September is fast approaching and the weather is not the only thing seeing a change this autumn. Across the whole country teachers are set to start teaching the new curriculum in computing which includes the likes of coding and digital literacy.
Within the Secondary sector there are specialist teachers with specialist ICT tools, however relate that into our Primary sector and there is an obvious skills gap and very few teachers with an IT background.
Hosting an event on the subject seemed like a fantastic way to bridge the gap and really tackle the fear surrounding the new curriculum. With help from Microsoft’s Stuart Ball and Russell Prue the anxiety was lifted off the shoulders and out of the palms of the teachers really putting emphasis on letting the children you are teaching be creative.
A lot of the tools on a computer they will learn how to use through trial and error anyway. Through technology kids are less scared of making mistakes and the psychology behind this is simple. Through using creative programs like Kodu there is always an undo button. When you make mistakes it is very easy to go back and amend them. Allowing kids to make mistakes is hat will educate them not only academically but also giving them key life skills.
Stuart Ball was inspirational in taking the responsibility of IT away from the IT subject leader. If you ran out of paint would you go to the art subject leader? Rather than having 1 person responsible for plugging in all of the kit, why not have a group of students designated to aid teachers fix technology. This can be used as the ‘basics’ issues! Batteries for white board pens for example
Behind every inspiring lesson is an inspired educator and it’s allowing those educators to become excellent leaders. Russell Prue gave the room a refreshing breath that to become a fantastic teacher they would have to allow the students to learn what they want to learn! Kids learn what they are interested in anyway, rather than shoving more information at them through a coding textbook, let them play games and use kit!
Moving into the afternoon and both Stuart and Russell moved on to workshops to engage teachers and give them the ideas on how to become the modern teacher! Russell, through his brilliantly fun radio kit, allowed the teachers to play with it and show them how a radio kit can be used to help get hands on with education.
With the big orange microphones and colourful monitors in place the groups were divided into primary and secondary. It was quickly pointed out by the secondary staff that the emphasis should be taken away from software and hardware and more about the young people learning, understanding and taking risks.
The ideas that came out at the event, such as rearranging the classroom away from traditional rows, can make a big difference. Is the future in portable devices and beanbags?
BYOD is an idea every school can try and have a look at, kids are getting new devices every year for Christmas, what acceptable use policies are in place? Kids are still texting under desks and banning phones are just going to make things worse! If you really want to stop them using it, make it educational!
A few of the schools have young people coming from such diverse backgrounds. These students will not have access to their own devices. You can buy a tablet for around £130 these days which is the easiest option for schools looking at a 1 to 1 device to user ratio.
Looking at the free software available through Kodu it allows students to put programs together in a way that they can see. This can help their development b making it very interactive, it also allows them to make mistake through the software and they aren’t going to develop the fear of failure!
Stuart Ball made a very interesting point in his workshop, why are we banning things from classrooms? How many of you have the kids making loom bands in schools? And I bet they’ve decided to ban them for 1 reason or another, as soon as you tell a student not to do something the urge to do it becomes that much higher!
So how do you stop the threat of loom bands taking over? Make it educational! You can go through and make the students think about what they are doing to create them. Where does it fit in with the new curriculum? It’s computational thinking. An algorithm around a pattern. Red-Green-Blue-Green-Red-Green-Blue.
We all know if you make something educational kids will lose interest very quickly!