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#LEARN computing HTTCS teaching and learning Uncategorized

Two chances to win #htLEARNCS!

My new book “How to LEARN Computer Science” is out now, at Amazon and JohnCattEd, and you have a two chances to get hold of a free copy…

  1. Like and Retweet my tweet here or Like my Facebook post here or here, or my LinkedIn post here. This will enter you into the prize draw and SIX winners will receive a free copy.
  2. BOGOF! Send proof of purchase of my first book “How to Teach Computer Science” dated today or later, and I will send you a free copy of #htLEARNcs (limited to the first SIX applications).
Screenshot of Amazon web page showing book for sale "How to Learn Computer Science"
Book now available in Amazon and at the publisher John Catt Ed

I’m very excited about this book, and hope your students are too. It will be available soon on the Hachette store too, thanks to JC’s deal with them, and bulk discounts for your class will be possible. So why not get a copy for yourself now? The foreword is written by my good friends Craig Sargent and Dave Hillyard of Craig’n’Dave and I am very humbled to have had their support during the creation of the book, and their wringing endorsement on page 1.

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Thanks for your support!

Categories
#LEARN computing HTTCS

Stories, skills and superpowers

The launch of “How to LEARN Computer Science.”

The student book is being printed as we speak, and is available for pre-order on the John Catt website and on Amazon. The story of the book is told on my earlier blog post here.

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I am delighted to share that the book’s Foreword has been written by my good friends Craig’n’Dave, who have been very supportive throughout this project, and inside the book I very much recommend their products especially the course companion SmartRevise, not because they paid me (they haven’t!) but because I use it myself with great results.

The book is not a textbook nor a curriculum primer, but hopefully a riveting read for ambitious students, illuminating the topic and suggesting some stretching activities.  I have taken all the good stuff from the first book (How to Teach Computer Science, available here) that is relevant to an audience of GCSE students themselves, and added lots of new content.

Here are some highlights, I’m proud of how it turned out, see for yourself from these extracts, and pre-order at the links above.

Screenshot from PDF of the book, including the heading "Question It" and the question "Why are there so many programming languages" and 5 other questions.
Extract from Chapter 4 of “How to Learn Computer Science” available for pre-order now.
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Screenshot from LEARN book, showing some activities for students including "research real-life attacks mentioned above" and six other tasks.
Extract from Chapter 10 of htLEARNCs
Screenshot from book showing a "hinterland" story entitled "Inside the black box" about AI in hospitals, and subsequent "fertile question" prompt: "Is AI a force for good?"
Extract from Chapter 11 “Issues and Impacts” showing a “hinterland” story and subsequent “fertile question” prompt.

Currently the book is scheduled for availability on 9th Sep and costs just £12. I asked the publisher to keep the book affordable for students, and I’m glad that’s been possible. There may be bulk discounts available in time, I’ll update you on this blog if that happens.

Don’t forget, this book is the student companion to my original “How to Teach Computer Science” also available from John Catt, Amazon and all good online sellers, links available from the main page of this blog, so why not order both ready for the new school year?

If you are grateful for my work on this blog and the books I have written (remember my royalty is less than a quid of the cover price!) then feel free to show your gratitude here. Thanks!

If you are grateful for my blog, please buy me a coffee at ko-fi.com/mraharrisoncs, thanks!
Categories
computing teaching and learning

htLEARNcs. OUT THIS SEPTEMBER.

Cover Reveal…

How to LEARN Computer Science is coming soon. Publication date is set for September 1st. htLEARNcs contains all the good stuff from the first book (How to Teach Computer Science, available here) that is relevant to an audience of GCSE students themselves, and I’ve added lots of new content. You can read all about the content on my previous blog here.

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As I said earlier, I have kept the new book as faithful to the old book as possible, so teachers can use HTTCS for their own benefit, while recommending (dare I say buying 🙂 ) htLEARNcs for their students.

Teachers can set a chapter of htLEARNcs for homework, or just one of the activities each week. A few copies in the classroom could be used as “stretch” activity resources, and aspirational parents can buy it for their children.

If you are grateful for my blog, please buy me a coffee at ko-fi.com/mraharrisoncs, thanks!

I’ll keep you posted on the progress towards publication. But it’s great to see this second book coming together! If you haven’t got hold of the first book yet, it’s still just £11.55 on Amazon at time of writing.

Categories
computing

Ubiquitous classroom display post

This is not just showing off, I thought this display might be of use to other Computing teachers. The process of designing an algorithm and the ability to transform algorithms from flowchart to pseudocode to program code is vital, so I put it on my wall. Attached is the Word Doc (yes, I knoalgowallw, hardly hi-tech but it works), and the finished picture. Enjoy.

 

flowchart display

 

Categories
coaching computing teaching and learning Uncategorized

Going for Gold

The NQT support at this school is excellent, and I’m taking advantage. Not only do I have a standard induction programme including NQT mentoring and CPD but… a Senior Management Team (SMT) link person designated to me, plus optional extra CPD and coaching. The latter means I get an informal 15-minute observation and 15-minute debrief, every week. This is almost as much mentoring as I was getting last year on ITT, and it’s incredibly useful. I’m going to share some recent coaching with you.

The target this week was Learning Objectives and Outcomes. My coach, Andy – an assistant head whose subject is PE – wanted me to put more effort into designing the outcomes and sharing them with the class. Also, they must be clearly graded and I should communicate the grade of outcome to the students, with reference to their target grade. I’m not sure if it was because Andy is a sports coach or just because Rio 2012 has just ended, but I decided to place bronze, silver and gold medals on my slides and worksheets! The idea being that the bronze medal work should be achievable by all, the silver by some, and the gold by a few top-target pupils.

The topic was Decomposition and Algorithm Design. The task was to decide what makes a strong password (itself a side-learning point), decompose this problem into small steps (must be memorable but not guessable, build it up from two or three components unrelated to each other such as colour, animal and number…) and then write an algorithm to create it. I wanted them to write the algorithm in four different ways: English, Flowchart, Pseudocode and, finally, Python. With slides and an example of each on a worksheet I had plenty of scaffolding, but I thought that getting as far as Pseudocode would be a stretch in 60 minutes, so I invented a Platinum medal for the actual coding. I needn’t have bothered.

The “medal effect” as I am now calling it was amazing. Everyone wanted a Gold or Platinum medal (even though they didn’t actually exist as medals, they were purely notional!). Here is the LO slide:

los

I asked the class to decide what medal they were going to aim for. Not one said bronze! So off we went, and in under an hour, 17 of 26 had written some code to generate strong passwords. Here is a sample program, from a student targeting a GCSE grade 6. She had already written the flowchart and pseudocode…

IMAG0263.gif

I am a convert to the “medal effect”. The next stage may be to include the students in the actual target setting. Perhaps I’ll have them write the outcomes and place the medals next time?