I have owned a Raspberry PI (RPi) for almost 12 months and must admit that when I first picked it up alongside an Aruduino I was thinking why would I want to run this? The graphics looked awful, it was slow and I was more limited by software that I was on my home machine and school network. However, I’m in the process of being converted and over the last couple of weeks have seen how the RPi does have a place in my classroom.
Another work in progress post but thinking about ideas, beyond the obvious, for differentiating in IT/Computing lessons.
1) Differentiation By Outcome
The old classic and now a major no-no in the eyes of Ofsted as judging students by the quality of their work is no longer appropriate. However, you can give the lazy method a new twist by using:
2) Differentiation By Task
Where students are given different task to complete. At a literacy level this might be asking Level 4 (L4) students to state 4 types of something while L5 are asked to describe with L6 being asked to compare and so on. However, sometimes all students need to achieve the same goal in order to be able to progress so we can use:
3) Differentiation By Resource
Where students undertake the same task but with different supporting resources or worksheets. Challenge L6 students to independently achieve a task while providing L4 students with a walk-though guide. L5 may be allowed to choose to use the guide or not. It’s not wrong to give students the choice – a L6 Maths student will have different strengths to a L6 Art student and in a topic like ICT its only appropriate that sometimes they choose. So another alternative is:
4) Differentiation By Communication
Lucky enough to have a supply of iPads in school then these are perfect for this method. Students who have greater difficulty writing than others may prefer to record themselves talking. iPads are perfect for recording a student talking about their work.
So according to BBC News (4th Feb 2013) Computer Science will be included as one of the sciences counted towards the English Baccalaureate for secondary school league tables from January 2014 other sciences. This is fantastic news and should not be confused with today’s announcement that GCSEs will be replaced by an EBAC certificate. But what does it mean for those schools already teaching GCSE Computing – are these included? Does the course title have to be GCSE Computer Science?
So I’m thinking that my next move will be for a head of department role. I’ve done 6 years as 2nd in command with KS4/5 responsibilities at two different schools so it is the logical step. I would probably admit I’ve been a bit slow of the mark but it hasn’t seemed important until now. I’m not a big fan of winging it and I think some people are so keen to progress, gain promotion and increased salary that they take on roles hoping they can cope – I’d rather only take on a role when I feel 110% ready, knowing that I won’t let anyone above or below me down. So what do I feel are the key duties and responsibilities of a department leader. This will be a work in progress post so may not be complete from day one but it’s a good format to record my ideas.
So most people in teaching or with a child in school will be familiar with the concept of a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) but what about a virtual world? Collaborative learning in a virtual environment has its proponents. It has been used successfully to teach ‘good’ behaviour in primary schools and with socially immature teenagers but can it be used beyond this. We have recently explored the possibility of using Minecraft in our school for this purpose but I don’t feel it is really fit for purpose so decided to spend some time looking at other possibilities.
This evening I headed up an ‘Effective Use Of ICT’ inset session for teachers at our school. I tried to enthuse the idea that IT for all its quirks and frustrations for the novice and expert alike is an amazing and powerful tool. Sometime it is just a case of PEBKAC (Problem exists between keyboard and chair) and sometimes, like a car, the computer does just breakdown.
On the upside computers have made it possible to achieve things otherwise considered unachievable. They allow us to bring fun and interest to topics that feel dull and uninteresting in other ways. They are, despite some problems, absolutely AWESOME and hopefully this will give you a little insight into why.
There are many free pieces of software and cool online tools that can work in the classroom. I try and keep a reasonable collection on my teaching website at http://compu2learn.co.uk – check them out!
Below the fold are some of the ideas I shared in my order of preference.
So OFSTED’s Sir Michael Wilshaw has yet again upset the hardworking majority within the profession by accusing us all of being lazy and suggesting we should work harder. As you would imagine many vocal teachers are up in arms and shouting about how hard done they are. No surprise the public responds in force reminding us about how long our holidays are.
As someone who experienced seven years of industry (working 80+ hour weeks and weekends) prior to university and then teaching. Who did seven years teaching before taking a two year part time sabbatical so I could work as a free-lance website designer before returning as a full time teacher I think I am qualified to comment.
Teaching is like every other profession out there in that you have a small number who don’t work very hard. In my experience many of those are career teachers who are so worn out and institutionalised that they have lost all motivation and imagination for teaching. Likewise, I have met a number of teachers who, like any workaholic, don’t know when to stop and say enough is enough. Thankfully, the majority are hardworking professionals who balance work with life and family, and sometimes that might mean they leave the school gates at 3pm.
As a personal example I prefer to have an early day, arriving in school at 7 before working through break and lunch to leave early around 3:30/4. My typical day doesn’t stop there and I’ll probably do an hour or so later in the evening often answering emails to staff and students past 10o’clock. Yes, students – all my students have my school email (which is, by the way, delivered to my iPhone – that I pay for) so I can support them during waking hours seven days a week. Weekends come and go and I guess over a month I probably do work eight hours per weekend.
How about those long holidays? Well many are absorbed into planning, marking or providing additional catch up sessions for students. I think in all the years I have been teaching I have only ever managed four weeks holiday a year – and even then I’ll still have my laptop and stay in touch with my school emails.
I don’t suppose anyone would complain that over this summer holiday I spent my own money on robotics and developing my skills so I could bring new ideas to the classroom? A performance related bonus at the end of the year would have made that investment easier – oh, yeah – teachers don’t get bonuses or overtime.
So if teaching is that bad why don’t I go back to the corporate world. Well, to be honest – teaching isn’t that bad. Sure it’s tough and some schools are harder than others but it’s what you make it. The corporate world is tough with everyone pushing margins and redundancies being a more popular occurrence. Belligerent bosses who demand impossible things over ridiculous timescales. Teachers should quit moaning and just get on with their jobs. If you want to protest then work to rule. Likewise, Parents should quit worrying about what I do in my job, look at their work life balance and start taking a role in the education of their children.
And finally, to anyone out there who wants to tell me Teachers have it easy – come and spend a day with me and then tell me it’s easy. I’m alway looking for vocational opportunities so you’d be very welcome to lead a session or two. Unless, of course, you feel under the weather, in which case don’t bother because in teaching there is no where to hide.
Influenced by @MissKMcD I have created a collection of KeepCalmCarryOn posters which may find themselves on the wall of my classroom next year.
My first introduction to the Arduino was at the CAS Programming for teachers event this year at UWE Bristol. We had a choice between Lego Mindstorm and the Arduino.
As an educator and developer I am always looking for new and exciting ways to introduce programming at school. Greenfoot is an excellent tool for simple game development and teaching the basics but what is the next step in terms of games development and expanding a students programming knowledge and experience.
Not to be confused with ICT Literacy this is about how we support the learning of Maths and English within ICT. Literacy and Numeracy are essentials to living and without them a person is severely hampered. In the modern world we would probably add ICT to that - the ability to operating a technical and/or computerised machine but this is about words and numbers.
You only see them for 5 minutes every morning, 15 minutes every afternoon and they probably resent you for all the notices you dish out however you are probably one of the most important people in your tutees school life and when you aren’t there they will miss you.
- Positive Role Model.
- First contact for student and their parents.
- Adult the student knows well.
- Academic Mentor and advisor.
- Challenger – challenge and stretch them to achieve.
- Caring, sympathetic and supportive listener
- A team-(mate) within the tutor-group rather like the captain of a football team. You maybe a leader but you are still part of a team.