Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Darn the tech ... a wee warning for my GTP students

Last time a group of GTP students came for some training the school network failed. I wrote about it here. It was a good lesson in about tech failures. I now have another lesson!

Picture from http://chennai.olx.in 

Last week my new (8 week old) laptop died. This is the third time a laptop has died on me (not counting the one I dropped a book on and smashed the screen). The mini lecture I received this morning from an ICT chap was not helpful. He must have repeated reasons why I should back up regularly about 5 times in the space of 5 minutes. This put my back up. I bit my tongue, switched off and politely said thank you when he had got to the end of his reprimand. I could have told him that most of my important stuff is stored online now, but to be honest I couldn't be arsed to have a conversation.

I feel mildly frustrated that some IWB resources that I had prepared for the students has been lost, but it's not the end of the world. My digital leaders want to be involved in helping the students with smart and promethean boards. Fortunately I had created a document in drive with ICT resources, which would also show the benefits of collaboration through gdocs, and of course this hasn't been lost. These are good teaching points.

I like writing my plans, it suits my thought processes . I'm not sure why it is different to writing on the computer, but it is. I have tried using popplet to create plans similar to my written ones, but can't sustain them and they are harder to annotate. If my plans are for me, then I have decided that it doesn't matter that they are written anyway. So now the only computer based ones are my maths plans and weekly overviews. My mantle planning could not be followed by anyone else (though people are always welcome to look at it), so there is no point storing it on our school network. I can be quite minimalist with my plans and think that planning to far ahead is counter-productive, especially for maths. I often end up adding resources and ideas retrospectively, but I rarely return to them so am unsure why I do this.

ICT has undergone a significant change in schools. It is no longer seen as a discrete lesson, but more as a tool to support learning. We make choices every day about the best tools for the job and how we should not just be using tech for the sake of it, so surely this is the same for our planning?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Taking the bull by the horns: The proposed computing curriculum

Quick link to the computing doc for those who don't want to read this post!

We were very fortunate at Roydon Primary to have a forward-thinking head who embraced ICT innovations. Although some may have described him as a bit of a maverick, he took risks that paid off and encouraged us to do the same. Because of this we managed to keep abreast of ICT developments and indeed were innovative in things such as our use of class blogging in 2007. His commitment to developments meant regular in-house training and lots of trips to Bett and other conferences to see how we could apply new ideas to our curriculum.
Although our new headteacher confesses to be a technophobe, she has embraced our passion for technology by saying yes to my iPad request and fully supporting outreach and digital leader work. For that I am most grateful.

This post is not just a thank you to our school leaders, it is setting a context for the environment I work in. Our teachers embrace change. They take the bull by the horns because they feel supported and are not patronised.

That said, when I first looked at the computing document I was concerned that even the teachers at Roydon may be a little 'freaked out' by the language. ICT is very well embedded in our school (and I truly believe that if we had devoted time to it we would have gained the ICT mark a long while ago), but I know that words like 'algorithm' would cause concern, so I decided to put together a document to show what we are already doing in school to cover it.

When I started adding ideas I thought how they could be helpful to others. I then considered how a lot of people in my twitter PLN could contribute and if I made this an open document that could potentially help many teachers. So that's what I did: added it to the digital leader network blog, tweeted it out, asked specific people with expertise ( e,g. @MBerry and @eslweb) to contribute ideas and Bob's your uncle - a document with crowd sourced ideas to help you deliver the new computing curriculum started growing. As always I am inspired by my PLN and their commitment to helping others.

 This new curriculum really isn't scary! It's a positive thing for ICT. We can keep using technology as we always have done - as another learning tool - whilst making sure that the area that many teachers avoid (in my experience from outreach work) is covered. Clever! Although the creative element of ICT isn't specified at KS1/2, it may be because it is taken for granted that it happens throughout the curriculum. Now what I aim to do is to get schools to employ digital leaders to support computing in schools. Why is it important? Maybe this video will explain.

If you find the computing document useful, please let me know. If you have an idea that is not already there-please add it! Huge thanks to everyone who has contributed already! 

Related reading

 Please do check out Ant's fantastic blog post 'Coding, computer science and ipads' not only because he shares most of my opinions, but because he writes them so much more eloquently (and in more detail too!) Don't be put off if you don't have ipads -the post is much more than that and shows some great PC resources too.

Pete Yeomens (@ethinking) and Mile Berry (@mberry) have both written posts about the 'National Curriculum Consultation' and 'The New Computing Curriculum'. Pete as always has muddied my thinking (in a good way) and has made me take more time over the wording in my response to the computing curriculum.

You can read about some of my favourite free ICT resources in previous posts.

Apologies for my poor grammar.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The DLN Naace nomination

It was with mixed feelings that I received nominations for the Naace impact award last year. It felt a bit undeserved as the Digital Leader Network blog is very much a collaborative effort. It would not be so successful without the time and effort that other teachers and digital leaders have put in. The people who kindly nominated me were very generous with their praise and encouraged me that this would be a positive thing for everyone involved in the DLN, so I filled in the form and said why the 'DLN' deserved an award.

I would never take credit for other people's work - I hate it when others do it - and have always been careful to acknowledge sources of inspiration. Finding out that I had been shortlisted renewed the mixed feelings I had before. Being in the same category as Chris Mayoh is difficult as he was the person who inspired me to get started with digital leaders in the first place. I wish him the best of luck - I truly believe that he deserves more than an impact award! 

I have however submitted a short film and would be proud to receive an award on behalf of all the other people, including Chris, who have contributed to the blog's success. Please excuse my Norfolk twang - I am a country bumpkin, but not quite as simple as I sound!

Take a look at the Naace Impact Awards shortlist for all shortlisted nominations. Some of my good tweeting friends, like Anthony Evans and Julia Skinner have been recognised for their hard work and contribution to the world of ICT.