My 1st day back – Disaster! Software not working!

It was my 1st day back at school today (yes, I know most people went back last week) and  have been looking forward to delivering my new Kodu scheme of work.

Over the holidays, as I am sure some of you have read, I spent 2 weeks creating resources for it.

I had 4 classes today that I intended to deliver the 1st lesson to. Period 1 and the 1st class came in. I explained the project, the learning objectives and the purpose of using Kodu for programming. Now it was time to the next step:

“OK folks, now its time to open Kodu and have a proper look.”

It didn’t work! The software refused to start! Not a great first day back. Four lessons planned and I could not deliver any of them as I had hoped.

What can you do when this happens? Panic? Cry? Get angry?

You have got to be composed and think on your feet.

Luckily I have a number of resources and websites available in just such an occasion. I would advise every teacher to make sure they have the same. Most teachers, I can imagine, do already. One website that is really useful for KS3 is www.reviseict.co.uk, there are some great revision games on there for students.

By period 5, the 4th lesson I was supposed to deliver Kodu, it was up and running. The technicians were great and dropped everything to ensure the software was working correctly. I was a very happy man.

I have to say, I really enjoyed teaching Kodu. It is great fun and really engaging. The students loved it too! The feedback was great, plus many of the students stayed in at lunch to work on their programs.

After an initial disaster I finished work a happy man.

Is teaching computing an intimidating prospect for an ICT teacher?

Computing

When I did my GTP several years ago I did next to no training in computing. As we all know the curriculum was very much ICT based and that was fine with me. The skills I have very much fitted in with the curriculum I had to teach.

Things are now changing. Gove has told teachers that they don’t have to stick to the old curriculum now. Over the past year and a half I have been able to teach my own curriculum anyway, as I have moved to an independent school. But it’s very clear there is a need to teach computing in schools before KS4.

I agree this should happen, and its very exciting. However, it is also quite intimidating. I have spent almost 7 years (including my training) just teaching ICT with very little computing. Where do I go from here? Well, I have already started teaching visual programming using Kodu, I am also in the middle of writing a computer science scheme of work to be delivered next year.

My biggest worry is programming. The reason I didn’t choose programming at university was because I find it very difficult. For me it is like using a new language. I am very much of the opinion programming is not for everyone. Although, I understand it is very important.

I am sure there are other teachers like me who do not program. If the government want programming in schools they are going to need to stump up some money for training courses.

There has to be room for both ICT and Computer Science.

I would also very much like to rebrand ICT, for me it is old fashioned. Perhaps Digital Literacy would be more appropriate?

There are several teachers who I follow on Twitter working on Digital Studies. Is that the rebrand we need? I don’t think there is one answer but would certainly like to  rebrand ICT at my school.

This has been a very cobbled together blog post, so I apologise if it does not seem to very coherent. Over the next few weeks, when I have more time I would like to expand on my thoughts.

Easter Planning – Kodu Part 5 (teaching resources)

Kodu

I have finally finished all the resources for my Kodu scheme of work. Its taken a while but I must admit its been great fun.

All the resources will be uploaded to Edmodo so that my students can access them from anywhere with an internet connection. This includes their smartphones. Tutorial videos will also be made available to encourage independent learning.

Below are all the resources I have created.

Links:

  1. Kodu Objectives Presentation (SkyDrive) (Google Docs)
  2. Evaluation (SkyDrive)
  3. Peer Assessment (SkyDrive)
  4. Checklist (SkyDrive)
  5. Documentation Example (SkyDrive)
I hope you find them useful.

iPad mirroring on your Mac with the Reflection App (Video)

iPad screenshot

I first read about Reflection from the AppApvice website at the beginning of March. It looked great but I did not get round to downloading it.

A few days ago Gavin Smart, who I follow on Twitter recommended it on his blog.

This was the excuse I needed so I downloaded it. I must say, its really good. There have been a few issues, one of which was the App crashing when viewing photos in full screen. This does not always happen, and I have a feeling it may have something to do with my Mac.

I have always wanted a cheap and easy way to create iPad screencasts/video tutorials and I think I have found it.

The App can be downloaded from HERE and is $14.99 for a single licence.

I have knocked up a brief video overview of Reflection which you can see below. I used QuickTime to record my screen, but using something like Camtasia or Screenflow would be better if you wanted to create polished screencasts. However, you could always import your QuickTime video into one of these application afterwards.

Edmodo – Do you need to pay for a VLE? (presentation included)

I am sure that there are very few people who have not heard of Edmodo by now. However, for those who haven’t, or who are not sure what it is; I thought I would include a very brief overview.

Over the last few years I have used several expensive learning platforms and VLE’s. In my experience they have been overly complicated, time consuming and often did not do what the school wanted. Without going into too much detail, I know two schools who have both purchased a very expensive learning platform and instantly regretted it. Luckily they managed to get their money back. I can imagine these were the lucky ones.

I started using Edmodo a while ago and I have not looked back. Its fantastic, does pretty much everything I want, its easy to use and best of all its free.

Some will say its simply a stripped down VLE, I would say it is just streamlined.

Perhaps it is not as advanced as many paid for products, but how many schools actually utilize all the features found in these?

Please have a look at  presentation below. (Click here for the formatted presentation on SkyDrive) It should should give you a brief overview of what Edmodo can do. Hope you find it useful and perhaps it may save your school some money.