EU Code Week

The past week in school has been really good, really busy, but really good. We’ve had parent teacher interviews, a book fair, a leaving assembly for our Principal and a staff lunch on Friday. It’s also been EU Code Week.

I’ve thought for about 6 months that we need to get coding and programming into school more. So over the Summer when I heard about EU Code Week I thought that would be the perfect lauchpad for our pupils and staff to get involved in.

I researched and downloaded apps that I thought would be useful for our pupils to use to get started and then I made up a plan of what EU Code Week would look like in school.

All pupils would complete an Hour of Code over the week, using iPads as they are the most accessible with 4 per class.
Pupils would be involved in using programmable devices like Beebots and drones.
We would get iTeach in deliver some sessions on Coding and Programming with our KS2 students (bringing the drone).
A special assembly would be held with a visitor, Amy, a systems analyst in the civil service would come in and talk to us about her job and allow the children to ask questions. This is especially good as our girls can see that IT jobs can be done by women as well as men.

As a school we were very fortunate to get a grant from Google to help us run our Code Week Activities.

I made some handouts for the teachers to show how Coding and Programming fits in with the NI Curriculum and also an Overview of the Apps that they could choose from. If you’d like to use them I have put them onto google drive so you can access them by clicking on the links embedded above, just please say where you got them from. They were done quite quickly on the iPad so be kind if you spot any typos.  They’ve certainly been helpful to our staff.

Its safe to say that EU Code Week in school was a success.  The students loved it, the teachers were surprised by how engaged they all were, even some of our normally hard to motivate P7 boys loved it.  Foundation Stage loved that it was applicable for them and easy to take down to a suitable level for their classes.  Two Primary Two boys even managed to complete the game The Foos, which they were so proud of.  The lessons with Michael from iTeach were fantastic and really sparked the KS2 pupils imaginations.  I took both P1 classes for a short session for 4 days of the week and they loved playing the games and really got the concepts quickly.  It got the point where they were excited to see me coming! The week ended with the visit from Amy and all of the learning of the week was reflected in how good and well thought through the pupils questions were.  While we got the obvious “Did you make {Insert game name here}?” We also got questions like, how do you make a game? What is the best thing you’ve made? What do you like most about your job? How do you stop people hacking into things using code? What code languages do you use to make websites? I think Amy was impressed – I know I was.

EU Code Week might be over today, but our integration of coding and programming in school is not.  Tomorrow afternoon is the second meeting of the Code Club that I’ve set up in school working with Scratch and I know that P1 are planning on using programmable devices in maths next week (because I have lent them my beebot!) P7 are continuing on with Hopscotch and I’m sure the coding and programming apps will be kept on the iPads for a while yet.  Coding and Programming is definitely here to stay.

Sylvia Duckworth – hero of sketchnoting – has made this, illustrating Brian Aspinall‘s  thoughts. I love her sketchnote style but this is one of my favourites.

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Fangirling

One of my many hats in school is as a member of the ICT team. I am most people’s go to person when the computer disconnects from the laptop, when the sound doesn’t work or if they can’t print to the photocopier. I’m also the person who looks after the iPads. To the point that I’ve dubbed myself iPad coordinator, which the principal is happy with because it is exactly what I do in school. I coordinate the iPads.

I have to admit now, I like technology but I particularly like Apple technology. I have an ancient macbook, a slightly less ancient iPhone 4s and an iPad 2 that I share with my sister (which lives in her house). I think it makes sense once you get to grips with one type of operating system you stick with it. I have bought into Apple. I like Apple because it’s straightforward to use and easy once you make the transition from PC to Mac. I use a school laptop in work so it’s not Apple, but I’m definitely not as fast on it as I am on my MacBook.

I’ve blogged before about how I love a wee course. I enjoy learning and I like researching and finding out about new initiatives and new ways of doing things in school.

A lot of the time I use Twitter to find out how other people do things in their classrooms. I’ve built up a wee personal learning network that inspires and encourages me to try new things. Another thing I never pass up the chance to go to is a course. Today I went to a course on Coding and Programming in the Classroom run by iTeach. I’ve been to one other iTeach course, one for ICT coordinators on using iPads. We’ve had iTeach into school quite a bit to do training and help with special iPad weeks. I also follow a few of the iTeach people we’ve had in on Twitter. The training, advice and support from iTeach is really good, but this blog isn’t an advert for them. Honestly.

Today at the course Patrick from iTeach called me a fangirl. At first I thought this wasn’t a very nice label to end up with but actually I think it’s quite a good thing.

If I’m a fangirl that means I’m up to date – I’m keeping in touch with current things happening in educational technology, I’m at least on the curve of where I need to be and where my school needs to be.

If I’m a fangirl I’m clued in – I know the terminology, I know what people are talking about and I can join in the conversations around my subject and add to what’s going on.

If I’m a fangirl – I’m in the club. I’ve got links with other fangirls and fanboys and we can support, encourage and inspire each other. We can keep each other current and clued in.

So I’m taking fangirl. I’m saying that it’s a positive thing. I’m quite happy to be a fangirl when it comes to making a difference to teaching and learning through iPads and other edtech. I’ll take advice and training on that whenever it’s going. It sort of echoes Rachel Jones claiming teacher geek as a positive term.

So yeah Patrick,

Fangirl and proud!

🙂