What is it?
It is solving problems. That's pretty much it. More specifically, it means breaking down the problem into a list of required steps solve it accurately and efficiently. Just because it has the word computer in the title doesn't mean we can't be talking about solving a maths problem, or constructing a cooking recipe.
How am I promoting it?
On a computer. Sorry, but I'm a computing teacher so that's what I work with. But please don't let that discourage you. Currently, I'm encouraging my students with my own real passion for coding and building. I do this with a variety of products including LittleBits, Minecraft, MakeyMakey, Arduinos, Scratch, Visual Basic, Python and Robotics. All will involve some aspect of getting students to solve a range of problems to within specific criteria of expectation levels.
My next endeavours will involve the implementation of open source coding onto Raspberry Pi devices into the year eleven course starting next year. This, coupled with some additional work in Python, will hopefully lead students to want to experiment with their physical hardware devices on a more advanced level.
I want to incorporate more computational thinking. What should I do?
Over the last term, I've been doing a lot of cycling. This is nothing new. I've cycled before, and always enjoyed it. The difference this time is my decision to integrate technology into the sport.
Upon recommendations from friends and family, I signed up to Strava - a cloud based data tracking system for cyclists. Sounds nerdy right? Well it probably is, but it's also become one of the most motivating reasons to get out there each and every day and enjoy an active lifestyle. The app which I click on and off at the beginning and end of each ride tracks distance, time, route and even the elevation profile of the course I rode. It allows me to monitor progress, set goals and analyse future paths, as well as follow other cyclists. The interest and energy with which I now enjoy cycling, even when I'm not actually on the bike, is enormous. Some screenshots and an example of a heat map provided by a cyclist blogger is shown below to demonstrate some of the cool tools available.
It got me thinking about the application of technology in the classroom. So long as its done right, a simple (and boring sounding) task like data analysis can become amazingly engaging. Rather than analyse data we've taken from the net, why not get the kids outside, go for a long walk, run or ride and then get them to analyse the data each time? This would have the added advantage of getting students outside but also provided a meaningful method of integrating both technology and numeracy into the classroom.
I'm healthier than I was at the start of the term now, largely thanks to Strava. There are obviously thousands of Apps in existence where similar processes can be applied - EasyDietDiary (a food/nutrition intake analyser), and MotionX (a sleep monitor) are some that comes to mind, but the point is we should never stop trying to integrate technology into the classroom, and we must move away from the obvious tools like Google and Wikipedia. I'm sure there is already an App available that would be better suited to many lessons you will one day need to teach.
In order to garner interest for my learning area, I often try different things to promote the type of learning that would be experienced. It's a struggle I constantly face, what can I do to get more kids interested in computing? Below is a video I've created for this year as I try to develop the course Information and Software Technology for 2016.
A few weeks ago, the new building at Yass High opened. It has been a wonderful experience teaching in such as lavish and beautiful environment. A link to a Storify I created that documented the construction is available here. I've included a couple of pictures below, but it was a remarkable journey to get here.
I just received my final marks for my Masters, and I have now finished! After three years and twelve gruelling subjects, I will graduate at the end of this year with a Masters in Applied Finance.
Why did I bother? Because it was interesting. The subjects may have been tough, and the teaching strategies employed by uni lecturers often leave a lot to be desired, but I really found the whole investigation of finance fascinating.
Where to go now?
Why encourage making? Makers will help shape the future, so we need to encourage students to build and create!
After attending the ICTENSW conference last week, I have been inspired to implement MakerSpace into the classroom at my school. Thanks to some generous individuals at the conference, I walked away with not only a plan on how to implement MakerSpace, but some physical devices to support the immediate implementation!
Some of the items, I intend on supporting were not all at the conference, but the point is MakerSpace right? I should adventure out and establish my own MakerSpace and the let the kids help me to evolve it. I already had a few things I personally owned or had gained prior approval for, before the MakerSpace concept had reached me, so I'll be able to fall back on my Mindstorms robots and Rasperry Pi, but to be greedy, I want more!
Not only do I want to implement MakerSpace to support the students at school, I want to play in MakerSpace. What better time to implement than right now, as we prepare to move into the most innovation-inspiring workplace environment at school. The #YHSRebuild is due for completion in the next few weeks, and we should be ready and teaching in the new building next term.
.... I know there's more stuff, so if you have anything to suggest, please just let me know!
At my school, a 20 minute reading session is mandatory every day for all students years 7-12, with one day off for sport. As a technology teacher, it doesn't often seem to fall on me to inspire students to read more, but I still love doing it anyway.
I don't pretend to be some hugely avid reader that ploughs through three books a week, or even a diverse reader who will happily jump from one genre to the next. I have my cliques. I love action stories and comedy stories, as well as those books based on scientific advancement or understanding. Little else ever really interests me. When I was at school, the thought of a mandatory 20min reading block would have led to several eye rolls. it was quite common for me to get through the entire year without reading a single book. Cliff notes were my friends during these times. On occasion, I'd catch a break, and manage to see the movie version and simply ask a friend what they key differences from the book where. This was my experience with reading for much of my life under the age of 25.
A Computing teacher with a passion for collaboration and open source teaching.