Jan 29 2017
Click here for lots of ideas for classroom teachers to get better at Computer Science teaching.
Jan 21 2017
Click here to go to slides. Thank you to Oliver and the Raspberry Pi Foundation for the opportunity to start to develop this strand.
Only 20% of current 9_1 Computer Science GCSEs are Python… 50% theory means we should be focussed on how to teach theory well and keeping up-to-date with latest techniques to do this underpinned with theory and a shared understanding of what works well.
I hope to make a contribution to this discussion. Please feel free to join in on #caschat and CAS forum in the next few weeks.
Dec 20 2016
Here I outline how we have used a variety of resources to increase our Year 7 students’ understanding of sequencing and use of loops – as well as having fun and engaging with their learning.
Having reviewed our baseline test at the beginning of Year 7, our Year 7s showed better than expected eSafety, better Scratch understanding, but poorer computing programming and sequencing skills. I looked at several resources online and have used Phil Bagge’s Jam Sandwich making Robot, Stephen Howell’s Scratch Shape Drawing Activity for CoderDojo; Simon Haughton’s Etch-a-Sketch; and Barefoot Computing’s Crystal Flowers (pdf download) to create the following resources:
“Scratch Shapes” scheme of learning – jam sandwich making robot and Scratch Polygons and nested loops
I am really pleased with these two lessons of activities.
The jam sandwich making robot really got a ‘buzz’ going, and students fully engaged with ‘paired’ programming and sequencing (I still am not quite happy with differentiating this – re: lower ability – and will think again next year). The shapes work engaged higher and lower ability students with good stretch for the higher. It also interested the Maths department and will link in next year with ScratchMaths resources. I also discovered the debugging ideas from MIT which I will be showing to the students for the games they make – part of our student assessment sheets requires them to comment/screenshot how they make their games better including debugging.
The timing was perfect… unlike the BBC:Microbits. Some made the snowflake in the last week of term. And adding this unit in meant all students were proficient with scratch in time for doing their games in the holidays knowing how to use Scratch online. For some students, this will make a big difference.
Finally, it gives extra time for all students (maybe 20% of our students have not used scratch before) to log on to and understand how to make scratch programmes before we get onto the game making unit (based on PGonline’s Scratch unit).
Nov 9 2016
Women require work to have a clear social application.
Stress teams require both genders to function to solve real-life problems – adv to be female.
Need have a sense of belonging.
Men write more on competence and women more on warmth related – compassion and interpersonal skills.
Next step(s): stress advantage to be a woman in minority STEM subject as needed in a balanced team.
Oct 30 2016
(Chapter 3 of Women and Information Technology: Research on Underrepresentation – Joanne Cohoon and William Aspray)
Sue Sentance suggested several research papers to me, and this was by far the most useful.
“This chapter presents four themes that suggest some reasons why and how high school female students are — or are not — drawn into the field of computer science through their high school experiences. First, despite the national and local initiatives to “bring schools into the twenty-first century,” researchers discovered that few computer science learning opportunities actually exist at the high school level, especially in schools that serve communities of colour. Second, they found that notions of relevance play a key role in influencing females’ choices to enrol or not enrol in computer science classes. A limited and narrow presentation of what computer science is as well as what computer scientists actually do impacts students’ take on how computer science could further their academic and career endeavours. Third, for the female students who do take computer science, researchers observed an accumulation of negative experiences in classroom settings, where greater male technology experience/expertise and female social isolation and insecurity are part of the cultural landscape. Fourth, all of these experiences are then compounded by the way that computer science is motivated and “interpreted” for the students”.