be creative, it has to have a purpose and an audience and it generally has to be a bit cool and a bit off the wall, a bit like what Miles was saying, I do lots of hacking in my lesson, I also take my students out. I did an 8 hour Unity3d Hack with a local art gallery and artist last Saturday. I didn’t really know much about Unity, we had some Unity staff there and the whole industry link. I learnt more in that 8 hours than I could have done in a whole year of doing Unity in a classroom.

So, if the Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 teachers feel confident, then that’s where the creative and the art and the collaboration will take them from being the kind of whacky teacher or the scared teacher, to actually being able to do all of those other things. But again, like everyone is saying, without the CPD they won’t be able to do that.

I offered a CPD for primary educators in November and nobody wanted to come, Programme of Study came out, I’ve now offered two which are next week, which are full, and there’s 40 teachers at each one. So you can see from the difference in the fear factor, which there shouldn’t be, but I do feel for the actual primary teachers, their curriculum content is massive compared to what I have to teach at A-Level. You know, I know I have my subjects, they are in depth but they are not broad, and that is the difference, being able to feel secure, that’s where the CPD is required.

Should there be a test? Definitely not, under any circumstances. My 7 year old comes home with so much homework I can barely cope with it, let alone having a test, and he’s a boy and summer born, so obviously he wouldn’t do very well. So there is a big issue with that.

Does the technology changes keep up with the Programme of Study? No we are in education, nothing keeps up with the technology changes. Anyone read the AQA A-Level Computing, it’s a bit backward. So, no offense to any exam boards obviously, I’m just…

So it takes a while to change, so I would say no, but you can incorporate that in just sort of maybe exposing them to the technology changes, but obviously not focusing too much on that until you are secure as a teacher.

Does it encourage? It can do, but again only if when you come up from the Key Stage 1 all the way up to Key Stage 5, that each one of those levels work together, and unfortunately, one of the things I have found, even though Brighton is quite collaborative, we don’t work across the Key Stages, so all of Key Stage 1 kind of have theirs… Yes, I’m being told to shut up as well.

So basically, that’s what I say, we need to work more collaboratively together, there needs more CPD and yes there should be online training.

And that’s me done.

Community, collaborate and creativity

Anjin 1600

Posted: February 22, 2013 in computing, Digital, education, technology
Tags: , ,


An 8 hour game jam 11-7pm Saturday 23rd February at the lighthouse in Brighton. Using artist, David Blandy‘s work.

ANJIN 1600: Episode 1 from David Blandy on Vimeo.

During the day we will be creating various parts of the story using Unity. It is a very powerful game engine used by experts and hobbyist alike. I personally use it in my grade 13 Games Design class. It allows the students to create their own game as well as improving the coding skills. We use javascript but Unity supports other scripting languages.

To bring the game to life I will be using Space for Unity which is an amazing space construction asset kit for Unity. The detail and usability are brilliant. Plus this only came available on Wednesday (3 days before the event). So not much time to play around with the asteroids, planets, nebulas plus many other features. Stefan, space for unity creator, will be online about 2pm (23/02/13)to talk about how he created Space for Unity and to give the gamers some tips.

If you are aged between 16-600 then come and join us for the game jam in Brighton. All you need is your laptop, Unity installed and £5

Lessons for Innovators was a lunchtime talk at NESTA.

If you have never been, as I hadn’t, I was impressed by their ‘cool’ offices. Obviously not of a par with Google Cool but definitely cool. The space was well designed and accented with vibrant colours. It would make a very creative learning space. AKA my classroom…. One can dream.

Anyway back to the talk: which did have a little irony in the fact they were talking about MOOCs and online learning/ teaching innovation for it to be delivered in a traditional seminar /lecture format. Not that there is anything wrong with that and it was the best possible delivery method given all factors. They could have broadcast/ live streamed the lecture? Maybe next time.

There were 2 speakers, both of whom were excellent at the lectern.

Martin Bean, Vice Chancellor of the open university and Simon Nelson CEO at future learn.

Martin was first to speak, if you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing him you must take the opportunity. He is a brilliant and witty speaker. He spoke of hover boards and 21st Century, in the media portrays that we (education in all forms)

“we are not being disruptive enough”

A very interesting thought considering the exam and content reforms that are happening. the news this morning was of Gove’s announcement to change A levels to terminal exams? memory test? Lets leave that for another post;)

Back to Martin: in his 25 very successful years in arena of education in some form or another he has developed 8 rules.

    1.Be Bold: challenge and don’t take no for answer. Look to the future and arrive their before anyone else does!
    2.Get out of the blocks: Get your idea out even if it is not perfect. Iterate/ Sprint over and over again. Adapt , change and modify to improve your idea.
    3.Collective Conscientiousness: get you team on board. Everyone needs to feel that they have a stake in the market. This is Game Changing.
    4.Bring your Governance with you: involve them early. Challenge their “No not possible” responses. Sell your idea, what are you doing and why. Excite, enthuse everyone.
    5.Deadlines: no excuses, stick to them NO matter what. Fear is a blocker, communicate but stick to your deadlines. It gives focus to all stakeholders.

