ICT in my classroom

I started this weekend in a strange way, I didn’t bolt down the A9, didn’t turn on the TV or games console but instead I participated in the flash meet and watched Teachmeet09 @BETT and since then my head has been spinning.

I enjoy working with computers, I spend lots of my time in front of them, talking about them and even fixing them but all these great new technologies I haven’t really embraced in my classroom. I’ve never really seen how I could use them either.

I would now like to try and fix this. In the morning I am going to set up my class twitter account, I will then have the pupils in my senior classes do the same.

I am where possible going to use this to enable my pupils to work and discuss topics that have come up during lessons in and out of the classroom.

The idea of having a back channel up while teaching doesn’t really scare me, I know in other schools it could be an issue but with the pupils I am working with this will not be a problem.

The other thing I am going to try is to issue a quick mobile phone quiz for the pupils. I got this idea from Joe Dale’s blog and came up with a few (11) questions in order to test this out.

My aim is to test these out over the next week and see how I get on. If it proves successful I’ll continue it, if not I’ll revise it and try again.

I also have another tool to play about with – an IR pen. This along with a Wiimote will hopefully give me an interactive Wiiboard for my computer. Should this work their will be pictures.

Also – Must remember to follow up on the Cool Wall post from before with a picture of it.

To finish off I really enjoyed the Teachmeet on Friday, so much so I’m now looking forward to attending my first one in person in February down in the borders.

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Digital Games Design

We’ve been back at school now for almost 3 days and I’ve shocked myself, I’ve not set up the department Wii yet. Even more shocking, I’ve not played Guitar Hero on it this year.

I’m starting to think carefully about the digital gaming course I am running with 2 classes and have been inspired again by reading some of the consolarium blogs.

One of the activities in the course is to create a level for a computer game, my first thought for this came from the compednet forums for computing teachers and that was to use Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Wii to do this but now there are other ideas coming into my head. The pupils could create their own song for Guitar Hero for others to complete, create a whole world in Little Big Planet (Thanks to Derek for that idea).

I almost shelled out for a PS3 to see if this would be a good idea, I also quite fancied playing the new call of duty but eventually came to my senses and saved my money – until I found a camera I liked but thats another story.

Can anyone think of any other games about to create levels?

My other purchase over the holidays was a Nintendo DS, Which has given me other ideas. I’m going to poll the S4 games class and try to get them to bring it in next week for a competition.

End of term fun

Well it’s nearing the end of another year and term, August doesn’t seem so long ago.

On Friday I was given a suggestion to have a charity guitar hero event which was a nice way to spend the morning. The pupils were given a choice of 5 songs to practice on and then a final song which could earn them house points. The most popular choice for the junior school was “Livin’ on a prayer”

First thing in the morning The Wii and projector was set up in the school’s main hall for the first session before moving up to the HE room.

We had 48 pupils take part during the course of the day but the best response came from the first and second years.

The winning house for S1 and 2 was Maree and the winers in S3 and 4 were Kerry.

The Cool Wall

Today I’m starting an experiment, On the back wall of my classroom I’ve set up a technology cool wall and I challenged my senior and first year pupils to bring in some new gadgets/technology to put up on it and so far the pupils seem exited about it.

I’ve used the same headings as in the Top Gear Coolwall – Seriously Uncool, Uncool, Cool Sub Zero and the DB9 Fridge. We’ve now had the first 4 entries onto the wall and we now have one in all but the DB9 Fridge (Cooler than Sub Zero).

The S1 will be doing this later on today (Some of them seem really excited about their gadgets) as well so I plan to put up a list of entries to the wall as soon as I can.

The hope for the wall is that it gets the pupils curious and interested in new technology.

The future of assessments

I spent today at a cpd session from the SQA at Dingwall Academy. This gave me my first opportunity to see another school in the highlands and give my throat a day off (there’s quite a bad throat bug going around here).

The course was split into two sections the first on E-assessment (SOLAR) and the second was on E-portfolios and skills for life. Now both of these look like very good systems but from a computing standpoint I was more impressed with the SOLAR system (couldn’t resist).

The tutorial we had today gave me a chance to look at the assessment for the Intermediate 2 Internet Safety topic which is the first course to only be tested using SOLAR. The interface was very clear and it gives the teacher control over the test and best of all… No Printing Required!

Pupils are given a unique code which they need to enter and it will give them access to the but the test will not be accessible until the teacher/tutor enters their pin to start the assessment.

The drawbacks to the program – to access the system computers must have the latest flash installed and it’s not known if and how it would work on the MACs, I’ll need to test that in the morning. The other slight flaw was that it doesn’t automatically link to the SQA to generate qualifications, these still need to be done manually by centres.

I’d like to see this being implemented for NABs in the future, this would work well for all computing courses.

Software Development

It’s coursework time of year again, I sat in last night, watched the football and took a look at the new intermediate 2 software development coursework.

My advanced higher pupil has told me that I’m much more focused on the documentation than the pupils were previously used to so I really took my time on that part. It made creating the final program so much easier

I started by creating the structure diagram and used an online tool called Gliffy to complete this. This is a great tool I’ve been using for a while now and I’ve found it to be a very powerful piece of kit.

Now I should say that the last time I really undertook programming properly was in 2006 during my probation year but I didn’t go much above the credit level. What I’ve done with it this year is to get it out of the way as quickly as possible with the S3 pupils, the S4 have finished it now as well.

Now that I’m happy with the credit/int2 level it’s time to turn my attention to the higher materials. I’m aiming to complete the higher coursework next week.

This is the one topic I’ve not been involved with at higher level and at the moment I am relying on the textbook and the LTS Scotland notes to get me through (Not the most dynamic lessons) but I would like to hear how other computing teachers deliver this topic to mixed level classes.