Earlier this summer I had the pleasure of attending the CAS (Computing At School) conference held at Stranmillis College, Belfast. (You can watch Simon Humphreys CAS Coordinator as he describes in detail what CAS is and how it works.) The community of practice approach he speaks about echoes much of what we in CESI are familiar with. HOWEVER, there is one significant difference when it comes to context – computing is on the curriculum for every child from Key Stage One onwards.
I have to say it felt like being at a CESI conference. The learning that the teachers were engaged in was very much to improve what they could offer in the classroom to their students of all ages. Following a keynote session with David Gregory which involved us making the LEGO duck (remember Excited 2014?) a CAS schedule offered experiences pertinent to KS1 up to KS4 students. The emphasis was hands on – learn as your students learn – and it was great fun.
Making choices about what to go to is always the most difficult part of these occasions. I opted for Code Club Scratch Workshop and was introduced to the concept which encourages teachers to run a Code Club in school with guidelines and supports available at www.codeclub.org.uk While the target audience is 9-11 year olds, I think it could have a broader appeal. Una McDermott is the Northern Ireland Coordinator and delivered the session with great enthusiasm and encouragement.
An hour is not a great deal of time in which to develop an app but William Artt certainly met the challenge with humour and success using jQuery Mobile.
You may be aware that the BBC produced the microbit, which was distributed free to Year 7 students throughout the UK with a view to getting students coding. They are also available to schools to buy on a ‘not for profit’ basis. I had heard about the microbit and had seen others use them but I thoroughly enjoyed getting the LED lights doing what I wanted using MicroPython. Ann O’Neill took us through our paces and few wanted to leave when the workshop was over.
I would like to thank Dr. Irene Bell and her team for a wonderful day of learning – both formal and informal.