Just say Yes!

I wonder how many times I’ve had a good idea (or a bad one) and managed to talk myself out of it. It’ll just make more work, I’ll look stupid when it falls through, I won’t pull it off, someone else would do it better than me.

I remember, some years ago, being invited down to the Emirates to do a 15 minute talk on collaborative technology. I think it was because I started a shared slideshow on Google Docs to collect and share ideas for non-techie teachers but I’m really not sure.

I’d never stood up in front of other teachers before, I was on sage or role model, I’d never even been to a conference. I read the email, read it again, thought for about 30 seconds and replied yes and hit send. I did it quick because I knew that if I thought about it I’d say no.

I didn’t know what I would say, what I would recommend or how it might be perceived. And I’d have to wangle the day out of work. But if I said yes quickly then what the hell, I’d just have to make it work. And I did.

15 tools in 15 minutes turned into a 10 minute rush through as they were running late by the time it was my turn, but it went down very well. It led to my first Teachmeet (where I further compressed it to a 7 minute version – mostly by skipping all the pauses to breathe I put into the original), a further series of sessions (including a visit to BAFTA) and ultimately, gave me the confidence to run all kinds of CPD sessions that have kept me sane.

At the same time, I’ve had lots of ideas for after school activities. I’ve bought sewable, wearable Lilypad kit, PicAXE robots, Arduino kits, Raspberry Pis and more. But my Y11s need coursework catchup time. It means more work when I am flooded with marking. It doesn’t provide ‘measurable impact’ for my appraisal. I’m tired!

However. In the same way that my CPD sessions, my CAS work and my other ‘extra’ stuff keeps me sane, running this kind of stuff is a big part of why I became a teacher in the first place. Not to get people through exams, or controlled assessment. Not to make sure my PP, SEND, Level 4, Most Able and other cohorts make the requisite demonstrations of progress according to their KS2 data. Not to convince students who ‘don’t like IT’ that they should engage for 60 minutes a week because I want them to. Those things are important, but the thing that really gets the blood flowing is working with enthusiastic people who want to know more about something.

I did that in passing before I was a teacher, and it was what made me look into a PGCE. It’s why I like running CPD for teachers. And it’s why, when I saw a tweet showing a wind speed graph at the Forth Bridge during a storm I decided I was buying a weather station, talking to the science department and doing something with students.

It’s early days, and I’m not sure I have a clear end goal – but then the end goal isn’t really the point. I’ll find some interested students, we’ll do some stuff, get lost along the way and we’ll all learn something. I don’t really know what I’m doing – so it may all go horribly wrong. It will undoubtedly cause more work for me. And I’m sure there are others (@tecoed) who could do it better. But if I don’t say yes quickly then it won’t happen. And that would be a great shame.

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This is not a CPD session

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Jam Packed Roadshow, Darlington, January 2015 – Mark Clarkson

This Saturday I will be spending 6 hours at school.

Why? Because I’m launching the first Teesside Raspberry Jam – a hopefully regular meetup for people interested in Raspberry Pis.

teessidejam.eventbrite.co.uk

I say first, because I’m not counting Alan O’Donohoe’s excellent JamPacked roadshow that came to nearby Darlington last year. That was a fantastic event, and one I attended as a parent and a tech nerd rather than as a teacher. But it sowed a seed in my mind, and this year I’m determined to do more of the stuff I enjoy.

So, this Saturday I am inviting ANYONE who has an interest in Raspberry Pis to come to my school any time between 10am and 2pm. Turn up late, leave early, bring a friend, whatever works. It’s for children, adults, parents, teachers, nerd, geeks, newbies, the uninitiated, the hackers, the builders – anyone.

I will have some Pis, some robot arms, power and networking. That really is it – no program to stick to, to objectives to be assessed.

As a result of my typical network reach I’m expecting it will be largely populated my teachers from the area and pupils from my school. It would be GREAT to have a wider reach, but maybe that will come later if we can establish this as a regular (monthly?) event…

Please do come if you can, and please do spread the word.

