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?
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.
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.
I'm writing this post for a few reasons, but mostly its because I need to express my excitement about the future of my school.
It should be obvious to anyone who has reached this website, that I work at Yass High. In case you didn't, I'll quickly enlighten you. It's a small rural school (around 480 students) about an hour's drive North of Canberra, the capital of Australia. I am part of the Technology and applied sciences (TAS) faculty, and currently teach computing from years 9-12.
The school experienced quite an event in late 2012, that affected me as much as the students - the TAS building burnt down. Right to the ground. Investigations later revealed electrical faults from 60-year old wiring leading to sparks, and well it just got worse from there. Metalwork, woodwork, textiles, cooking and my beloved computing lab were gone over night. I included some pictures taken by the local newspaper below for your benefit. There are more available from the Yass Tribune here.
As difficult as it was to lose those classrooms, computers and resources for the school, as well as working from temporary setups for what will be about two years, there is extremely wonderful news.
After what seemed like endless negotiations and stellar performances from the Principal of Yass High, and various community members, the school was not only promised the funds to replace and upgrade what was lost, but double the size of the building to cater to 6 new learning spaces!
So what's new?
The bottom floor will remain strictly TAS oriented - with industry trade standard facilities being built for Hospitality, Metalwork and Woodwork. Modern new learning plans will be implemented for food tech, textiles and my computer lab are on the way too. I was especially proud to be able to have input on the physical nature and construction of my future classroom - how many teachers get to say that?!
Then comes the spectacular stuff - through the vigorous rallying described above, a whole new floor will be built above. This will house a new staff room and 6 new classrooms with four of them capable of expanding into a massive open learning space. I am thoroughly looking forward to teaching in the new computer lab, but I am additionally so keen to be part of the open-plan learning environment, that I'm heading a new course ready to be implemented next year that is specifically designed to make use of the facility.
I've included some blueprints below, as well as clip I made of the future appearance of the school using SketchUp.
The bottom floor, while difficult to make out, is full of all the latest, well, everything. Ergonomic computer desks, trade standard construction workshops, enormous cooking benches and plenty of material storage.
The top floor (shown below) just entices learning! Student centred desks, high laptop seating, no walls, drama stage and connected classrooms.
When Purple Zeus first went live, I was please with the immediate response and support from ICT and computing educators through my own personal learning network, and the network of my employer. Above all else, effective feedback was provided that improved some of my own teaching and lesson plans instantly.
After only a few days active, the website was also featured in the Sydney Regional ICT Newsletter for the DEC. The feature not only promoted the website and brought more visitors from other statewide ICT coordinators, but it helped me build yet another connection to educators. Notably, a connection to the ICT coordinator or coordinators. As a (still relatively) new teachers, this admittedly made me quite proud. It served as yet another reminder of the importance in learning of effective feedback to students.
I have provided a copy of the newsletter below, and you can visit the website here. On top of the latest news around the DEC, it also contains multiple access to resources and other links to like minded teachers.
A Computing teacher with a passion for collaboration and open source teaching.