Thursday, 28 February 2013

Why code in school (and how to get involved)...

Last night was the first Computing At Schools Hub meeting of 2013 in Redbridge with colleagues from Primary and Secondary schools hosted by Ilford County High School.

A very powerful video entitled “What most schools don't teach” was screened and if you are currently talking to year 9 students about their options (or indeed senior management teams about the 2013-14 timetable allocation) this video could be a very good thing to show.  Please take 5 minutes now to watch it if you can.

The CAS hub looked together at the practical differences between OCR and AQA GCSE specifications; enjoyed a demonstration of the Python programming environment and the Raspberry Pi system; reviewed a KS3 scheme based on building iPhone Apps with AppShed and heard directly from Oracle as to how they are supporting teachers in developing programming competency.

Upcoming events

The next events running in Redbridge to support teachers in bring coding into schools are two Python Programming Workshops (1st and 15th March) which are already fully booked. 

In response to a clear need expressed by Secondary schools we will be running a course entitled "KS4 Computing at speed" in which teachers who would like to be teaching Computing and Computer Science next academic year can cover the whole KS4 Computing curriculum in 3 'long Saturdays' in June and July after the KS4 and KS5 exams have started. 

Each of the 'long Saturdays' will start on Friday lunchtime and will run through to Saturday late afternoon. There will be practical and written tasks that will need to be completed between the face-to-face sessions.  Registration is not yet open as the details are still being finalised but we have already started a list of schools that have already expressed an interest.  If you would like to add your own name to this list, you will be given priority registration when the course detail is published.  Do get in touch directly to express an interest.

Key Links

The key links that were discussed at last night's CAS hub were:
  • AppShed - an environment used by Debden Park High School to run a KS3 App development scheme of work.  Apps are simulated on the website and can be submitted to the App Store if desirable.
  • Python - a simple and free text based programming environment that uses colour coding to reinforce correct syntax.  Can be installed on a Windows PC but comes pre-installed on the 'Wheezy' installation on the...
  • Raspberry Pi - a small and cheap computer system based on Linux that enables students to explore computing concepts without potentially damaging school networked PCs.
  • GCSE specifications from OCR and AQA were discussed.
  • Oracle Academy supporting teachers with developing programming skills.  Free tutorial sessions in London (based on Java) were advertised.
  • Computing at Schools website has many downloadable resources, including a complete curriculum.
  • a great resource site designed very very well to give quick access to a significant number of resources to support teachers and learners.
  • Code club - a site that provides all resources and support materials to start up a Code Club as an after school or lunchtime enrichment activity within your school.  If you have not yet done any coding before this could be a great place to start and would work with KS2 or KS3 students.
If you are at all interested in developing your Computing Curriculum - perhaps in the light of news that Computer Science can count as a Science in the eBacc measure, or even in response to the Government's draft Computing curriculum document - please get in touch and we will connect you in to the Redbridge CAS hub and we can also support you directly if appropriate - whatever key stage of education you are developing.

Politics aside, the video at the beginning of this post is a significant argument for why children should have a coding experience.  From a personal perspective coding is beguiling, wonderfully collaborative, mentally stimulating and very satisfying.  When Sir Ken Robinson talks about finding 'the Element' - the activity in which you can easily lose track of time - then coding is that activity for many many of our students.  

One of the teachers who shared at last night's CAS hub commented that many of her students went home and voluntarily kept working on their Computing projects, many inventing further projects because they were just so excited by what they were creating.

"Great coders are today's rockstars - that's it!" -
Alex Rees, @alxr1

No comments:

Post a Comment