What a year

I am self-professed geek and huge sci-fi fan. My teaching allows me to use sci-fi examples and technological innovations to engage and educate students.

On January 11th I was quoted in the Guardian (front page article) in reference to Michael Gove’s announcement regarding the ICT programme of study:

Genevieve Smith Nunes, an IT and business studies teacher at Dorothy Stringer high school in Brighton, also welcomed the announcement. She said: “In my own school we have developed our own programme of study anyway, because of the constraints that ICT has – but still incorporating all of the elements that are there [in the existing curriculum].

“If they scrapped ICT, then a lot of teachers might feel that their jobs are at risk – depending on how Gove presents that. That wouldn’t be a worry at my school because we’re quite forward- thinking about what students need.

“By taking away what is prescriptive, it would allow the teacher and student to develop the [computer science] curriculum together and make it effective, creative and thoughtful … If universities are going to help us develop the curriculum content that can only be a benefit from the classroom teacher’s perspective.”

I was also a panellist on the Guardian live blog talking about technology and it’s benefits as a learning and support tool. It was a great experience if not a little scary. I was blogging in the staff room in my free period trying to make sure that I didn’t have any spelling or grammar errors. Thanks go out to the staff for helping me 🙂

With the recent announcement from Michael Gove in terms of scrapping the ict programme of study. No need to panic, it is in regards to what is taught in schools and not the removing ICT from the curriculum.

from Michael Gove’s speech Children COULD be using Scratch… we have been using Scratch for a few years and I am currently piloting a project teaching Scratch to a class of Year2 students. He talks about 11 year olds using Scratch and year 2s are 6 and 7years old. Then about yr11 developing apps: I developed a SoW (13 and 14years old) scheme of work where students plan and build apps using various tools including Appshed, Applicationcraft and the Apps for Good course.

At Sussex Downs College we have kept up with the times and modified our curriculm accordingly. We now develop skills in programming using multiple development environments and language. We have decided to use open source or freeware as this enables access from home without any financial impact on parents or guardians.

Outside of College: I am working on a scratch programming project with 3 local primary schools. Delivered over 6 weeks. I taught 1 hour a week and I will also be teaching 2/6 lessons with 3 yr9 students. Each school had a different focus: Animation, Gaming and Lego WeDo. It course was a resounding success. I am looking forward to delivering training to more teachers via the CAS Master Teacher Program and Teaching Schools. These sessions will be in South East at various venues.

Events: Speaking

    Google Guardian Junior HackEvent
    TeachMeet Brighton
    CAS Conference
    Stringer Hackday
    Brighton Digital Festival
    Raspberry Jam London
    Liberal Democrat Conference: fringe event
    Google TeachFirst Conference
    RaspberryJam Xmas London

What about 2013: Even MORE exciting than 2012.
DigiMaka is a social enterprise co-founded with Justin Kirby. Hack Events, Digital Maker Leadership program for GCSE & A Level students and workshops for community and teachers to support the DigiMaka leaders.

    BETT learn Live Lab Friday 1st Feb.
    #Hackshop Computer Science Education Hackevent for Brighton & Hove Schools: 15th Feb.
    EICE Education Innovation Exhibition & Conference.
    plus many more events that are still in the planning stage.

It is going to be a great year!

I really enjoy hack events both delivering and being apart of one. This post is going to be about plans for 2013 and bringing (CS) Computer Science to all. In way where you get to make and break things. Fail and succeed all within one sprint! Making it FUN!

Learning should be FUN! Doesn’t always work out that way but I do my up most to get to FUN.

Well, what I am doing first. My fab Software Development students are designing/creating and delivering a “Game Lab” on the last day of term.Only 5 weeks, no pressure Yr12s. This is in preparation for other “hack”events that they have to plan as part of their course…added in by me 😉 The are using different software to created games that they will all compete and play against each other. They are using Scratch, Greenfoot, Unity3D and Minecraft. I also have a challenge task of the students creating a leader board that auto updates their scores….

After Xmas we planning for a Learn Live Lab #Hackshop at BETT show on Friday 1st 12-1pm “App Development 101”. Student alongside me will be delivering the session so that all attendees can build their own app in under an hour. For the workshop we will be using AppShed which is a fantastic build (and learning) environment.

Then start the bigger events. A Computer Science #hackshop with University of Brighton for local teachers and students. They will be building and creating project using Raspberry Pi, Technology Will Save us Kits, Apps for Good, AppShed, Mozilla Webmaker and MANY others. It is going to be AWESOME. I can’t wait to get all the plans finalised, it is pretty exciting. This is be live streamed using Google Air Hangouts on my pegleggen channel.

Then there is the Education Innovation Conference & exhibition in Manchester March 8-10 which closes with a massive Raspberry Jamboree.

This hackshop will link in to the Brighton Digital Festival which September 2013. I am hoping to run 1-2 events at the month-long festival. One of which will be another hackevent (maybe overnight… but we will have check the risk assessments first!).

Ramblings over… I need to sleep before teaching my lovely A Level students tomorrow.