Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Lego Education - WeDo

C@SS Conference Workshop

Lego Education - WeDo

{Live-ish capture of workshop session with only minor edits.}

WeDo Duck by DavidDMuir
WeDo Duck, a photo by DavidDMuir on Flickr
Connect, construct, contemplate, continue.

We were given six bricks and told to build a duck. Everyone made something different - creativity!

WeDo uses a couple of motors, a couple of sensors and a USB transmitter to send instructions to the kit. The programming interface is very Lego like and also provides hints on how to build the necessary models. Supporting children as the make something that comes to life is extraordinarily powerful. Engages and excites. 

Built a spinner and had a competition to see whose spinner spun the longest. Not that I'm competitive, but we won! (Nearly 28 seconds.)

The construction set we used is normally £88.99 but there was a 50% discount until end of November. Software is £59.99 for individual licence and site licence is available. 

Creating resources for the flipped classroom.

C@SS Conference Presentation

Presenter: Charlie Love (Computing teacher)

{Live-ish capture of presentation with only minor edits.}

"I like Curriculum for Excellence." -- Charlie Love
Charlie Love at C@SS.) by DavidDMuir
Charlie Love at C@SS
a photo by
DavidDMuir on Flickr.
Wanted to get away from lecturing, especially at Higher Level. How do we make pupils better learners? One way is to give feedback and some great ideas about that in Visible Learning by John Hattie. Traditional class is 5 minutes of chat about homework (which they didn't all do) followed by teacher talking at them for most of the rest of the period. Other problem is, if they struggle with homework, since they are at home, they have nobody to talk to about it. In class, they sit passively and listen to teacher. At home, when they need one-to-one support, they are on their own. 

Flipped classroom, the pupils spend time at home getting content (e.g. by watching a video) means more time in class working with individuals and groups. The way children work at home is they are in an environment that is busy with information coming from many places. Why can't schools get into that mix. Also, it helps busy learners, those involved in music, and trips, extra-curricular and ... Struggling learners can pause and rewind the teacher. There is more interaction between learner and teacher as well as between learners in the flipped classroom. Means teacher gets to know pupils much better and can be much more individualised. 

Research on flipped classrooms is emerging. For example, Clintondale High School

Arrangement documents are not about learning and teaching. They are the end point. The assessment hoops that will be jumped through at the end. Where you should start is with learning intentions, "I can..."  See primary school teachers for good examples. Once you have a good set of learning intentions, you then develop the lesson. With flipped lessons, we want to be consist and constrained to say 5 minute chunks. Charlie wrote a script so that he didn't waffle. Focus on content and clear explanations. One page of A4 is roughly 3 minutes of video. 

Take your time and go for clarity. Charlie created the audio and used that to direct the videos. Can use Audacity for free. Charlie used animation. Started with stop motion but switched to digital animation for speed. Could use presentation software or something like Camtasia or SamStudio or Smart notebook or ScreenChomp (iPad version available) 

The video is the easy bit. How do you know if they've done the homework? Could have quick five minutes at the start of the lesson. Important to build in formative assessment, e.g. Put a quiz on the VLE. If you are not talking, what do you do with the time? Charlie does a lot of group and peer activities. for example: paired programming; jigsaw activities (e.g. different groups developing stuff independently that is then integrated into a final product); larger projects. Can use something like CodeAcademy but you have to add checkpoints and tasks where they demonstrate they have learned. Too much scaffolding in CodeAcademy means the pupils don't get the fun of building there own stuff from scratch. 

Charlie put his stuff on YouTube. Means YouTube looks after things like subtitles transcoding for different platforms and can also create course playlists from variety of sources. He has a paperless classroom. 

Charlie is moving to mastery learning. Don't move on until you have got it. Requires clear learning objectives. This can mean that pupils may all be working on different areas at the same time. The learner takes ownership of the learning (means teacher has to surrender some control). Personalised learning. Learners can't hide while you lecture. If you do mastery learning properly, you close the gap and raise the ceiling!

Challenges. You have to be prepared - you can't fly by the seat of your pants any more. Learners may just want to be told what to do. If lots going on in the classroom, you need to be a content master! Need multiple formative assessments. Also, when do you do the endpoint exam?

Charlie's stores and shares his resources on Google Drive.

