Awesome

I’ve just found Fake Grimlock.

The idea of ‘Just Be Awesome” kind of appeals but there are some serious ideas under a fun persona.  Not quite sure where this is going yet but I’ll be finding out more for sure

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Website

Fake grimlock on Youtube

So … how do you teach kids to code?

(I hate sentences that start with SO)

I’ve looked at a lot of tutorial sites that basically look and fee the same – boring.  I really enjoy fiddling with code and would consider myself a bit ‘techy’, my thoughts are that if I find the site boring then what would the average ‘non techy’ think?

Meet RoboBob.

 

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This introductory video from Treehouse is the first that I’ve seen that deals with some concepts in a fun (ish) way – it certainly made me chuckle.

What do you think?

Treehouse ‘Introducing programming’ page

New GCSEs

We need to know how well pupils are progressing in their education, we also need to know (from time to time) what point they have reached, so some form of assessment is important but it’s also right to remember that assessment IS NOT the goal.

If education is a journey without an end then assessment is just trying to say ”where have you got to”.  Surely a key part of the journey is also the awareness that you don’t have to follow somebody else’s route and walk in the same way they did?

The new GCSE reforms based on a single test, taking no account of any other evidence is not just flawed it is simply wrong.

Manchester United lost to Norwich last season, nobody is suggesting that this result is particularly significant I think.  Michael Gove got his exam reforms wrong first time (with the eBac) and he gets a second go.

Of course the ‘test’ could be a flexible and adaptable system built on the very latest research and requiring extremely sophisticated reviewing and marking …. but we know that it’s more likely to be a series of questions with single answers that can be easily marked and standardised.

Remember Watson?  The IBM machine that does this on a world beating scale, that IBM believe will be available in a hand size machine within 20 years?

If you are interested in developing your thinking about this then have a quick read of this short article from Professor Mick Walters (ex Director of QCA).

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So it all boils down to this

Lessons in Leadership

Whether you are a classroom teacher, a middle manager of a school leader you will have a leadership role, so how much thought do you give to your style of leadership?

This light hearted article on the leadership of James T Kirk make an easy ready but makes some sensible points.

    1. Keep exploring and learning.
    2. Ensure that we encourage creativity and innovation by listening to the advice of people with vastly different opinions.
    3. Occasionally get down in the trenches with the members of our teams so we understand their needs and earn their trust and loyalty.
    4. Understand the psychology of others
    5. Radically change course when circumstances dictate.

It’s easy to dismiss these but there is some useful stuff there if you are ready to think about the first point.

Article

Expect constant change

Both Adobe and Microsoft are moving to a pattern of constant updates.

The new ‘improvements’ to Windows 8 (codenamed Windows Blue) will the the first edition that will undergo constant modifications.

Adobe will be moving away from it’s ‘Creative Suite’ and concentrating on offering it’s apps (for rent) in the cloud.

For schools then this means that every time you start up the software you could expect some small change so the step by step guide might have a shorter lifespan than normal. 

The other issue (of course) is cost. Whilst many might actually prefer a rental model as the costs are more consistent (I believe most schools use the ESS agreement for example) it does mean that you can no longer delay upgrading a while longer to save money.

Microsoft Blue

Adobe CS

When was the last time you discussed the news?

Most days I listen to the news and most days I hear a story that is almost pure ICT (ie not centred on ‘coding’ but of real interest none the less).  Id estimate that I hear about 5 powerful stories a week.

Wouldn’t it be a great start to a lesson to just open with ‘todays news’?

The story in the Telegraph today (7th April 2013) was a really shocking one – the use of a 3D printer to make a gun that worked yet avoided all metal detectors.  I imagine that many schools would find this a difficult topic and it would definitely be necessary to handle this sensitively but it could really spark a debate about a huge variety of issues that really matter.

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One to One is doomed?

Most discussion about the takeup of individual computing devices that I get involved with quickly becomes about apple vs PC or iOS vs Android.  Sometimes we spin off in the direction of better infrastructure or maybe even about physical problems (labs or not, charging etc)

It’s seldom that I talk to anyone about what really matters – changing the way that pupils learn.

Focussing on the technology is (IMHO) doomed because there will always be a different piece of kit tomorrow (same applies to teaching ‘software skills’).  It was just over 3 years ago that the iPad was launched, until then we didn’t know we needed one.

This interesting short article from Alan November sums up some of the key concerns about technology in Education.  It’ll take just a minute to read.

I’m keen to say that OF COURSE you need to teach how to do things – we teach the mechanics or writing so that pupils can communicate – the physical act of writing is never an end in itself.  To continue this analogy – much of the time we’re not worried about which device is used, pencil, pen or chalk.

Unless the school leadership has a clear focus on where they want to take teaching and learning any technology driven program will not return the investment.

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The Draft National Curriculum

There has been so much nonsense spoken about the National Curriculum over the past few years that it hard to know where to start to comment but the current draft proposal is so wide of the target that it probably tops the lot.

It isn’t that I disagree particularly with anything that is in the document it more about what isn’t in it. 

I’ve spoken to many people about this and the most positive comment is “just ignore it”, nobody (not one person) has said that it is (anything like) suitable for purpose at it stands.   Part of me cries out that the National Curriculum is probably redundant now in any case so there is no point in getting too excited and part of me wonders why anyone would go to such lengths to create something that is so strongly disapproved of.

If you’ve not seen it yet then here it is.

You can check that you have the right document by looking for:

  • Key Stage 1
    Pupils should be taught to:  Understand what algorithms are

(yep – KS1 – 5 years old)

The document is currently in it’s final consultation stage.  There is an online form for uploading a document in Word format.  Submissions have to be complete by 16th April.

DfE Submission form

There is also a template Word Document hat can be used:

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/doc/n/responseform.doc

Memorizing for exams is Important?

Education Secretary Michael Gove is giving a talk to the Independent Academies Association in which he will argue that:

  • Memorisation is a necessary precondition of understanding
  • Only when facts and concepts are committed securely to the working memory, so that it is no effort to recall them and no effort is required to work things out from first principles, do we really have a secure hold on knowledge.
  • Memorising scales, or times tables, or verse, <allows us to> display greater creativity.

More details of the speech can be found here

We already know that he has plans to replace GCSEs with ‘O Levels’, three hour terminal exam with set percentage pass boundaries. Article

All in all it looks like a big change on the way for education – that’ll make a change then!

ICT in Schools, development so far

I guess that everyone is aware that the place of ICT in the curriculum is under heavy discussion, certainly there is nothing concrete yet but we are getting a general feel for the way things are going.

The British Computer Society are certainalu going to be playing a key role on the final outcome as they have been formally asked by the DfE to coordinate responses and develop a draft PoS for KS1 to 4, we are expecting a draft of this by October 23rd (yes – this year).  This will go for public consultation early in 2013 (bett?).  Simon Peyton from CAS has chaired a recent meeting (19th Sept) of interested parties and clearly the strong emphasis on ‘computing’ is being promoted.

The confusion over terms (such as Computing, Digital Literacy and Computer Science) is being addressed and there could be a consensus emerging about a different approach:

  • Fundamentals
  • Applications
  • Implications

There are a few more details on the EdFutures website (but not much more)

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