Posts Tagged ‘Education’

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

I was speaking to my lovely colleague, Russ, today about taking the Stanford/Coursera online courses. Oh the fun we both had. I remember the first course I did last year, AI Advance route….. why oh why did I do that. I remember the pressure of trying to complete assignments/homework and to study the required 8-10hrs.

This and others are not designed for Teachers. We (teachers) are already overloaded and have very little time to carry out personal study. You may disagree, which is fine, but no bashing teachers as that is already done very well at present.

I am not disregarding those online courses, they are amazing and I have learnt so much from them. It is just the format does lend itself well to those of us who are teachers. The MOOC (mass online open classroom) has, in general, a very small completion rate of anywhere between 3-7%. This is not to say those courses aren’t successful but for teachers we need a different approach. This is something that I have been hoping to develop further and it looks like I will be able to do just that after the new year.

Wish me luck on this new adventure.

What and how would you like to learn online?


What a day!

This all day event took place at the Corn Exchange plus more of the Dome. A very beautiful building (if you haven’t seen it). The event was immense from tweeting with a BBC Micro & a raspberry Pi to hot air ballons! You had to be there Maker Faire Brighton. I think my favourite thing was the Dalek. 20120909-073202.jpg

Why am I writing about it, apart from being amazing, I was one of the makers! I even got to make my own badge! I was giving a beginners coding workshop using Greenfoot. Greenfoot is a 2D simulation and gaming environment to enable younger students to learn how to code Java.

This all sounds calm and relaxed, reality was quite the reverse 🙂 The night before I had gone to set up the room layout making sure that there were enough extension leads. As you can image the following morning we had one! This was compounded by the fact we had no laptops to give the workshop with…… Not getting stressed at all 😉 @DonnaComferford came with a three. We managed to borrow four more *sigh of relief*. As these weren’t the laptops we were looking for – the software wasn’t installed so an added delay but everyone was great about it. Phew the workshop can actually start.

Neil Brown from Kent University, Greenfoot Team delivered the workshop which was broadcast live via Google Air Hangouts. This was my first air hangout and thankfully we had a wired connection! The 90min workshop enabled the students to go from blank canvas to completed game. Or as we like to say Noobie to Ninja. The workshop started with a demo of Greenfoot’s capabilities, which are impressive. Even more so that it is free for everyone.

We have students from year 6 all the way through to year 13 plus a few parents. NO girls! Come on girls! Coding isn’t just for boys!

Using the Crabs and Worms scenario the students were able to create and code their own complete game which they were able to take away with them on USB sticks provided by us. A very kind donation from Neil ford from Rewired State.

As a teacher it was inspiring to see the engagement and concentration from all of the students. It was a very quiet workshop at times. The ideal lesson! After they had created their games Neil gave a demonstration of what other things are possible with Greenfoot. What do you get with four spoons, a pico board and four volunteers = Pong! Very entertaining. It was a great workshop and thank you to all the support from the Maker Faire


This is a month long festival that opened September 2nd with the most amazing interactive digital fireworks display that I have ever seen. Truly amazing experience from pixelpyros @seb-ly. Check out the # for pictures and videos of the event.



I am involved in 2 events: one of which I am running.

The first one is Mini Maker Faire Get into Coding! I will be running a Greenfoot workshop alongside Donna Pratty and the fantastic @twistedsq Aka Neil Brown from University of Kent.

The all day event is taking place inside the beautiful Corn Exchange. It is is a “hall of excitement and fun” for everyone. Makers range from tech gadgets to knitting to raspberryPi. I can’t wait for all the noise and buzz of what will be yet another amazing maker Faire.

Event number 2

Saturday 22 September 12-4pm at Lighthouse During the day there will be a series of workshops to go from noobie to pro. Already know how to code then jump right into one of the four main hacks happening on the day. Scratch animation, Mobile App Development, Websites and Greenfoot Gaming.



Welcome to Westminster briefing

Where do I start. Twitter! I was contacted via twitter by The House to see if I was interested in speaking at a policy and practice briefing relating to the “new” ICT curriculum. Well, one can’t say no to that.

There were four main speakers Prof Steve Furber, Royal Society report. An excellent talk on the current state of ICT in schools and ideas about the [insert slide image] future. It was an honour to be able to speak to him after the event. This is THE Steve Furber who was instrumental in the creation of the BBC Micro. My inner geek was extremely happy. I was too nervous to ask for a photo. Incredibly intelligent and very humble. As you can read I was a very happy bunny.

rachel ager NAACE, Karen price E-SKILLS: they both offered information regarding where they see the curriculum developing and the reasons for them. Though I was a little concerned by the term digital wisdom that is at the Heart of the Naace curriculum- what does that mean. To me it didn’t mean a lot- how could I explain that to a student or parent when I don’t really know what digital wisdom is. They were both interesting talks. [ insert slide image ]

steve milner Facebook: interesting to hear what fb has to say about the IT curriculum. He gave a very detailed talk, without a presentation, about FB being a platform and not a content provider. You, us are the content providers. The fact that there are only 300 staff.

At the end of the keynote talks there was a Q&A. This is when some of the questions seemed a little hostile regarding the representation of certain data and how people felt about that. The fact that only 35% of ICT teachers have a subject related degree seems to upset a lot of people. I am in the other 75%. As my friend put it, if they do have a computer science degree it is unlikely that they willbe wanting to be a teacher it is more likely that they want to work for google or face book. I totally agree.

I was speaking alongside another TeacherMark Dorling from the Digital schoolhouse project (insert link) Mark spoke about the changes that are happening because of gove’s speech at BETT. He does a lot work enabling computer science to be embedded in the curriculum.

I am self taught and continue to learn new skills and languages. We IT (ICT) teachers have a fantastic subject area to continue our own learning as well as (hopefully) inspire the young. It is hardwork and we are rewriting schemes of work every term, or it feels like that sometimes. But that is why I enjoy the subject so much.

I digress. My turn. I was the last speaker of the day. For those of you who have the unfortunate experience of me at teach meet Brighton, my timings were better. I was very good and didn’t speak for more that my allotted 15mins. Mainly because everyone looked exhausted and wanted to get home.

The theme of my talk was about sharing, yes I know I go on about sharing but it is the best way to succeed. The creative global classroom was the title of my talk. I spoke about the successful use of google hangouts in teaching and sharing practice with schools around the UK. Tools like socrative for recording assessment and adding a bit of competition into the classroom. Finally, about the projects I am working on why I do them. I didn’t even list allthe extra work that I do… It looked too much on one slide.