Don't focus on the video. It is just the means to the end of letting you get to the discussion, exploration and depth of learning

Location:Lilybank Gardens,Glasgow,United Kingdom
Conference date: Saturday, 26 October 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

C@SS Conference - Keynote 2

Professional Learning And Networking for Computing- Scotland’s PLAN C
Dr Quintin Cutts (Senior Lecturer at Glasgow University)

There is a problem with many new school buildings where there is no staffroom - no place to meet together and share practice. Many teachers are as a result increasingly isolated.

Quintin Cutts Photo by
David Muir
Creative Commons License
Proposal for CPD that came from grassroots. The ADiCOST group was given as an example of teachers working together and supporting… and sharing. (Can’t find web presence another than this Scratch page)

One of the key aims of PLAN C is therefore Community Building. Lead teachers have already been identified and local groups are being formed. Sharing between the groups can also take place. Some sharing can already take place. For example, between people with Information Systems experience and people with Computing experience coming together to build expertise for Nat 5. CPD does not have to come from the expert at the front - there are many people in the classroom with knowledge and experience.

Hope is that local hubs will start in March/April 2014. There will be local sharing and community, but there will be more formal sessions too.

Important questions have to be addressed. For example, why teach Computing Science in schools? Our subject is under threat, we have to be able to articulate what we do and why. One reason is connected to problem solving. Often our approach to problem solving is to use intuition. The problem with that is that the real world has hidden mechanisms and is not always very intuitive. If the way things work is so hidden, we need a method of creation and testing of hypotheses - Computational Thinking gives us a model for doing this. Computing can deliver a skill set that is useful across the curriculum.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

C@SS Conference - Keynote 1

Classrooms, Kitchens and Farms: Exploring the Narrative Nature of PCK
Professor Sally Fincher
(Professor of Computing Education at University of Kent)

Cookbooks: Mrs Beeton was the first to separate ingredients from method and also gave some contextual information (e.g. The cost of the meal.) This was very influential but other ways of describing recipes are possible, for example the engineer's cookbook time is on the x-axis and ingredients are on the y-axis. The best selling non-fiction book a wee while ago was Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals. A comment on Amazon said the problem with the book was to prepare a meal in 30 minutes with Jamie's book, you had to be Jamie Oliver!

Knowledge is situated. You have the knowledge in the recipe but you need a whole bunch of other skills and experiences to pull it off. Often the best way is to see someone else make the food (mother, friend, ...). How do teachers share this situated knowledge? How do we learn from the experience of others?

One way Sally has tried is through Disciplinary Commons where people who are teaching the same areas meet on a regular basis to share practice and experience. Gave the example of introducing selection - don't start with the complex logic and flowcharts. Start with playing cards and lay hem out - ask people to choose the largest. If you do it that way, they will not be able to explain how the chose the right one. If instead, you put the cards face down and say they can only look at two at a time, then they can start to unpick what they are doing. This marries the content knowledge (about selection) with pedagogical knowledge (how people learn) and experiential knowledge (about what we've taught before and whether or not it was successful). Disciplinary Commons has an archive of portfolios with:

  • Context
  • Content
  • Instructional design
  • Delivery
  • Assessment
  • Evaluation

There is also a commentary to contextualise. This narrative knowledge is not a recipe but supports and builds expertise.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

IPad Sharing Practice - General Discussion

Why not Android?
Various issues were raised. Ease of use of iPads was one key feature. Maturity of Apps and teaching tools was also cited. Protected nature of iPad environment was also seen as an advantage. Was acknowledged that it is a constantly moving area and that the "best solution today could easily change tomorrow.

Creativity seen as great for lower school but is it valuable to upper school too?
Research a key element of many S5/6 courses and the iPad is very useful in this regard. But is it as effective for creating large dissertations and reports? Is screen and onscreen keyboard too limiting? Various views were expressed most did not see it as a problem but a minority remained unconvinced.

Tools for teachers?
The 3sys browser based tool was recommended. Also mentioned was Rover to give access to Flash content.

Does 1:1 undermine collaborative work?
Some evidence (from Preston Lodge?) that their devices were used by pupils to create study and self organised support groups. Major advantage of 1:1 is the personal nature of the device. Instead of a school resource sitting unused in a cupboard at weekends and holidays, pupils can make much better use of the technology. Also, acknowledges the pupils are lifelong learners and reflects reality of the world in which they are growing up.

Technical issues?
Evidence shows 1:1 devices are damaged less often perhaps because of the sense of ownership. Importance of good case (Griffin Survivor seen as a must for pupils) emphasised. High School of Dundee reported no technical problems at all with their iPads. Some issues with AppleTV but seems to have been ironed out with latest version and iOS.

Interactive Whiteboards?
Argued that iPad and 1:1 was more interactive than IWBs.

