Computing Podcasts–Year 11–2017 Exam

Now that it’s exam season, all teachers are thinking about ways in which they can help their students achieve their potential. Over the bank holiday weekend, I decided to go through old mark schemes and look at explanations for particular topics and to make some podcasts. In my year 11 lesson last week, I asked my students if they all had smart phones. 90% of my students said that they had a smart phone. I asked them if they had access to sound cloud or itunes. Again my students said that they had access to this. I decided that I would go through all of the topics that they’re studying and record some podcasts which they would be able to listen to on the way to their exam in the morning. All of my Computing GCSE students now have access to these.

Here are some of the Podcasts for those of you interested in Computing

How did I do this?

Once I had downloaded all of the old mark schemes for the subject, I installed a piece of software called audacity. It is free and you can find it here > http://www.audacityteam.org/ . The software installs really easily and all you need to do is press the red record button at the top of the screen.

Once you have pressed this record button, you’ll see your sound in the window below. You should see all of the analogue sound waves as shown in the picture below.

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Once you have finished with the sound, you simply go to the File> Export Audio button from the menu at the top.

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Choose MP3 from the list below and you will have a file that is now compatible.

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Moving it to SoundCloud

Go to soundcloud.com and register an account. Once you have clicked on sign up and you have created a number of different MP3 files for your students to listen to on the way to their exam. You can upload multiple files to soundcloud.com. Click on the Upload link at the top of your screen.

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This will give you a brand new page that you will be taken to. Click on the Choose file to upload link.

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You should now be able to highlight and select multiple MP3 files from your computer.

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Once you’ve selected all of the MP3’s that you would like in your playlist. Click the open button.

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This gives you a playlist screen. Fill out the details and scroll down to the save button.

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Once you’ve pushed the save button, you will be given a link which you can share with your students. They can also look for you on soundcloud and have access to all of the MP3 recordings for their GCSE.

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Teaching Stress–How do we cope?

I have always loved teaching and I will say that there isn’t a better profession to get into. It has great holidays, you build relationships with students that will last a life time and you learn something different every day. You are able to build character and you also become stronger as a person. That being said, there is a lot of press about teachers being overworked, stressed out and there have been some articles recently that have shone a negative light on teaching.

I’m hopefully going to share some of my own personal experience on teaching. I think that people see that I have won awards and assume that teaching has been ‘easy’ for me. It hasn’t come without it’s hiccups. I have had to learn how to manage my lifestyle around my job. When I manage it well, I get great results and it has minimal impact on my life. I want to give you some tips on managing your work load with relationships.

Relationships

IMG_0606One of the things which came out in an article recently was that relationships become strained and some teachers find it hard to settle down and get a family dude to finding that balance. I can agree with this 100%. Before I got married, I was in a long distance relationship and it was quite easy to manage my workload. I would simple turn off the computer and that would be me for the evening and I would get work done. I would turn on or turn off my relationship.

Unfortunately, after I got married this couldn’t continue. Me and my wife had to learn. Teaching is a life style and you’re either built for it or you’re not. My wife saw my passion for teaching and was more understanding but we realised that we had to work together and work at things in order to get the best out of our job and our relationship.

In terms of dealing with relationships, the only way we worked through this was by communicating. The way I manage my work load with my relationship now is that we have a shared calendar on our phones and also on the wall on display. My wife understands that I need down time and we discuss and if possible, I will arrange chill out time with friends a month in advanced so that my wife knows when I’m going to be home and when we can plan time together.

This calendar is on full view in my house and I know some of my friends think it’s a little strange that I will message them a month in advanced to hang out but it makes things easier for us. You can see from my calendar for April that I also teach Irish Dance classes and have this time on the calendar. My wife now knows that my Monday’s, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are time where I will make sure we have time together. My wife can also see that Friday’s are planned TV nights. If I want to fill up my Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with hanging out with friends, I’ll discuss things with her. If I’m going to spend my evening doing lots of marking, I’ll add it to the calendar.