The Best Things In Life Are Free (a story about CPD)

FREE BEER 3.3 Ready to Drink!

Originally uploaded by AGoK

They say that the best things in life are free, and yet people regularly pay £200-£400 for a one day course on a variety of topics. Heck, I’ve been lucky enough to charge for running CPD sessions myself, so I’m not writing here to complain!

This last Friday, though, the decision in school was that for our staff development PD day, where previously we have had outside speakers come in and run session on whole-school issues, we would take advantage on some of the that already exists within school. Part of it is that there are pockets of expertise in one particular area and part of it is that some teachers are (naturally) better at some things than others.

Heads of department signed their staff up to 3 sessions a week before the day and the idea was to spread staff around the sessions so we can all feed back in the next departmental twilight (this week).

I signed myself up for ‘Planning for Outstanding’ delivered by a local assistant head, ‘Starters and plenaries’ jointly run by an HE and a science specialist, and ‘Building Challenge to Support Pupil Progress’ by one of our assistant heads.

Feel free to skip a section or two if you like, but as you might have guessed by the title, the day was really, really useful and productive. It did that thing that happens at Teachmeets, the CAS Conference and other events that I would class as the very best I’ve been to – left me enthused and convinced that I have the tools to be a better classroom practicioner.

I ‘decided’ before the day that it was going to be a good one and that I wasn’t going to be cynical about being told how to teach by my fellow teachers. While I mean that, it also tells you something because I initially had to decide not to be cynical. I can safely say that no conscious descision was involved in deciding that it was a genuinely powerful and incredibly worthwhile day.

Right then, gushing over, here is a breakdown of the 3 sessions (which I summarise largely for my own reflection, but also with the hope that others can steal the same ideas for themselves).

Planning for Outstanding

In this session we looked at how we can use our in-house lesson plan to plan effectively for learning and progress. This sounds a bit dry, and it’s hard for it not to be, but after the talk about Ofsted and standards and what Ofsted expect to see and how we can make sure we plan for it, the best thing to come out of the session was a really interesting version of a lesson plan that the kids get to see.

The idea is that you produce an A4 or A3 document that looks like a lesson plan but that lasts for a whole topic of work. You have aims and objectives, key words and a place for pupil and teacher comments at key stages (say three times over the course of the unit). This allows an opportunity for providng (and, perhaps mildly cynically) evidencing AfL and students’ responses to AfL. I say mildly cynically as it saddens me that we have to produce evidence for Ofsted. That said, I think that overall it leads to a positive result as this kind of back and forth can only, really, be useful for the students.

The really intriguing section, though, is the bottom half of the page. Here you have a 3 x 10 grid (assuming a 10 week topic, adjust as necessary). For each lesson there is a satisfactory, good and outstanding description of the lesson outcome (e.g. I can create a 3D drawing of a house, I can create a 3D drawing of a house and use textures to make it look realistic, I can create a 3D drawing of a house with a range of extra features such as a garden, fence, hedge and swimming pool). You could rename these as All, Most, Some; you could use grades A-B, C-D, E-F; you could use levels 4c/4b, 4a/5c, 5b/5a.

Each student gets one to stick in their books (I know, I know, ICT, I’ll come to that) and this is their primary document throughout the project. Now it’ll take some time to prepare and you need to allow some freedom for course correction along the way, but it’s basically a whole SoW mapped out from the pupils’ perspective. I’m very, very seriously considering giving it a go.

Starters and Plenaries

This was a really, really fun session. It wasn’t run by anyone above me in the food chain (which always takes the politics out of the equation) and we more or less had a load of ideas thrown at us and we got to have a go at them. Nothing makes a session like this greater than having practical things to do and much fun was had. Here is a run down of some of the ideas we tried out:

Stand Up Sit Down – Students have 4 cards pinned together on a keyring, lettered A B C and D. Stick 15 questions on a slideshow and everyone has to show a letter. Get it wrong and you’re out (but still have to play). Be still standing at the end and get a merit, sticker, sweet or some other reward.

