CESI•CS community of practice national meetings

Background

The CESI•CS community of practice focusses on computing education at all levels and is a collaboration with education centres throughout Ireland through ESCI ( the association of Education Support Centres in Ireland formerly ATECI) and Trinity College Dublin, kick-started by generous financial support from Google.

In 2017 CESI welcomed the announcement of the intended introduction of Computer Science as a Leaving Certificate Subject. Members are also involved in the Junior Cycle Short Course in Coding, some are developing Computational Thinking in Primary and there is representation from third level too.

Fifty-seven face-to-face meetings of CESI•CS groups have taken place in local education centres from December 2017 to May 2019, to establish relationships and share experience with educators at all levels interested in developments in Computer Science. Two symposia have been held, in September 2017 and September 2019, to discuss related issues and three national workshops have been organised in June 2018 and June 2019 to work in depth.

September 2017 Maynooth Symposium

Participants were invited to discuss CESI’s response to the proposed leaving certificate in Computer Science. Outcomes informed the response submitted.

June 2018 Laois National Workshop

In the Laois education Centre, CESI organised six workshops, each four hours, some repeated:

Morning

Afternoon

Session

Facilitator

Session

Facilitator

2 App Inventor workshop Julie Power 2 App Inventor workshop Julie Power
3 LC CS ALT 4 on embedded systems with BBC Micro:bit and Python John Hegarty 3 LC CS ALT 4 on embedded systems with BBC Micro:bit and Python John Hegarty
5 Databases through Google sheets Richard Millwood 1 Introducing Coding with iOS (iPad) Thomas Creighton de Farias and Tadgh O’Connell
4 Investigating International Curriculum Development in Coding Tony Riley 6 The theory in Leaving Certificate CS Richard Millwood and Peadar Harvey

Participants really enjoyed the sessions and it was hard to send them home at 5pm on a Saturday!

June 2019 Waterford National Workshop

In Waterford Teachers’ Centre, the aim was to tackle a challenge related to the introduction of computing. The challenge may have been connected with personal competence, level-specific or cross-levels and cross-curricular. Each three hour workshop session was intended to satisfy a need to work in collaboration, either to learn a new skill or to achieve some outcome related to pedagogy, assessment or the curriculum.

1. MicroBlocks and Micro:bit

Facilitated by John Hegarty, Clongowes

Find out about MicroBlocks and how to use it with Micro:bit to:
• use built in sensors
• log data and copy to spreadsheet to play with.
• link to external components – LEDs, small motors, etc
The aim would be to give folk a chance to play with stuff they might not have access to and discuss with others how they might use with their students.

2. App Inventor workshop

Facilitated by Julie Power, Lero

This hands-on workshop provides an introduction to App Inventor. It is designed to address the learning needs of teachers who wish to introduce mobile app development in their classroom. The workshop will also be an opportunity for teachers to build a community of practice in the App Inventor area.​  If possible, please bring an Android phone/tablet for testing.

3. Computational Thinking made visible

Paul Behan, as himself!

Begins with pen and paper and a grid; breaks down the activity into CT processes; relates each CT process to an automated version. Then create the beginning of a bridge from thinking to computational thinking.

4. Establishing your own Code Club

Facilitated by Darren Bayliss, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Darren will showcase Code Club, the resources, training etc offered to all educators across Ireland through the RaspberryPi Foundation and invite participants to role play the organisation of a code club in the workshop.

5. Coding with Scratch in cross-curricular projects using MakeyMakey

Facilitated by Ben Cochain, Cork Educate Together Secondary School

In this session, we will look at how block coding with Scratch can be integrated with little to no previous knowledge in other subjects such as music, geography or MFL to name a few. In the first part of the session, we will look at different examples:
– how recycled materials can be used to make new musical instruments,
– how to make a 3D interactive map of the past, present and future of a city,
– how to make a Spanish translating game.
In the second part of the session, we will co-create a lesson in the subject of your choice using MakeyMakey to design and build an interactive tool controlled by a programme coded in Scratch.
This hands-on session is aimed at the CESI CS community members willing to create a link and empower their fellow teachers having no experience in coding in using technology in their classrooms. It is based on the experience of running the @MakersInSchools project with the help of Make Create Innovate and PDST Tech in Ed.

6. Turtlestitch – programming through embroidery

Facilitated by Richard Millwood, Trinity College Dublin

This workshop will offer substantial time to use Turtlestitch to make embroideries and then design a card to give learners to follow step-by-step in order to get started to create their own embroidery.

June 2019 Monaghan National Workshop

Following the same pattern as in Waterford a week earlier, some of the same sessions were repeated, although the offering matched demand by participants.

1. MicroBlocks and Micro:bit

Facilitated by John Hegarty, Clongowes

Find out about MicroBlocks and how to use it with Micro:bit to:
• use built in sensors
• log data and copy to spreadsheet to play with.
• link to external components – LEDs, small motors, etc
The aim would be to give folk a chance to play with stuff they might not have access to and discuss with others how they might use with their students.

2. App Inventor workshop

Facilitated by Natasha Kiely, Limerick Institute of Technology

This hands-on workshop provides an introduction to App Inventor. It is designed to address the learning needs of teachers who wish to introduce mobile app development in their classroom. The workshop will also be an opportunity for teachers to build a community of practice in the App Inventor area.​ If possible, please bring an Android phone/tablet for testing.

3. Threshold concepts in electronics, computing and programming

Facilitated by Mags Amond and Tony Riley, as themselves!

Mags and Tony will introduce practical and concrete ways to learn about threshold concepts of electronic circuits, binary representation, communications technology and computational thinking for participants to contribute their ideas, develop their own confidence and consider ways of teaching such concepts.

4. Establishing your own Code Club

Facilitated by Darren Bayliss, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Darren will showcase Code Club, the resources, training etc offered to all educators across Ireland through the RaspberryPi Foundation and invite participants to role play the organisation of a code club in the workshop.

5. Teaching programming

Facilitated by Richard Millwood, Trinity College Dublin

English expert Jane Waite proposes there is a continuum of ways to teach programming from copying code, targeted tasks, shared programming, guided exploration, projects to tinkering. This session will explore each of these by trying them out in practice on each other and then discussing the place of each in a strategy to develop programming competence in learners. For preparation, read this blog by Jane.

September 2019 Dublin West Symposium

Held in Dublin West Education Centre, participants at this meeting were inspired and informed by Seamus Knox from the Department of Education and Skills, who explained the context of the curriculum development in the Leaving Certificate in Computer Science and showed its place amongst other initiatives.

This was followed by panel to update participnts on developments so far. This was chaired by Adrienne Webb and comprised of:

  • Úna Fleming to discuss the Junior Cycle Short Course in Coding,
  • Tony Riley on the Coding in Primary Schools work at NCCA,
  • Paul Behan on the pilot for the Leaving Certificate Computer Science and
  • Richard Millwood to explain the recent history of the  CESI•CS community of practice.

Finally Adrienne Webb and Richard Millwood launched the new Facilitator’s Guide for volunteers to organise a local group, and all participants discussed how they might advise CESI in going forward and how particularly it might continue with CESI•CS communities of practice.

Richard Millwood, 29 June 2019 uodated 13 October 2019

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About the Author

Richard Millwood

Facilitator of CESI•CS - the community of practice for educational computing in Ireland and Visiting Research Fellow, CRITE, Trinity College Dublin