Like I said, I’m not going to sugar coat it. I love my job but we’ve had to work at our relationship. If you’re going into teaching, make sure you give yourself a calendar and discipline yourself and you will enjoy life. This is what I do and it helps me. I’m giving you this advice because I’m a little sick of seeing people talking about teaching but not actually talking about how to handle things. It is because that I have this time management in place that I’m able to come up with or spend time to get ideas to make lessons more engaging.

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VTA Summit Day 1

pic1Due to making the top 10 of the Global Teacher Prize, I was invited to attend the Varkey Teacher Amabassadors Leadership Summit. It was hosted at the GEMS National Academy in Dubai. We started off our day with a warm welcome and an introduction to the week to come.  It was a great morning and as we gathered in the reception, it also gave me time to connect with the other teachers who are in the top 10. You can see one of these in the picture.

We received a very warm welcome from Vikas Pota who explained that we are the leaders of the future. He talked about the importance of teachers in education and gave every teacher in the conference a very big round of applause. It was so humbling and nice to see such positive things being said about education. While at the VTA Summit we started the day with a number of sessions aimed at helping us be advocates for Education. In some countries there is a negative attitude towards teachers and they’re seen as ‘second rate’ jobs. Many people do not see it as a profession. I’m very pleased with the Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammad and Sunny Varkey for what they’re doing.

Morning Sessions: –

pic5In the morning we looked at developing and sharing a vision for the Varkey Teacher Ambassadors. We want to promote the need for teachers and the importance. We are change-makers and we discussed issues that we have around this. One teacher talked about their difficulties in establishing global connections due to their ‘internet connection’. We talked about how we could address this and tweets were sent out and teachers are now going to give their school postal addresses so that his students can be enabled.

We also had the opportunity to meet Sunny Varkey. He was a very warm gentlemen to meet and he talked about the importance of teachers. He also talked about how we are the scaffolding and architects of the future. It was great to see his passion come through as he had a discussion with teachers about how they can promote the need of teachers globally. 

We also interacted and talked about the media. Teachers aren’t portrayed in a positive light by some of the media and it’s important that we have a voice. Sheetal Adhvaryu explains that we have a right to say no. If we think that we’re going to step into territory that we’re unsure of, remember that it’s ok to say no. We had a discussion and I reminded teachers that they should stick to what they know. If something doesn’t feel right, if someone is trying to give us direction with our students (media / press) – Remember that you know your students best.

Afternoon Sessions: –

globalIn the afternoon we were split into break out sessions where teachers shared their vision of creating a global citizen. In our group, we discussed the ways in which we could help create ‘science’ global citizens. How do we enable teachers and students to take their lessons global. How can we help them with their communication. There was a lot of valuable discussion about the importance in making things more accessible. One area that we all agreed on is there there needs to be direction for teachers who have never thought about enabling global citizenship. You can find out more about this in the next couple of days.

Evening Session: –

pic4At the end of our afternoon sessions the Varkey Foundation created a team building exercise called the amazing race. Teachers were encouraged to talk to someone who they have never spoke to before. I was very fortunate enough to meet up with 3 teachers. These teachers were Lisa Parasi from the United States, Janet Hayward from the United Kingdom and Andrew NChessie from Malawi. We had a great time and had to take as many ‘selfies’ as possible around Dubai. We were given a number of challenges. It was quite funny. I ended up being the ‘tallest’ person in most of the pictures. We were also able to look at the city in a bit more depth. I made some amazing connections and I know that these guys will be friends for life.

Thank you Ruler Sheikh Mohammad and Sunny Varkey for this opportunity. I would also like to thank the team at the Varkey Foundation for everything that they have done so far in the organisation of this amazing summit.

Posted in Computer Science, Computing, global teacher prize, innovative teaching, new ideas teachers, teaching, varkey foundation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tips for NQT’s

Recently I was fortunate enough to deliver an NQT training session at my school. I was honoured to be able to share with so many enthused teachers. We had a good catch up about challenges we face with technology and we also talked about how technology could apply to different subjects. This post aims to share with teachers different tools which could influence their teaching. These are tools which can be useful in any situation.