Networking Issues?
Tablets have simplified the process of using computers - when you use the app, the iPad becomes the app. The same is not true for networking! {Still a black art! -- DDM}

Initially many schools are locking it down on the principle that it is easier to open later rather than to tighten things up after leaving things open.

Device Management Software
Was suggested it might be better to have different profiles for different groups (e.g. one for each year group) although it was acknowledged this does added to admin load. Stewart's Melville want to use AirWatch and a web based login system which sets up device. They see the devices as personal and therefore give the user as much control as possible. High School of Dundee has added the restriction that only age appropriate content can be downloaded but not restricted otherwise. Normal filtering on network when in school but not restricted when used at home as that is seen as parental responsibility.

Don't focus on an app - focus on the function!

How do you get an overview of a years work of there is no "jotter" of work?ePortfolio tools still being investigated. Teacher record keeping perhaps more important.

What happens if they forget their iPads?
What happens when a pupil forgets a textbook? Schools where it is in use found it is not an issue - they forget books, but they don't forget their iPads! Also, no problem about them not being charged!

iPad Sharing Practice - The Edinburgh Academy Junior School

Ben Dean and Rob Tyrell

Book Creator:
Book Creator was used to report to parents. Teacher created a book from a template for every pupil and took video (for example of pupil reading) and pictures of work (e.g. seeing writing develop). Used maximum of 30 seconds of video. Made notes on various aspects of the pupil work. On the targets page, the pupil could be videoed saying what they wanted to achieve. Parents can not only hear what the teacher thinks but can easily see and hear from their own child.

It did take more time to set this up and prepare for the parents' night but the teacher felt it was definitely worth it! All the notes and information in the one place.

Other developments:
They had someone from Cedar School speaking to the school. They are also making use of that style of reporting, for example, Cedar School sent out an end of year report to parents in a similar format.

School also set up Silver Surfer days to get grandparents up to speed on iPad use.

IPad Sharing Practice - High School of Dundee

David Smith
Initially sceptical about the transformative power of iPads. Clearly a great device but less clear what impact it would have on teaching. Turning points were: increasing use of personal iPad; and visit to Cedars School of Excellence (probably the first 1:1 iPad school in the world). Became increasingly clear that they had to move to some 1:1 solution and two years ago, the iPad seemed the best way to go. Pilot project launched with two year groups and all staff involved got iPads about eight weeks before pupils. Formed links with University of Dundee which was seen to be mutually beneficial.
This year being rolled out to most of the school with a BYOD approach for upper years. The school treats the iPads lie a book list item and parents are expected to buy, although school is providing leasing option.
Some teachers unclear about how it will be used. Concern also that they would be starting from scratch. Specifically, how were they to access existing content? For example, no solution was given to access network drives, so a variety of approaches were developed. In retrospect, they think they should have given clearer guidance on using a standard way since less confident staff have not developed clear methods and lack of consistency in approach has caused issues. Perhaps should have looked at something like WebDAV.
Also, in retrospect, too much time was spent on how to use the apps and not enough time on the pedagogy - how to teach with the iPads. Sharing good practice seen as very important now.
Managing expectations is important. Wanted to make it clear that, "It's an investment, not a race!" Pupils expectations were easier to manage as they accepted they would not be using the iPads all lesson, every lesson - only when it was appropriate. Teachers though felt obliged to give parents their money's worth. The SAMR model was used again to help teachers see the long term goals as well as the short term changes that are manageable.
Measuring Success
The school measured the success of the trial by questionnaires issued to staff, pupils and parents. The University of Dundee came on board and collected data on attitudes as well as what was happening in the classroom. They have not investigated the impact on academic success but have instead focused on engagement with learning.
They have data on what the pupils thought they got out of it. Creating and presenting was the listed as the top benefit. Gaming was mentioned by the younger pupils - some use made of educational games but mainly they liked being able to play on the iPads, for example when it was wet and they could not go out to play. The pupils, particularly the older pupils, found they were carrying less - fewer books and notes - which was seen as a major benefit. The also likes the communication opportunities, for example, they S2 group very quickly set up a messenger group for the year group that was mostly used for school /educational messages.
Pupils very much saw the iPad as a creative tool - for example using Notation And BookCreator.

Some parents wanted to print but pupils did not see that as an issue at all.
What was reaction to adding iPad to required "kit" list?
Hasn't been a problem. But they were careful not to make promises about savings (although Maths department are using TI calculator app and on iPad texts and are seeing savings).