Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Apple Women Leading Learning: Coding Summer School Day 1

The Apple coding workshop was held at the UTS (University of Technology Sydney) building in Sydney. We started with a presentation about why we should teach coding.

Coding inspires creation. It’s about harnessing the power and put into hands of students
We briefly looked at the Swift Playground app and met some of the Apple presenters.
Apple Education and Girl Geek Academy

Why teach coding?
Coding is a learnable skill, Jobs and careers, To change the world, Empowerment

Very often there are incredible gains to be made from technology.
We are expert users of programmes that someone else has written - people doing
programming were actually holding power over what we do.
Coding provides opportunities for people to create own apps and programmes
Students need opportunity to create their own programmes/apps

Focus of workshop: how to become great leaders in delivering coding programme
How to deliver/sell importance of programme to school and staff

Girl Geek - Sarah CEO
Female leaders
She-Hacks - female only hackathon

Barriers for women in tech
Women are not recruited as much
Women have access to fewer resources
Girls are not encouraged to enter STEM subjects
Gender equality problem
Attitudes are a barrier
Under representation of girls in IT jobs
Influence of parents
Teacher gender biases
Career advice

How to change this?
Building self efficacy in girls
Use of positive language to build confidence in girls
Women tend to underestimate their skills compared to men

Sphero: can be programmed to respond in a unique environment

Computational participation - capacity to work collaboratively, explain ideas and
thinking with other people

Ways of thinking with Sphero
How does it impact on what we are about to undertake?
Value of activity in real world?

3 Types of Thinking:
Design Thinking
Computational Thinking
Systems Thinking

Practiced using Sphero and ipad in small groups of 3-4
Increasing speed = further distance because of velocity
Purpose: why use sphero? Connect its relation to real world/industry

Wait = length of time ball rolls in direction set previously
Stop = ball fully stops to allow for the sharp turn/angle

What is Swift? Easy to use, Interactive, Powerful, Open-source

Building lessons/tutorials

Swift Playgrounds (Lou and Michelle)

Before using spheros, need to have a foundation so don’t use as a starting point for kids.
Suits students between 11-15 years of age.
Moving beyond block based coding, lots of primary schools using Scratch
Swift playgrounds sits in between block based programming and XCode - app depth

What app would you create if you could create an app?

Coding language is unpacked through learning to code 1 module
Common language
Do learning to code 1 before trying ‘challenges’
Accessories - more games to try
Accessibility tool - turn on speaker/voice for sound for kids with poor English/low reading
age (settings, general, accessibility, speak selection and speak screen)

Learn to Code 1&2 Teacher Guide:
45 hrs of lessons

Macarena example
Who knows a dance?
How is this related to functions and loops?
Look at important vocab - put up on wall to display
Get kids to write up what they think word means

Startups with Sara (Girl Geek Academy)

Startups are about growth, scalable solutions - very big user audience e.g. airbnb,
instagram etc

Hacker - person who can code, engineer (computational thinking)
Hipster - Make things look good (design thinking)
Hustler - Make things happen, makes sure business can flourish, (systems thinking)

These qualities fit into the digital technology part of the Australian curriculum. In NZ there
is more of a focus on computational thinking and design thinking (I think)

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Apple Women Leading Learning: Coding Summer School

I was given the amazing opportunity to attend the Apple Women Leading Learning:
Coding Summer School in Sydney during the School holidays. I applied sometime during
March of 2017. I received confirmation that I had been accepted at the end of Term 3 of
2017. This was an exciting opportunity to find out more about coding with Swift Playgrounds.