What’s The Image? – Print a picture, get it laminated, cut it into odd shaped pieces and instant jigsaw. Starter is to assemble the picture and deduce the topic of the lesson or kick off a discussion.

Loop Cards – A bit like dominoes with a question on the right and an answer on the left. The cards go round in a circle so read your question, whoever has the answer asks the next. Time two teams or pit whole classes against each other in a time trial.

10 Questions – One volunteer (or victim) has to answer 10 questions asked by the teacher. The class don’t comment but give a tick if they think the answer is right and write their own answer if they think it’s wrong. Discuss the answers but it takes some of the pressure off the need to be right all the time.

Mystery Bag – get a cloth bag or even a box. Put objects inside that relate to a topic and students have to feel their way around and either guess the linking theme or suggest 5 more items that could be added.

Guess The Logo – Pretty simple idea, get osme logos related to the topic and remove enough detail to make them less obvious.

Question Answer Question – Write out a list of 10 questions. The students have to first answer the question, then write a new question that leads to that answer (which you can’t do if you don’t understand the topic).

Artist’s Easel – Provide a paragraph of prose explaining a method or process (e.g. how an email gets form one computer to another). Students draw a diagram to represent the process, highlight (say) 9 key words and finally perform a diamond rank or similar.

Memory Board – Put 10 or so words on the board. Give students 20 seconds to remember them then hide them. Students have to explain all of the key words on paper or whiteboards.

Weakest Link – Odd one out game, stick 4 pictures on a slide and get students to identify and justify the odd one out. Especially good if you make the answer ambiguous.

You Say We Pay – Slideshow of images related to a topic with obvious names written underneath. One (or two if you want some competition) pupils sit with their back to the screen and have to guess the object. Those giving clues aren’t allowed to use any of the words on the board.

What’s In My Head? – At the end of a lesson have a picture of a head with some key words behind it (unseen). Pupils list the keywords they think you will have included and then you can reveal the answers or get students to elaborate on their suggestions.

What’s The Question? – Based on jeopardy, have a series of answers on the whiteboard and students have to work out the questions.

Guess Who – Just like the Churchill advert (Am I…. Genghis Khan?). Laminate some A3 paper, cut into strips and apply velcro to make a headband. Laminate some people, objects or ideas and away you go.

True/False – Write some HARD true/false questions. Two teams have a go at guessing the answers – teams because this encourages debate and discussion about WHY the answer is true or false. They’re tough questions so there’s no shame in getting it wrong and even if guessing you have a 50/50 chance.

Scrambled Letters (this was my favourite) – laminate 3 copies of the alphabet per group (groups of 3 work well). Each person should have one copy of every letter. Set a question and the winners are the first group to spell out the whole answer. Teachers (at leasT) get HUGELY competetive. And it hits the literacy agenda too.

Dominoes – Produce domino cards with words relating to the topic in hand. Students have to play the cards however they want as long as they can justify the links in the context of the topic.

Diamond Rank – Produce 9 cards or key words. Students (preferably in groups) organise these into 1 most important, 2 very important, 3 important, 2 less important and 1 least important.

Missing Object – Create a slide with 15 or 20 objects. Then a blank slide, then the same slide with 1 object missing. It’s surprisingly difficult to spot the missing object.

As well as those, check out ContentGenerator, Quiz Busters and Triptico for loads more white-board based ideas

Building Challenge to Support Pupil Progress

This was another great session, with a good mix of theory and practical ideas. Initially expecting it to be about G&T students I actually found myself being given a whole range of strategies that fit in well with my minimally invasive strategy. They’re mutually exclusive in the sense that I have to be invasive enough to set specific tasks, but the principle of encouraging students to think and learn for themselves is on the same wavelength. The workshop leader even started with the same sat-nav metaphor I used with my Y8s last week.

The theory stuff included why we need challenge (e.g. top football teams raising their game against their closest rivals) and what happens if we don’t have it (no sense of achievement, slow progress). We looked at the fixed vs growth mindsets and examined questioning strategies (which I have always found to be a weakness of mine). The Pit is an idea whereby if you draw a graph of clarity vs time you start just positive (concept), dip way down (conflict), start to turn a corner (construct) and shoot out higher than ever (consider). The idea is that by tackling tricky concepts without being spoon fed you get confused, but then work your way back up and ultimately understand the topic far better. All of the practical tasks below are designed to support this pattern.

