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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Get into Teaching Computing

This month sees the end of an era as the current year 11 leave school to prepare for their final examinations, which frees up time for me to start concentrating on my KS3 curriculum based on the new program of study for September 2013. I'll be attending a DfE meeting in Manchester in June to discuss new schemes of work and resources, so I'm hoping to go fully equipped with some ideas!

I've also been helping a GTP student in my department and a PGCE student over the last hurdle before gaining their QTS. I love working with new teachers as they are so inspiring. They've already given me an idea for a better Databases unit for Year 8. I love this time of year, it's so exciting, and I'm bursting with ideas.

Many computer science graduates may be thinking about now of going into teaching Computing/ICT. The DfE have started a great blog to help encourage them to do so, with real life experiences of trainees, newly qualified teachers, and people like me.

Check out my Get into Teaching Guest blog post.

If you are thinking about teaching I say DO IT! It's a great time for the subject and you can be part of the development of it. You get to be part of a hugely experienced group of brilliant people (especially if you are on twitter!) and you get to unlock the creativity and imagination of young people on a daily basis.

Come join the madness!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

CAS #include Launch Party

It feels weird to say that CAS #include, a working sub group of the Computing At School Organisation, formed to highlight and discuss ways to improve the uptake of Computer science by minority groups such as girls or SEN students, was launched Monday evening at BCS London. It's weird for me because I've been working with Laura Dixon, and originally Samantha Bail, since the start of the idea 9 months ago. Since then we've formed a working committee, I've become Vice Chair, we've published a newsletter, created a wiki, created a website, I've made some robot logos, and we have been helping Laura to organise a workshop day at her school in June. Oh yeah, and we've organised a launch party! Hope everyone enjoyed buffet selection no. 5, because I'm certain we spent three meetings on this alone :)

Like everything I'm involved in there is a certain amount of panic involved prior to the event. Not helped by having to teach a full day, and then get into town carrying loads of stuff. I was pleased to see Rebecca, Dawn and Laura when I arrived although not Reena who could not join the rest of us at BCS (You were missed!). Dawn brought balloons, OCR brought massive banners that did not even fit in a room, I brought the Little Box of Geek, what else says 'party time with Computing teachers'?

Our Visual Minutes from the entire evening created by @CreativeConnec

The evening went according to plan with Laura giving a heartfelt introduction to the busy 9 months we have experienced plus our goals and aims going forward. Kate Russell gave one of the best keynotes I've ever heard about her journey into the world of tech. Ever since I met Kate at a Girl Geek Dinner months ago she has been nothing but supportive of Geek Gurl Diaries and CAS #include. Not many people give up their time on a Monday evening to support teachers. Thank you so much!

The CAS #include team, speakers and some guests

Next up, Amy Morris from Sheffield Hallam University spoke about her study of why girls are not engaged by ICT lessons, and gave some advice, about getting role models into schools and forming clubs. I also ran a panel discussion with Nicki Maddams (who I've been dying to meet for ages) AST Computing at Hartsdown Academy and author of Geek Barbie's Travels, Phillip Bryant OCR Qualifications Manager for ICT and Computing, Dan Bowen ICT/Computing learning and teaching adviser Surrey, and working committee member for CAS #include, who mentioned that the first time he ever met me was at the infamous Raspberry Jam where I was heckled (will I ever shake that story off or will it always come back to haunt me?)

We discussed the issues of running "girls only clubs" whether this might actually alienate girls from regular run clubs, if highlighting the issue of under-representation of girls was doing more harm than good, if the new curriculum and exam specifications were being designed to be 'gender neutral', if it was just a minority of teachers trying to do something to engage all students, how to engage other minority groups, and so on. Eventually I handed questions over to the floor which I think was fun even if that was not clear in the live stream (you should have come to the event!)

By half 7 I was starving, and buffet selection number 5 was calling to me. Laura thanked all our speakers and we handed over to eating, networking, and the interactive displays around the room. Chris Roffey from Coding Club brought some laptops and his fantastic Python books for kids, which I use to create activities for both my Geek Gurl Diaries videos and lessons. Andrew Robinson creator of PiFace brought his talking chicken. Alex Bradbury from Raspberry Pi demonstrated the Sonic Pi scheme of work I have been developing with Sam Aaron at Cambridge University (see previous posts). 

Networking was fun as I got to meet Anne Marie from @Stemettes and Anna from @Science_Grrl both doing great work getting girls into STEM subjects. There is so much great stuff going on right now for teachers to check out.

Next big event: #define the workshop day for all make sure you get your tickets here. It was really odd to see the logos I designed for this event printed onto big boards. I love our robots. I think we need a competition to name them tho... thoughts?