I arrived in Sydney on Tuesday 16th January 2018. I met with my roommate Sylvie from
Ormiston Junior College in Auckland. Apparently there were only 4 women from NZ
attending and the rest were teachers from across Australia. That evening the entire group
met for the first time at the Apple Headquarters in Sydney. We also got the chance to
meet with the amazing women involved in organising this event. A few key people from
Apple delivered a presentation about Apple products and talked about how students are
being taught how to code and create apps. Later in the evening we all got the chance to
mix and mingle and meet all the other teachers who were invited to be part of this program.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Final Reflection SPARK MIT Inquiry 2017

This year I have been privileged to have been a member of the SPARK MIT 2017 group. Last year when I wrote my proposal for the SPARK MIT programme I initially thought that I would focus on using coding as a platform for improving critical thinking skills for my Year 7 & 8 Extension students. Little did I know that my inquiry would take a different direction at the time.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet with Anne Sinclair who is an education specialist. Anne introduced me to the idea of the Paideia method and Paideia seminars. Prior to this I hadn’t even heard of this concept before. I had heard about deep dialogic conversations though. I soon realised that this was a big part of the Paideia method of teaching and learning.

I was still keen to develop coding skills for my senior extension group, so I enlisted the help of Zoe from OMGTech. We focused on using the ‘Scratch’ programme to code as I thought that it would make sense to start off with something that was manageable for the students and myself. We set a goal of small groups of students creating a game with three different levels on Scratch. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to achieve this by the end of Term 1, but we did with help from Zoe. I was extremely proud of this achievement.

In term one, my Year 5 & 6 extension students were introduced to the idea of the Paideia method and Mrs Sinclair. We set goals for these students and informed them that their first Paideia seminar would be held at the end of the term. Along the way students were expected to conduct research based on the topic of ‘Pollution’ and present their findings in the form of a DLO (Digital Learning Object). They also practiced having Paideia style conversations and learnt how to express themselves verbally. Scaffolding their learning based on the Paideia method was really important at this stage.

The first Paideia seminar was held at the end of term one. The results were mixed and interesting. The seminar was filmed and analysed based on a SOLO framework. I had a fairly good idea how the seminar went as I had witnessed it firsthand, however after viewing the footage and analysing it, the results were worse than I had expected. One student had dominated the conversations far too much. Around 5 students barely contributed anything to the discussions and one student didn’t say anything at all. There was also little piggy backing, or building off the ideas of others.

New goals were set for the Year 5 & 6 Extension group after the results were shared with them. At least we could clearly identify the students who needed to participate more. As for the Year 7 & 8 Extension group, I decided that they would continue to use Scratch to code to consolidate their learning. The focus was still on creating a game, but adding on extra elements to make it more difficult and interesting.

By the end of term two, the year 5 & 6 extension students had participated in their second Paideia seminar. They also held their very own mini-production in the hall in front of the whole school. With some help from Anne Sinclair and myself the students had created their own scripts, soundtracks, dances, songs and backdrops for the production. What was amazing was that this was the first time ever that a production of that scale was fully scripted, created and performed by students. The students had plenty to talk about during the second Paideia seminar as the idea of ‘collaboration’ and ‘technology’ were two of the main themes.

The Year 7 & 8 group created their mini games on Scratch. By this stage it was clear which students had become quite skilled at using this coding programme and the few who still struggled a bit. The students were given the task of working on the ‘Beat the Goalie’ game which is set at level four of the draft technology curriculum. Most students were able to achieve at this level which was great to see.

In term three the Year 7 & 8 Extension group continued to work with Scratch but also had the extra element of working with Makey Makey kits. Their task was to create in small groups, either a game show, band or game for people with disabilities. The students enjoyed using the Makey Makey kits and their knowledge of using Scratch made this task very manageable for most students. This group also presented two workshops at this years GEGNZ student summit at Ormiston Primary.

In the third Paideia Seminar, the results showed that at least 13 out of 18 students had made an improvement in their critical thinking skills compared to the term one results which was fantastic. There are still four students who still need to shift out of the unistructural stage of SOLO. One student had not moved from the multistructural stage all year as well. Overall I am very proud of the results and can’t wait until the final Paideia Seminar.