Standards: –

In the U.K we have many teaching standards which we must meet to become a teacher. When looking at technology I feel that these three areas can be assigned.

•Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment

•Make accurate and productive use of assessment

•Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils

To summarise how each of these standards are applicable to technology I’m going to give you a few examples. Over the years I’ve spoken to many teachers who have talked about some of the challenges that they face on trying to get students to behave. When technology is used in an immersive way, it can help engage pupils. When your pupils are engaged and participating in your lesson, they’re less likely to misbehave. Not to mention, if you teach your students how to use technology effectively, they’re going to behave better online and become better digital citizens.

Making accurate and productive use of assessment can be addressed in a number of ways. There are tools available such as Plickers which allow you to give each of your students are QR code. They can hold this QR code up to the rest of the class and you scan the class with your phone. Upon scanning the room, you can instantly assess whether your class has understood something without giving away ‘who’ didn’t understand it. It helps create a safe learning environment.

Setting high expectations is also addressable through technology due to the challenge and pace you can set through technology. You can create videos to inspire and motivate your students. You can create resources and make them freely available at ease. You can record your lessons as you deliver them and students can revisit them later on.

Tools

Microsoft Office: –

Cap1I first started showing teachers tools that are freely available if you have Microsoft Office. If you use the internet and install ‘Office Mix’ it has an add in that allows you to record your presentation as you deliver it. This is the tool that I use for my own lesson. If you visit www.youtube.com/mrraychambers you will see many video tutorials of my own lessons. I use Office mix and I go to the office mix tab and create presentations and videos that my students can use for flipped learning tasks.

Speech tools – Do you have students who struggle to read? Did you know that you can go to File > Options > Ribbon and if you go down to speak. You can add this to your tool bar. Now, whenever you email a word document to your student, they just need to highlight the text and then press the play button. It will read out the text to them out loud and they can also use this for proof reading.

 

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Present Online – Many schools struggle to get funding for tools that allow you to send your screen to your students. Did you realise that you can press the button present online in PowerPoint and this will create a link that you can email your students. Many people do not realise that it’s there! You email this link and your students can view your presentation through the internet browser. Students can access all of your content and you can even use it as a behaviour management tool. You don’t need to stand at the front of your class to present because you can see what you’re talking about on every screen in the classroom.

Plickers: –

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Plickers is a great tool for classroom engagement and it avoids that whole ‘hands up rule’. Everyone is expected to participate. You install the app on your phone or tablet to begin with. This can be found in the app store. Each student is given a unique ‘QR’ code. You can see examples of this in the picture on the left. You can create a login for yourself at plickers.com. You create a bank of questions really easily online and once they’re there you’re set for the rest of your classes. You give the students their card from 1 to 30. You can copy whole class lists into it.

From your tablet or phone, you select the question you want. Then all students hold up the QR code as either A,B,C,D . They tilt it in the direction they want to answer the question in. Once you have done this you push a button on your phone and scan the class really quickly. It recognises the answers and tells you the percentage of students that have the answer correct / incorrect and you can fill in the gaps. You can reveal the students who have got it wrong (if you wish). I prefer to make them anonymous and I address these students later.

Makey Makey: –

MakeyMakey

Makey Makey is a tool which will cost you roughly £40 to buy brand new. It is a great tool! I recommended this piece of kit to Computer Science and Music teachers. The kit works by connecting crocodile clips up to an electronic arduino board.  You can then go onto something simple like scratch and program it to do things based on the keys the board represents. These are keys such as ‘up’,’down’,’left’,’right’ or space etc… There are extension opportunities on the board.

Once you have connected them up, the students can use any conducting material. I’ve used water, bananas and other fruit. Alternatively you can use tin foil and cover objects.

One area where this has been really effective has been design technology. I approached design technology teachers in school and said that they could use a Makey Makey kit in order to get their students designing game controllers. You can teach students about anthropometrics and ergonomics by getting the students to make it.

 

Songsmith: –   

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Songsmith is a tool that is predominantly for music teachers but when you’re using it you can relate it to other subjects. You record yourself singing and it detects the sound of your voice and the key. Once you’ve done this it creates a song with a backing tract which you can go and use for your lessons. I’ve seen english teachers use this to help students write songs about shakespeare. I’ve used this to get my students making songs about difficult topics. It helps them remember it.

