Monthly Archives: February 2010

Leading Learning & Teaching⤴

from

Currently reading Wasted:Why Education Isn’t Educating by Frank Furedi for my current module. We have been set the task of looking at What do young people need to know or be able to do to cope with the demands of a challenging future? Is CfE the answer?

Both The Scotsman and The Sunday Herald carried articles this weekend reporting that teachers are calling for a further one year postponement to implemeting CfE until assessment is sorted out. I feel that we have been given the new curriculum and we should just get on with it. As teachers we expect pupils to be flexible and to adapt to new situations, in this case many teachers need to start doing the same and embrace the new curriculum and and use their innovative skills to make Scottish Education the best in the world again!

I would welcome any comments or opinions from colleagues on Curriculum for Excellence as part of my master’s research.

Exploring Leadership module⤴

from

I finally found out this morning that I passed the module and got what I think is a reasonable mark for my essay.

I have started reading for the next module – Leading Learning & Teaching and looking at a text by Frank Coffield – All You Ever Wanted to Know About Learning and Teaching. This was primarily written for FE students but it highlights and raises many relevant issues which teachers and lecturers should also be aware of.

Coffield talks about 3 kinds of learning; surface, deep and strategic learning. For the last module I was definitely a surface learner; I did what was required to achieve the pass. As Coffield points out, we all go through these 3 types of learning at different times, depending on priorities, relevance and interest. We do not stick to one type of learning.

computer games in my class⤴

from

Here’s an update of how I’ve been using computer games and games programming in my class.

In the 2008-2009 session I piloted an S1 enrichment course on games design. Pupils choose in primary seven from three strands: Technologies, Health and Wellbeing or Creative Arts. I got one quarter of the time with the Technologies pupils to show them games design.

We worked with a program called Neverwinter Nights that was generously supplied by LTScotland and the Consolarium. In the May before I’d been lucky enough to go on the training course LTS had set up to kick-start games based learning. I learned a lot about NWN and met lots of great teachers who (at least from the last I’d heard) are doing great things with games. More that that here

Anyway, as pilots go, I think it was a success. One of the champions of games based learning (and NWN in particular) is Judy Robertson who had good things to say about the pilot. The pupils that took the course are now in S3 and some are in my Standard Grade classes and have mentioned NWN several times (usually when I’m trying to get them to do boring SQA-related practical tasks).

I’m not using NWN at present because the following year the game was installed in a room which was subsequently timetabled away from my use when I had S1. We also had less teachers on rotation meaning longer sessions with pupils, so I diversified my input, looking at games, magazine making, radio stations, videos and photo editing. For gaming I used Scratch and worked on basic movement and graphics skills.

This year I’ve not been given any S1 classes on my timetable so no games for them!

As a computing teacher, I’m drawn more to Scratch than any other games programming tool out there. It certainly has significant drawbacks in terms of the graphics that can be used (the resolution of the games is maybe 360 pixels squared or something like that) and due to the fact that there’s no way to do 3D games. I like Scratch despite this because the programming interface is so well designed, and, because I’m teaching programming as well as games design, I like how pupils can’t avoid learning logic and structure.  The lowest level of detail in scratch is that of each sprite. But text and graphic control and manipulation at that level is similar to the text input and output used in SG and Higher coursework.

So the mission with Scratch from here is to develop it as a way to introduce programming, as well as just make games. I’m planning to write units for S3 that show pupils how to use all the concepts they must know for SG Computing in Scratch, and I’m also planning for them to hand in their final coursework programmed in Scratch.

I have mentioned this elsewhere and there is discussion of it in our local authority too. While I understand people would have reservations about ‘dumbing down’ programming, I think that’s missing the point. Programming is not an exercise in falling over mistakes in grammar, spelling and syntax, it’s an exercise in logic, problem solving and analysis. I’d like pupils to be able to achieve up to Credit level in Scratch, and then supply a ‘conversion course’ to let pupils learn a language like TrueBASIC. This means the scratch course can be in no way superficial – pupils must understand exactly what they are doing.

So the plan for Scratch is to use it from primary 6 to S1. We start wit P6 visits and show them how to control a character. Then P7 visits do some imaginative thinking and design characters which they then control, and for those getting ahead, collect objects for points.

In S1 (if it’s available) pupils will learn a set of core game design principles like movement, object collection, points, health, collision detection etc. Then they can chose out of nine game types (platform, top down racing, aiming and shooting, maze etc) to focus on, and could work on three or four over the time they have.

In S2 there would be a portion of the year looking at games design. Those pupils that came to us in S1 would be given a mixture of advanced tasks and mentoring work.

In S3 the examples from S2 will be used to talk about input, output, structures like loops, arrays and so on. These will be assessed for understanding as concepts (I think this is important if looking at a transition to another language later on) and then used to program coursework.

Goodness, that’s a long and not particularly exciting post. But anyway,  I wonder if anyone will spot this and if so, if they can give any thoughts on the use of Scratch. I am of course interested in other uses of games, but, that’s probably enough for now for this post, and certainly will be keeping me busy this year writing new stuff for classes!