The practical stuff that supported this could largely fit into the previous session as well, although some tasks were too long to be thought of as plenaries and starters. not all, though, by a long shot.

TarsiaGoogle it and you’ll find a website that lets you input key words and spits out triangles that fit together by linking two things together. Like a domino but with more complexity and more thinking involved.

Concept Mapping – Something that many of probably come across, but I hadn’t. List key words randomly around a piece of sugar paper then draw lines to connect some of them. On the lines write (in prose) about the links and explain them. After a few minutes, swap with another group and you can’t make any new connections, but have to expand on the previous ones. Perhaps repeat once more and then go back to see what has happened to your original map.

Which Wordle Words? – Use Wordle or Tagxedo to create a uniform word cloud and have students select just 5 of the most important. Then make them rank them or use them in a sentence. Tagxedo has the added benefit that you can mouse over the words and they will pop out on the screen so you can highlight them interactively.

Thinking Tube Line – Grab a screenshot of a train line (preferably with a branch somewhere) and remove the station names. Have one concept at one end (e.g. freedom) and one at the other (Internet). Students then have to fill in the station getting from one to the other. It may end up as a journey or a continuum, or something else. Surprisingly tricky to do and if you do get a high flier finished early then add a thir word at the end of the branch (safety) and get them to think a bit deeper.

Folded Opinion Line – A twist on a classic. Have ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ on the back wall and students stand according to their opinion. Get the left-hand half to step forward, turn around and shuffle to the far end – the most extreme on the right is facing the most central, and the other most central is facing the furthest on the left. Each side must talk for 30 seconds without pause or interuption about why they chose to stand where they did and at the end they decide on a (potentially) new place to stand.

Challenge Cards – Rather than rewarding quick finishers with more work at the same level, give them a card with a question. A really tough question. Maybe give KS3 students a GCSE question, or GCSE students an A Level question. How does the Internet work? When is it OK to ignore copyright? What is the definition of a computer?

6×6 – Produce a 6×6 placemat of pictures or key words (or both). Students roll a die to select the row and the column, ultimately collecting two pictures. They then have to explain the link between them in the context of the topic at hand. Surprisingly engaging and more-ish.

What If? – What if the Internet broke tomorrow? Students consider the question and suggest 3 things. Now ask which is th emost likely, the most appealing, the most concerning?

Bloom’s Taxonomy Planner – There are a few versions of this around. Print one out and stick it near your desk or wherever you plan. You could devise questions for your lesson plan or make them up on the hoof, but by having the starting points at your fingertips you can tailor the level of challenge to the progress of the students. Struggling? Ask some basic knowledge questions. Doing well? What about some application or analysis? High fliers? Jump straight to synthesis and evaluation.

Thinking Dice (URL)- This wasn’t actually included in the session but following a brilliant session by Steve Bunce at the Optimus Education ICT2012 conference last week the whole department are getting some thinking dice. 6 brightly coloured dice with question starters ranked by their level according to Bloom. Get the students to come up with the questions for you. Weaker students can start with the red – the most able with the blue and purple. At £10 a throw (no finaincial gain for me, I promise) I think they look pretty good.

Matching Words – Start with an unrelated topic (e.g. cars). Individuals (in teams of 4) have 60 seconds to write down as many words as possible. The team captain then reads out their list and ONLY gets a point if EVERYONE in the group has that word. Repeat for a related topic and add the scores. In theory, all teams should do better on the second attempt, and they are surprisingly reluctant to cheat.

So there you have it. 34 ideas by my reckoning. That’s even more than you get at an average teachmeet, for an entire staff and at a total cost of £0. Easily the best value CPD I’ve had this week.

Python Summer School

Python rocks!!