You can get your students to record revision rhymes!

 

Answer Garden: –

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One of the last tools that I spoke about was answergarden.ch It is a great way of getting your class to collaborate if you are using tablets, computers or mobile devices. You go onto answergarden.ch and type in a question. Press the generate button and it generates a cloud. The students have a link that they access and they keep typing in words that they can think of relating to the previous lesson. You can moderate these to make sure that students do not type in anything inappropriate. Once you’re happy with the results, you can reveal them to the class.

This is great for English teachers who are trying to get their students to discuss tone or emotion of material that they’re covering.

 

 

Summing Up: –

In summary, these are just a number of tools that you can use to make your classroom a little more ‘innovative’. I would say, use the tool because it works for you. If you try something and it doesn’t work, then try something else. We need to be reflective in our approach to teaching and if we use technology for the ‘sake’ of it, then we’re not going to get the best from our pupils.

I hope that this has been useful to you and the best of luck with trying these new tools.

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Teaching Tools for Computer Science

Over the last couple of months I have been fortunate enough to use a number of tools in my classroom and I’m here to talk to you about the effectiveness of these tools. When teaching computer science, you need to be careful about giving your students ‘death by powerpoint’ . If you can encourage students to collaborate and if you can use a number of different tools, it is possible to keep it ‘fresh’.

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Makey Makey

Makey Makey is a cool piece of technology that allows you to connect a number of different items to your computer. It then works like a keyboard. This can then be connected to your program that you make. You can do this using scratch or unity. It comes with instructions. You simply plug it into your computer, connect it to a conductive material and you can create your own game controllers. This is great for design technology and you can create some amazing ergonomic controllers. It also allows students to program specific items on the keyboard. You can find out more at www.makeymakey.com . It is possible to recalibrate the controller by going to https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/makey-makey-advanced-guide .

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 CodeShare.io

This is a great tool that allows you to get students doing paired programming. When you log your students into the website, they simply share the address with their friends via email. It’s a great tool for collaboration and it allows them to write code which can then be pasted into their friends compiler. I love using this with students and it’s a great way for me to share what I’m doing with them. They can see my code on their screen. Well worth a punt.

 

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StrikeApp.com

This is a great tool that allows students working on group tasks. You are able to get them to create lists for themselves or they can create a list for the group. While they’re in a lesson working on a task, they can tick off tasks which they have completed. When the user refreshes the list, it shows who has completed a task and they can continue working on the topic.

 

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Awwapp.com

This app allows students to work on a canvas at the same time. You can have your students collaborating and drawing the CPU together. You could have your students collaborating and drawing the network topologies together. The good thing about it is that if you’re using it with a tablet. They can go away and they can be more accurate with their picture instead of using a mouse. If you’re using the interactive whiteboard, you can control another students work and you can draw on their slide for feedback.

 

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Linux Live Usb

http://www.linuxliveusb.com/en/home This is a great website which will help you give your students some insight into other operating systems. You can build a USB and boot to it. This will allow you to use your regular PC’s in school. Students can boot from the USB and they can get a taste of Linux or Unix. It’s a great way of showing your students the command line within both operating systems.

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Draw.io

Draw.io is a website that allows you to create network diagrams online. You can save your work as an XML file or as a JPEG and you can then insert the files into documents on your computer. Each student can search for computers, servers and cables. They’re able to look up switches and routers and they’re then able to make network diagrams. I love this tool for creating topologies and network diagrams. A useful tool if you do not have the tools on your computer.

 

 

I hope that these tools may be useful to teachers and may give you some insight to ways of making computer science or other subjects engaging. Enjoy

Posted in Coding, Computer Science, Computing, Education, MakeyMakey, Programming | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 10–Global Teacher Prize

Thank you message

Now in its third year, the US $1 million award is the largest prize of its kind, and was set up to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world. 