On the last day of term three I received an email to advise me that I had been accepted into the Apple 'Women Leading Learning: Coding Summer Camp' which will be held in Sydney in January next year. I will join a group of around 50 women from Australia and NZ to take part in a three day workshop learning how to use Swift Playgrounds to teach coding to students. This is an amazing opportunity that I know I only received because of my focus on teaching coding this year. It’s amazing where a pathway may lead and the opportunities that it opens up. For myself personally this is so awesome because I get to learn about something that I am interesting in developing my own personal skills in. I will become more skilled at teaching others and I get the chance to travel overseas and meet other like minded people, which is something that I don’t do very often.

In term four I am hoping that my students get to really show off what they have learnt this year. I have kept the tasks quite simple as it is such a short term and I need to collect data quite early on this term in order to complete the academic awards list. The year 7 & 8s had to create a soundtrack on Garageband, create an original song and a short animation. They also had to demonstrate their skills combining Scratch and Makey Makey.

Overall it was a privilege to be part of this years SPARK MIT group. I'm proud of what I achieved and acknowledge that I had some great mentors in the form of Anne Sinclair, Zoe from OMGTech, Dorothy Burt, Lynne Le Gros and others to help me develop new skills and knowledge this year.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Term 4 Paideia Practice with Y5&6 Extension group

Y5&6 Paideia practice Term 4 2017 from SchoolTV on Vimeo.

This terms theme is 'Musical Madness' with a focus on music and making music. The year 5 and 6 extension group practiced their thinking, speaking and listening skills through a Paideia practice session. They were encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions as well as piggy back off the ideas of others.

Most students participated well. Compared to Term 1, the students have a better understanding of how to be considerate of others, and how to wait for others to share their ideas especially if they have already spoken. Most are now more confident to share and express themselves during the group discussion. They are more focused and now put more thought into their answers. I am really proud with how far they have come.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

OMGTech Workshops @ PES

Today we had an electronic and Makey Makey workshop with Kawana from OMGTech. He came with a group of 4 volunteer workers from Microsoft. They were here to run three one hour workshops with our Extension students.

First Session: Year 7 & 8 Extension group. The first lesson was a quick lesson about electricity, circuits and how they work. Kawana used the example of minions and how they eat bananas to get energy as a way of describing how a circuit works. I think this was a great way to explain something in a way that our students would understand. The students got to create their own mini torch using cardboard, and LED light, electrical tape and tape. This was a neat way to put the concept of a circuit into practice. As our extension group have been using the Scratch programme throughout the year they were very familiar with using Scratch to code. They were only introduced to Makey Makey kits last term, but quickly worked together to create buttons using the kits and playdough to create sounds.

Second Session: Year 5 & 6 Extn group. This was a bright bunch of students. A few had quite a good understanding of how circuits work and what makes good conductors and insulators of electricity. The enjoyed the mini torch making task. Most students had used Scratch before to code, but did not have any experience with the Makey Makeys.

Third Session: Year 3 & 4 Extn group. This group needs more experience with using Scratch and Makey Makey to get the most out of the workshop. They loved making the mini torches though. At the end of each session, the students were asked to complete a survey about the workshop. Most students agreed that the workshops were a lot of fun and that they learnt something new. This was a great experience for our students. Kawana is a great teacher and his delivery of the lessons were easy to understand, fun and interesting. I would definitely like to run workshops again like this for our students.

OMGTech workshops mini LED and Makey Makey from SchoolTV on Vimeo.

Year 7 & 8 Extn Projects using Scratch and Makey Makey

In Term 3 the Year 7 & 8 Extension students had to work in small groups of 3-4 on a project. Each group had to use 'Scratch' and 'Makey Makey' kits to create one of 3 projects:

1. Band
2. Game Show
3. Game controls for people with physical disabilities

Here are snippets of highlights from their presentations.

Y7&8 Extn projects Term 3 2017 from SchoolTV on Vimeo.