Never mind the PowerPoint

Have you asked a question like this on teacher social media?

Has anyone got a PowerPoint for binary addition? They just aren’t getting it.

I need a decent lesson for client server versus peer to peer.

Any resources for boolean logic? I can’t seem to get them to understand it.

When I see these questions I do try to help, but I believe those asking would be better off working on their explanation of the concept. Once you have a strong grasp of the topic, you can explain it well, answer questions, and check for understanding meaningfully.

Teaching is simple, really, if we remember we are just trying to transfer knowledge from our heads to theirs. Looking for lesson resources that shortcut this process is a distracting, often futile enterprise. The time spent looking for that “magic lesson” could be better spent growing your own understanding so you can develop theirs.

Fortunately we now have the NCCE curriculum backed by the Oak Academy recorded lessons, so we can teach ourselves before teaching our students. I also recommend Craig’n’Dave videos and the Isaac Computer Science website, and the great textbooks by Heathcote & Heathcote. Better still, partake of the NCCE training offers.

Once you know it yourself, and feel confident you know it, you can explain the material in ways others understand.

Rather than asking for slides and worksheets, I recommend teaching yourself the content. Then study others explaining it well.

My forthcoming book might help with greater understanding of the GCSE Computer Science content. Comments welcome here on WordPress, on Twitter or on LinkedIn.


Core and hinterland: What’s what and why it matters

Reblog from Adam Boxer, this explains my use of the word Hinterland in the context of my forthcoming book.

In 1918, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to a war criminal. In the early years of the 20th century, German scientist Fritz Haber developed a process to artificially synthesise ammonia, a vital component of agricultural fertilisers. A reaction that changed the world, his process drove a ballooning in industrial agriculture and, with the […]

Core and hinterland: What’s what and why it matters
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!