In December, I was humbled and shocked to be invited into the top 50 of the competition. I enjoy teaching and the one thing that I like about it is that every day is different. Students may come out with a new challenge or they may have that lightbulb moment, when they fully understand something. This moment is priceless and this is what teaching is all about.

It was announced today that I had made the top 10 and all I can say is that I am absolutely shocked and a huge thank you goes out to the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammad and Sunny Varkey for highlighting the importance of teaching as a profession. It’s been an amazing opportunity and I’m looking forward to establishing networks with many new teachers. Thank you.

In a video message, Prince Harry paid tribute to the work of teachers around the world on the day the top ten finalists were announced. Prince Harry said:

“In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, the very best teachers go beyond the pages of textbooks to teach young people about determination, aspiration, resilience and compassion. We will all face setbacks and challenges in our lives and our teachers play a vital role in preparing us for these ups and downs.

“The finalists for this year’s Global Teacher Prize are from every corner of the world – from the Canadian Arctic to Kenya and Pakistan.  But there’s one thing they all have in common – they spark curiosity within a child and nurture the dreams that can change our world for the better. 

“I would like to end by congratulating all of the finalists; you are not just exceptional teachers, you are the role models who support, inspire and shape children’s lives. Your work is so important; I don’t believe it is an exaggeration to say that you are shaping the future”.

I thoroughly believe that the teachers of today are what will shape the future. We need to encourage these pupils to grow and to lead lives where they can accomplish so much more. These students are going to be the people who are around on this planet, long after us.  Being a teacher is a great way to leave a foot print. The Varkey foundation are supportive a great cause by encouraging more people to get into the profession. I love that they’re also showing the importance of teachers in society. Our pupils are what will make a difference. Wouldn’t it be great to be a part of that?

In the press, there always appears to be negative press about teachers and the workload that we have but I’m actually here to say that teaching is a profession that is rewarding in more ways than one. Although many people can criticize the practice for it’s workload, it’s important to know that this isn’t always true. I support teachers and understand where the workload can come from, but here are some tips to make things a little easier: –

  • Establish quick email lists or protocols with parents. These can be pre-written post cards which acknowledge the work that students are doing.
  • Marking – Overtime, build up slides with criteria on which allow you to write down numbers instead of the feedback. Students can record their feedback using your PowerPoint slides. When you mark their work. It’s possible to write down the number and then you can get them to write down the criteria which they should work on. This can cut down marking time – tweet me @lanky_boi_ray for more information.
  • Networking – Have regular TeachMeets with other teachers. Look at other teachers on Twitter – They share good practice and some of this can make your life a lot easier.
  • Students – Talk to your students – What is it that they find difficult? What would they like you to try for them?

I thank God each day that I fell into teaching by accident. It was my plan to be a computer programmer. After 6 weeks into a university placement, I was made redundant due to the company being taken over. This was a major blow to me and I found a last minute placement in a school as a Network technician.

I established some friendships and enjoyed my time with students at this school. Upon completion of my degree, I returned to the school and they offered me a job. I trained on the job doing a joint GTP/PGCE and ended up loving teaching. I did my training through Nottingham Trent University and I can thoroughly recommend them as a route into teaching. Alternatively, find a teaching school or an alliance. The school that I currently work in has a Brooke Weston Teaching school. There are many different routes.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, but please keep your options open. Teaching is a rewarding profession and can help you grow.

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12th Day of Christmas–Periscope

Hi Guys, I decided that I wanted a day off from blogging. I decided to catch up with friends yesterday and I went to visit a friend. Today’s tip is about a tool that you can use the night before an exam. If you email your student’s at a certain time, you can make yourself available through video feed and they can message you and ask questions. You could do a revision session from the comfort of you own office. I have done this before with students and it’s boosted my exam results by 10%. I don’t put it down to this 100% but I do consider it a factor.

I will be writing a blog about how you can use periscope with your students to stream your screen using a Google API. This will help you use your screen rather than relying on the phone.

All you need to do is download Periscope!

Periscope
Posted in Appathon, Awards, Computer Science, Computing, Education, Marking, Microsoft, NQT Training | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment