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glenn66
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 4:06 pm
Location: Belfast
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Re: Getting Teachers Onboard (UK)

Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:03 pm

Varies - I'm in Northern Ireland and Y7 is the last year of primary so 10/11 year olds while Y8 is the first year of secondary so 11/12 year olds. We don't have bumping up or down here any more.

Scotland is I believe slightly different again.

I have seen a small, but enthusiastic number of kids in their last year of primary school programming in Scratch. I would have reservations about using Python in primary school, but as always I remain open-minded and would be interested in seeing how that goes.

misnerspace
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:10 am

Re: Getting Teachers Onboard (UK)

Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:10 am

I am a physics and computer science teacher at a US international school. We have been teaching programming at our school for the last seven years or so, so it is possible. This is the curriculum we currently have:

Elementary students: Scratch, Logo (we also have a Lego Mindstorms robotics club)
Middle school students: Python. We're currently toying with the idea of introducing Greenfoot. Trials so far have been pretty successful, especially as I have a Kinetic device which Greenfoot can interface with.
High school students: AP Computer Science (using BlueJ). This is the oldest running course and has been very successful. We are also about to start an Arduino club and are looking into running a VEX robotics club for the high school students.

I am really looking forward to the Raspberry Pi! Hopefully we will be able to integrate it into our curriculum.

antiloquax
Posts: 406
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:37 am
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Re: Getting Teachers Onboard (UK)

Sat Dec 03, 2011 8:44 am

Hi,
I had the first "information" meeting for my new programming club at school yesterday. Six students came along (3 girls, 3 boys). Their ages were about 14 to 16. They seemed quite keen. I showed them some Python stuff on my laptop and we talked about the RP. I have a colleague involved who is quite experienced with programming.
I'm going to make my priority getting them started quickly with some basics and then looking at making games with Pygame. I'm also interested in Java, but so far I haven't gone any further than getting jdk set up on my Linux box.
I have set up a little blog here:
Start Programming
This first "tutorial" is extremely simplistic, but I tried to make it fool-proof. I'd love it if members on here had a chance to look at this and comment.
As well as the gaming side, I'm thinking of doing some "hack your homework" stuff. My son is 11 and we were talking about a program that did mean, mode and median. I haven't started coding this yet, but it should be fun. (By the way, I only started learning Python a couple of weeks ago!)
mark

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glenn66
Posts: 55
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Location: Belfast
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Re: Getting Teachers Onboard (UK)

Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:27 am

Looks interesting. I've had Python/Idle on my Windows laptop for a while and never really used it much, but I'll follow your blog and see how I get on.

I'm still going to promote Gambas2 as an alternative for exam courses becuase of its proximity to VB, which love it or loathe it is what most ICT teachers are familiar with, but I can see the sense in switching to Python in time.

tufty
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Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:32 pm

Re: Getting Teachers Onboard (UK)

Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:43 am

Quote from glenn66 on December 5, 2011, 00:27
Looks interesting. I've had Python/Idle on my Windows laptop for a while and never really used it much, but I'll follow your blog and see how I get on.
Do. It's fun.

I'm still going to promote Gambas2 as an alternative for exam courses becuase of its proximity to VB, which love it or loathe it is what most ICT teachers are familiar with, but I can see the sense in switching to Python in time.
The problem with that, as I see it, is that the VB/ICT "comfort zone" is all to do with ICT and *not* to do with computer science. It might allow "less motivated"[1] teachers to get up and running faster, but only *if* they are pushed to do so. That push, sadly, doesn't look like it's gonna come down from on high, which means that the driving force is going to be motivated teachers like yourself, and, with a bit of luck, those "higher up the food chain" who can be swayed to provide some support.

Keeping programming fun is vital, IMO, and anything that's even close to "scripting your spreadsheet" or "accessing a database" is orthogonal to fun. Even for me.

Simon

[1] I was going to add something along the lines of "if you're not willing to learn, you're not fit to teach", but I'll desist. I know how hard it is to find time to do stuff that's outside the school workload, let alone trying to find time to put something together that's intended to go in under the radar and off the curriculum.

antiloquax
Posts: 406
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Re: Getting Teachers Onboard (UK)

Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:09 pm

I think teachers should model the passion for learning they want to see in their students. I am enjoying learning Python - when it's fun it doesn't seem like work!

thesynapseuk
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:21 am

Re: Getting Teachers Onboard (UK)

Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:49 pm

I think if some really good CPD was put together then it would make all the difference. As stated above, teachers simply do not have time to learn anything new because of all the rubbish that we have to deal with, and that's mainly from the system in my view rather than poor behaviour of the kids (although this of course varies). But good CPD (of which there is VERY little!) could give the confidence boost and resources that teachers need/want to get started.

The pressure on changing the curriculum is absolutely key. If it becomes a teacher's job to teach something then they will have no choice but to learn it! People (many of them teachers!) forget that this is often expected within certain subjects such as History (specialist in ancient history? Who cares? You're teaching world war 2 now!) or Science (I'm a Biology specialist, but I have to be able to teach the other 2 sciences - particularly Chemistry - to GCSE level). Curriculum changes and you have to revert from being a specialist at degree level to a generalist regardless of subject I would say.

Also remember that most ICT teachers are bored to death themselves by the subject they have to teach. Would you like to teach wall-to-wall MS Office and print-screening ALL DAY EVERY DAY?!

The key thing here is also to focus on the secondary school (ages 11-18 in England) space. There is a lot of really good stuff happening in primary schools, but there's a vast black hole after that.

For the record I'm a Science teacher ages 11-18 (Biology specialist 16-18) in London. My interest in the R-Pi is in learning programming myself, teaching it to others, and promoting games design as a subject amongst school kids.

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