Update: now that I’ve bothered reading online again, I see there’s a Making Games in Schools project on the go, hurrah!

Next module⤴

from

The next module in my MSc course is about to start on 23rd Feb. To date, I have still to hear if I have passed the first module. I am used to having course work assessed and returned within a few weeks and most certainly before I start the next part of the course. I hope to hear soon!

The next module is called Leading Learning and Teaching and I will update the blog once i’ve begun.

return true⤴

from

trueMy last blog was on the 21st of May, 2008!

I’ve decided to come back into the online world and see if I can’t use the combined amazingness of the educational online community to help me out. I thought it might be interesting, first, to explain a bit about where I’ve been.

I’ve been teaching. And even though I’ve not been reading or writing blogs, I think I’ve got better at it. I’ve spent the last two years mainly working on developing materials to give pupils what they need: ways to check what they know, content to help them find answers, different forms of assessment, both computer and paper based, and built in self-assessment. Simple stuff that I was doing in a more haphazard fashion before I redesigned our resources.

It’s taken lots of work, and even though the new material aren’t amazingly exciting or interactive, I’m proud of them, because I think they help pupils understand and get good results.

But they aren’t radical.

What I’ve missed by opting out of what’s been going on outside my classroom is the sense that there are always new things developing, and that they are possible to grasp as an individual, innovative, empowered teacher. In the school I’m working on eight committees, run some clubs, and get involved as often as possible in the schools life. But I feel that I could do something different, outside of those responsibilities.

Teachers are currently wrapped up in the transition to CfE and some are still wrapped up in the transition to AiFL. It may seem terribly uninspired to claim that they have too much to worry about to look beyond the pile of documents to read, the pile of marking or the pile of forms from management. But sometimes, like me, the box is too full of stuff to do to think outside of it.

But I feel guilty that I’ve not tried harder, that it is something I should act on, in parallel with taking on the transition to new qualifications and ways of working. In an authority which has a lockdown on social media, and streaming video, and has still not implemented Glow, it’s more important than ever to organise myself to read the feed, and get involved. I want to take what I now feel I am doing well, and find out how other people are making that experience more exciting.

In the coming days I’ll be writing about what I do with school audio/video broadcasting, computer games and anything else that comes to mind. If you read anything I had to say before, I thank you, and hope you’ll subscribe to this blog too.

Oh, and if this is the only post up on the 16th of February, 2012, call for my resignation.

Horizon Report 2010⤴

from @ eCurriculum Blog

This is the seventh edition of this annual report and describes emerging technologies likely to have an impact on teaching & learning in Colleges and Universities in the next five years.

Horizon2010_thumbThe report describes in relatively plain English technologies which you may have heard of but not experienced and outlines with examples how they are already being used in academic institutions. Interestingly once they are broken down a bit you might be surprised just how many of them you use routinely already.

One year or less Two to Three Years Four to Five years
Mobile Computing Electronic Books Gesture Based Computing
Open Content Simple Augmented Reality Visual Data Analysis

Yes - I know what you're thinking but the report provides just a couple of pages on each - enough to whet the appetite e.g. Do you use Sat Nav? Have you needed to find out where the nearest petrol station is? Using a device that combines information based on GPS, a camera or compass could be considered as Simple Augmented Computing. Anyone get a Wii for Christmas? It's hard to think of anything that's more gesture based. And take a look at my favourite websites in the tag cloud down the right hand side of this website - the larger the text the more links in that category - an example of a new form of Visual Data Analysis.

So the report's not just for "Geeks" - and the technologies are actually here already, but the report does give some interesting insight into how they might be employed in the education business.

http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2010-Horizon-Report.pdf

Horizon Report 2010⤴

from @ eCurriculum Blog

This is the seventh edition of this annual report and describes emerging technologies likely to have an impact on teaching & learning in Colleges and Universities in the next five years.

Horizon2010_thumbThe report describes in relatively plain English technologies which you may have heard of but not experienced and outlines with examples how they are already being used in academic institutions. Interestingly once they are broken down a bit you might be surprised just how many of them you use routinely already.

One year or less Two to Three Years Four to Five years
Mobile Computing Electronic Books Gesture Based Computing
Open Content Simple Augmented Reality Visual Data Analysis

Yes - I know what you're thinking but the report provides just a couple of pages on each - enough to whet the appetite e.g. Do you use Sat Nav? Have you needed to find out where the nearest petrol station is? Using a device that combines information based on GPS, a camera or compass could be considered as Simple Augmented Computing. Anyone get a Wii for Christmas? It's hard to think of anything that's more gesture based. And take a look at my favourite websites in the tag cloud down the right hand side of this website - the larger the text the more links in that category - an example of a new form of Visual Data Analysis.

So the report's not just for "Geeks" - and the technologies are actually here already, but the report does give some interesting insight into how they might be employed in the education business.

http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2010-Horizon-Report.pdf