Originally uploaded by Kushal Das

Over the past year lots and lots of people have asked me about a programming summer school – an opportunity for non-coding ICT teachers to pick up some programming skills in advance of next year.

I always feel a pang of altruism when I hear things like that always want to try and offer something to fill in the gaps – but the result of that is that I spend lots and lots of time sorting out CAS hub meetings, attending teachmeets, sharing resources and lots of other stuff that I massively enjoy and get a lot from, but it doesn’t half eat into my free (ha ha!) time.

And so I decided last week I *would* run a summer school, but that (unusually for me), I would charge for it.

Having done a bit of research, the likes of Lighthouse and exam boards themselves usually offer CPD courses for £225 – 300 + VAT per day. After a bit of calculating, I reckon that charging £250 for two days (so half the price of the others), I can still sleep at night, most schools can afford to spend the cost of a day’s supply for 2 days of training without needing any cover and I can earn a few quid to help me try and reach my financial aspiration of one day getting to the lofty heights of flat broke.

So, I present to you the first ever Teesside Python Summer School. Your £250 gets you a place on a small course (max. 14 delegates, so you can get the individual attention and support that you need), two lunches, any and all resources I can come up with and a big does of good karma for helping to offset all the other stuff I have (and will continue to) given away.

I’ve provisionally shifted half the tickets already, which is great, but do get in touch if you have any queries.

CAS Conference 2012

I’m writing this post on the train home from the amazing CAS Conference 2012 (#casconf2012).

I tried ot tweet as much as possible during the two days, but between a limited battery life and (more importantly) getting actively involved in many of the sessions there is much I haven’t talked about.

As always, my blogging is almost entirely selfish and my main priority is to start to reflect on what I’ve learned over the last two days. It’s all very ‘gut reaction’ stuff before I forget the details.

Thursday – Bring & Brag

The evening before the main conference is traditionally a ‘bring & brag’ unconference style event. Meet up, eat nibbles, drink wine, then a series of short presentations .This year the whole thing felt tight and slick, with quick turnarounds, short presentations and little reliance on slideshows. Being partly involved in the running of the B&B session I didn’t really get chance to make many notes, but Alan O’Donohue (@teknoteacher) was as energetic as ever, Ben Gristwood (@Mr_G_ICT) talked about some really interesting work with Digital Leaders and someone (I forget who!) talked about a 6th form student who built a gaming PC for their A2 extended project – something I want my Y7s to get involved in this term!

Thankfully Leon Cych (@eyebeams) was there capturing everything – video, audio and stills – and I should have the audio from each mini-talk to post on the CAS Rounup Podcast over the next few weeks.

Friday – Plenaries – CAS LAndscape & Future and Centres of Excellence

Partly housekeeping and partly letting everyone know where everything is going, Simon Peyton-Jones (chair of CAS) and Bill Mitchell (Director of BCS Academoy of Computing) talked about the many, many events that have occured over the last 12 months, including the Royal Society Report, the official withdrawal of the ICT PoS and, vitally, the fact this isn’t the government saying ‘we don’t value ICT’ but TPTB offering us the opportunity to decide what WE think is important. Bill also talked about the CAS/BCS Network of Excellence. The hope was to get 200 schools and a couple of universities involved int he first year, with maybe 30 universities and lots of schools by 2020. So far there have been over 500 school applications and over 20 universities have expressed an interest, so the motiviation is there and next year should be a very exciting one.

