Friday, June 7, 2013

The transition from ICT to computing

The draft computing curriculum caused a big stir. To me, that in itself is an achievement. It's got us all talking, thinking and debating the issues. I like change; I like to feel that I'm moving and learning, though I do recognise that this may be because I'm still relatively new to the profession. As a mature student I have only been qualified for 11 years (though have taught for longer in a special school setting). In 11 years I have moved classrooms 3 times and taught all ages in ks1 and 2. It's good to know where children come from and where they are going. How does this relate to the new computing curriculum? I am a teacher and a life long learner. I recognise that new things will come along that challenge me. I am competitive enough to not want to be in the dark about something new so do my best to embrace change and 'carry on learning'.

Having said that, I also know that technological changes are easier for someone who likes to play with (and occasionally break) ICT. I have said before that for some teachers asking them to learn computing would be like asking me to teach geography using the Polish language. It's too much. On twitter last night there were some thought provoking tweets about this subject. Consider how in no other area of the curriculum would teachers be expected to teach themselves a new subject. The government doesn't seem to be putting in the money to support training either. @DigitalMaverick quoted how teachers would need to be retrained for c. £135 a head. Food for thought? It seems that a lot of problem solving will need to be done. 

Luckily, one of my strengths (so I have been told) is my ability to problem solve. So the problem is the new curriculum, the solution is to simplify it and make it accessible for all. When this curriculum 'appeared' one of the first things I did was to start this crowd sourced computing doc in google drive. The power of twitter has been proven again with the amount of (notable) people who have contributed some great ideas and free web resources to it. 

Doing my bit

 Regular readers will know how we are very fortunate to have iPads in school. They have already made the transition to computing a lot easier. Because I have had positive experiences I am keen to share these with others. So here's what I have done. I hosted two cluster programming events for infants and had a computing morning in class in March. Teachers were invited along to the events to see how quickly the children can pick up new skills - and share them with others. My mini digital leaders helped at both these events too and it was like having extra hands!  By the end of the session the children and adults all knew what an algorithm is - and that it's not a scary word!

A few weeks ago I was invited to a SMT meeting at another school  to share my ideas about progression in computing. The response was huge relief and new found confidence from the staff that they would be able to do this - and do it well. I should point out that they have access to ipads too, though they each said that they would choose a new web based resource that I recommended to learn over the summer. 

This term I have also delivered workshops with my digital leaders to support teachers to use computing resources such as scratch, kodu and Mozilla Thimble and Hackasaurus. It is essential that teachers get this time to play so that they are confident to teach. It is also necessary to overcome the idea that computing is dull and for secondary experts. There are lots of great resources that are free on the internet and computing does not always mean working with or developing an expertise in code. I get by with my limited skills - and I am clear about my limits. I tried the html workshop at GTAUK and did a runner after 10 minutes. It was way over my head!

Doing a little bit more 

On June 22nd I will be providing three Mozilla Hackasaurus workshops at a teachmeet in Norwich. During the teachmeet I will also be showing progression in computing from EYFS to year 6 on an ipad, in seven minutes (hopefully!) Hopefully there will be many more events like this that teachers can come to and learn/play with others in a 'safe' environment. Yes teachmeets mean giving up your own time, but we do that anyway don't we when we plan on a Sunday or catch up with reading in the evenings. 

Creating an overview

As a point of reference I have started to put together a very basic progression in computing document that will serve as an overview for Roydon Primary next year. It needed to be simple for teachers to follow, so that they will use it, so it just uses 'pointers' rather than lengthy descriptions of each tool. Where the tools are used in the curriculum is up to the teachers and hopefully they will be written into their subject overviews. Once finished, I will share an editable version so that it can be adapted for any school setting. 

The computing document is accompanied by another that I have called 'digital literacy'. I have explained my thinking about this in the document and am really just trying to keep it simple. Other folk have put together some great ICT plans and I don't want to reinvent any wheels, I just want to create an overview that will point teachers in the right direction. It is what the staff at Roydon appreciate - they don't want to be bamboozled by lots of words on the page. I will add links to more thorough planning available on the internet for anyone who needs help with it.

Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated!