Next up!

Posted: March 19, 2013 in computing, Conference, Digital, education, teaching, technology
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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

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