Keynote – Replacing City Traders With Robots – Dave Cliff

Keynotes are funny things. Sometimes they’re fascinating and engorssing, sometimes they’re practical and involving, sometimes they’re dull and seem t go on for ever. This one was definitely the first. Giving a bit of context (horses and pigeons being the early information and communication technology used by the very first stock market traders) we looked at how automated systems have developed to the point where they are involved in 95% of all stock market transactions – many with no human involvements at all. Then we looked at how humans have managed to screw up complex technology on a grand scale. The scariest topic was ‘normalisation of deviance’ – the idea that something outside of acceptable parameters doesn’t immediately end in failure, so we accept it as ‘normal’. This is ultimately what led to the Challenger disaster and demonstrates nicely why relying on technology can be a risky business. Bring the two topics together and you have an almost entirely automated multi-national economic system written by software engineers that has repeatedly shown in recent years that it is working outside the bounds of safety (an IPO going from $15 per share to $0.00002 per share in less than 1.5 seconds, quicker than the CEO can hit the off switch, with no rational explanation from any financial authority is just one of many scary examples given). This might not sound like the most fascinating of topics, and it might not be the most obvious way to start a conference about teaching computer science in schools, but Dave did a fantastic job of demonstrating not how, but WHY computer science is so important.
Workshop 1 – Arduino: If seeing is beliving, what is touching? – Chris Martin

I’ve been hearing people talk about Arduinos for a while now. I even tried to buy a kit a few years ago but the company, for some reason, decided not to process my order and I never did get round to chasing it up. With a simple programming interface (there are only two buttons you need and a space for some syntax), a USB lead and any manner of ‘bits’ you can program a physical device. Starting with making an LED flash on and off we were quickly controlling the speed of the flashing using potentiometers, using light sensors to turn motors and using acoustic proximity sensors to set off explosions (because, and I quote, “it’s not just chemists that get to blow s**t up”). The kits are around £40 with everything you need to get started, and with paired or small group programming you could get away with 4 or 5 for a class. As a workshop should, this was hands on from the start and while some students naturally engage with on-screen programming, the idea that you can do something with a physical output in seconds is undoubtedly engaging for many. I think half a dozen Arduino kits half just become my top priority with any spare budget, even more so than the Kinect I was after.

Workshop 2 – Algorithmic Problem Solving – Joao Ferrerrira

I’ve mentioned more than once that while my GCSE Computing students have really engaged with computer programming and have enjoyed getting to grips with the discrete elements (assignment, selection, iteration, file handling, etc.) my big bugbear is that most are not good at problem solving, decomposition and abstraction. That is to say, ask them to write a for loop to display the first 20 square numbers and you’re sorted, but give them a problem (like how many trips it will take to get a load of vampires and maidens to a hotel bar) and they just don’t know how to start breaking th eproblem down into manageable chunks. Joao presented some really interesting approaches to generating algorithms without a computer. Some of it was quite heavy (Hoare triples and state change diagrams, for those who know about such things) but I really do think there’s scope here to investigate better ways of helping students to start thinking computationally, which is an essential part of computing as a discipline.

As an added bonus, it turns out Joao lives less than 3 miles from my school and is running his undergraduate course on algorithmic problem solving in September at my nearest university. Suffice to say I’ve made sure he’ll be presenting at a hub meeting before veyr much longer!

Lunch

Now I’m not normally one to go into *so* much detail, and this isn;t about the food (delicious though it was). The point here is I actually 5 minutes (maybe as much as 10) to catch my breath. Those 3 sessions were all genuinely inspiring and packed with brilliant ideas and stuff that I wanted to think about. The cogs were whirring and had that been the end of the day then I would have happily set out for home with a spring in my step and feeling that I’d got a heck of a lot of value. As it was, there was still much more to come!

Workshop 3 – The productive teacher – James Franklin

James wanted to talk about a pedagogical approach called Minimally Invasive Education, pioneered by Sugata Mitra. His argument is that in the absence of a teacher, learners will teach themselves. If you provide them with the resources and the encouragement then they can learn at least as effectively without direct intervention as they would with it. To this extent James showed his Y7 class a series of manipulated images and gave them 6 lessons to teach themselves and each other the skills required to replicate them. He actively refused to do any teaching or answer questions and removed any rules in order that they shouldn’t be barriers to learning. Want to text your Dad to help solve that problem? Fine. Want to use your phone to wathc a video tutorial on YouTube? Fine. Want to tie your tie around your head like Rambo? Well… only if you can justify it pedagogically.

