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
teaching and learning

Computer Science “Hinterland” Book

Prompted by this post by Tom Sherrington on Twitter and after much discourse about Cultural Capital and its importance in raising attainment of disadvantaged pupils, I got to thinking… maybe I could pull together a “Hinterland of Computing” book to assist teachers and curious students alike understand the history, implications and future of the fascinating topic of Computer Science. 

So I have started. This blog post will evolve and may be followed up by others, but it’s a starting point for my thoughts on the subject. I really need lots of help, so comment below or on my Twitter feed if you have anything to contribute.

I see this being completed in the Summer of 2020 so hopefully published by Christmas 2020, but that may change as I have not published a book before 🙂

My plan is to write a chapter on each topic, based on typical GCSE specifications. In each chapter I would discuss the history of the topic, with interesting stories, discuss the current status and how real-world experiences link to the topic, cross-curricular links and cross-topic links, then cover the future direction, implications and ethical issues, and finish with some inspiration for the classroom, suggested lesson plans and further reading.

For example, the topic on Systems Security might discuss the history of Cryptography from the Caesar Cipher to Elliptic Curve, stories of computer viruses from Creeper to WannaCry, why passwords are the worst way to authenticate yourself (apart from all the others). Everything will link back to GCSE specs and be clear on what students need to know, but the reader will now have lots of background knowledge with which to illuminate the content and hopefully make lessons more interesting, and pass on that Cultural Capital we are all now aware is so important.

Please let me know if you want to help, feedback is very welcome. I’m gathering background reading at the moment so post comments below or message me on Twitter thanks!

Categories
behaviour teaching and learning Uncategorized

Loyalty Card for positive behaviour management

I took this idea from my teaching coach, and I’ve started trying it this week. Basically they get a stamp for a good lesson. Targets are on the form, all three must be met for a stamp. Lesson 1 today saw around one-third of the class get a stamp, but they all wanted one, so maybe lesson 2 will be different! Feel free to adapt and share onwards with no restrictions.  Download link is below. NB the headphones mentioned are from Poundland, don’t tell the kids! 🙂 loyaltycardimage

loyalty card v1

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?