A very similar technique apparently worked well for spreadsheet modelling too and feedback form the students was overwhelmingly positive. James’ GCSE cohort didn’t do quite as well, however. While they learned a heck of a lot about databases and could explain why forms were useful in terms of your ability to add macros, action buttons and user-friendly interface elements, they scored very poorly on practice papers because they weren’t hitting the rote answer expected by the exam board.

Maybe this says something about the way in which we assess students, and maybe this approach is better suited to skills-based topics rather than knowledge-based. James admitted himself that he would be very wary of using this technique to teach programming from scratch as it is too easy for students to waste a lot of time exploring the wrong avenue when a simple array would save them all the hassle.

Overall it’s a brave approach, and one that would almost certianly fail an inspection on the grounds that not eveyr student can demonstrate progress over one lesson (in fact, the fact that they can sometimes make no progress in a lesson is actually the point!). That said, if we want independent learners who can solve problems, communicate, work collaboratively and don’t sit around waiting to be spoon fed then this might be just what the doctor ordered.

Workshop 4 – Sensing the world (with Scratch)

My final workshop of the day was spent playing with picoboards, a £40 sensor board that plugs in via USB and talks directly to Scratch. With nothing more than a simple driver install I was playing the trombone by blowing into the microphone and moving a slider bar, and then managed to quickly write a working game with a variety of controls including light sensing, buttons and more. Much simpler than an Arduino and much more focused on physical input that a Raspberry Pi, I can see why these engage students so well and they’re going second on my shopping list after the Arduino kits mentioned earlier.

Plenaries – How Google can help you & Raspberry Pi

I have to admit, I was totally exhausted by this point and somewhat overwhelmed. Andrew Eland and Alan Mycroft both spoke eloquently and engagingly about their respective topics and Google is very keen to support computing as a discipline. Particularly as their UK recruitment of software engineers is doubling every 18 months (a trend that shows no sign of letting up in the near future). I *still* have yet to get my hands on a Pi, and even when I do, I think I might just be too busy playing with Arduino kits and sense boards to get much done.

Summary

In summary? Best. Day. Ever. Last year was great, the year before was fantastic. This was simply awe inspiring. All the things I haven’t mentioned – chatting with Susan Robson, catching up with frineds from the CAS Working Group, shared conversations in the atrium over sandwiches (or a pint, last night). They were a huge part of it all and I’m heading back and JUST the right time of year, all set to plan the most kick-ass curriculum you’ve ever seen.

Teachmeet Tees 11

Sharing

Originally uploaded by ThomasLife

What better way is there of spending a wet and windy Thursday evening? More sandwiches than you can ever eat, an opportunity to play Kinect with Steve Bunce and getting on for a dozen short presentations by teachers sharing excellent ideas.

The atmosphere was cosy, the cupcakes inviting and the hosts (Steve Bunce and Simon Finch) genial.

I couldn’t possibly mention all of the presentations, but Alasdair Douglas‘ Angry Birds project, Martin Waller’s Growing Greener summary and Dominic McGladdery’s campaign to allow mobile devices to be used in the classroom were personal highlights.

Once more I find myself with some free CPD inspiring me to go out and try more things I don’t have time to implement (time when I should be writing up what I’m already doing, and thanks for the prod Dominic!).

Right then… when’s the next one?

Every Day Is A School Day

McMann Student Art, Attitude!!

Originally uploaded by JustUptown

I decided this morning to write down all of the CPD things I’ve done in the last few years. This was in part due to me seeing a load of job applications recently and remembering that you get asked that a lot on application forms, and partly I wondered just what I’ve done.

It turns out I’ve done 4 things every year since 2009. It’s a mixture of exam board courses (rare), presenting at conferences (at least one a year) and TeachMeets (often 2 a year).

As someone said to me recently, ‘Every Day Is A School Day’. A much better way of saying ‘You Learn Something Every Day’. By going out of my way to sign up for conferences, by attending TeachMeets, and by going out of my way to talk to teachers (be it the TES, Twitter, Facebook, even a wander down to the staffroom every now and again…) I do my best to make sure I’m learning stuff that’s *useful*.

And I’ve got 3 CPD events going on in just the next 3 weeks. Time to get my brain working… 😀