Hour of code: Reflection

collageLast week I was fortunate enough to be invited down to London to launch the hour of code. I had a fantastic time and was honoured to
teach over 50 students at one time. The event started with some amazing talks
from some of the leading specialists in computing. They were very inspirational
and it was interesting to hear about the skills people are using in the
computing sector. Check out our image off students who took part!

It kicked off and it was all go, Gary Carr introduced the
great British code off between two students Ross and Josh. They were given
envelopes which had different topics. One example which was picked is a
treasure hunt game. These were both coded using project spark. You can find out
more about project spark by following this hyperlink. If you have played with
Kodu then it’s the next step up. It’s amazing how you can use functions. When
coding, we use something called functions to save us from repeating blocks of
code. Project spark works in a very similar way. You can create ‘brains’ for
your characters and re use them. I’m very excited about the prospected of using
this in the future.

Other events which were going on included the Kodu corner.
Nicki Cooper (formerly Madams) introduced Kodu to a group of students who were
creating some fascinating games. They picked it up really quick and ended up
with a whole library of games by the end of the event. Kudu is a free tool that
be used on to introduce basic concepts of computing to the class room. For
example, you can teach students about algorithms and simple concepts of
operators which are greater than or less than.

@OhLottie Claire Lotriet one of the authors of switched on computing
introduced computing concepts without the need for a computer. She labelled out
a sorting map on the ground and students had to sort out numbers. They worked
out an algorithm to find out the quickest way of sorting numbers. This was a
great concept and shows us that we don’t always need computers to show the
theory. Such an incredible way of showing something visually. This method is
shown in the switched on computing resources and it has even given me some
ideas for secondary teaching. I particularly like the idea of becoming a robot
and getting my students to give me instructions for solving a problem.

rayI managed to help launch the hour of code live corner. We
had 50 students with windows 8 devices learning programming using a various
host of activities. One of our first activities was the use angry birds through
the hour of code website. It introduced basic concepts of loops and repeats.
Students had to break down the problems into simple steps in order to find the
solution to the problem. The students were engaged and managed to complete the
tutorials quite quickly. It was because of this that we introduced the Touch
Develop tutorials to the students and they got through these quite quickly.
They were amazing and it was great to see engagement with programming compared
to how ICT is traditional taught. I really enjoyed this and the students
received a certificate at the end for completing the hour of code.

Once back to my school I set the parents, teachers and
students the task of completing some coding activities. It was great to see the
whole school get involved. I had emails from parents, staff and students with
pictures of their certificate. You can see from some of their faces in the
collage below that some of them are a little shy but they really enjoyed the
whole experience. One student commented that they will now be taking up the
subject for G.C.S.E. They can see where it leads and they’re not scared of the
programming anymore.

In other news, I set our app squad a goal this week of
getting 5 apps into the windows store. They collaborated with various members
of staff to come up with the requirements for their apps. They spoke to history
teachers, language teachers and computer science. After a week of app
development we have the following apps available to download from our store and
I have listed the student’s names so that you can see who has developed them.

Famous figures in history – Evan Jones

Trenches – KS3 history – Will Smith

Computer hardware – Dawid Czajka

Emily Davison Mystery – history – William Rhodes

German Sports – Desmond Weich

Learn Easy Korean – Olivia Rootham

Please download the apps and rate these apps, your feedback
and reviews are much appreciated. We have been collaborating with students in
lesson about how to improve the current version of the apps.

 Our next phase of this started on Saturday when we invited a
primary school in for a gifted and talented day of coding. This helped us
support them in coding but we’re also learning a little bit about how apps can
help primary schools. Training the primary school students to make the apps for
their schools is a huge step forward and were very happy with the growth of the
project. It will allow students in primary schools to flip their learning and
they will now start sharing their voice in their primary schools.

About Raymond David James Chambers

I am the Lead teacher of computing at Brooke Weston Academy in Corby Northamptonshire. Previously I was the head of IT/Computing at Uppingham Community College. In 2015 I won the Gold National Teaching award for Innovative use of technology. I also won the 2015 Young Game Bafta - Mentor award. I'm keen to help students achieve their best and like to give them opportunities to do this. I have a passion for teaching and I enjoy meeting other people and sharing their ideas. I have a keen interest in games development as well as developing the use of ICT in classrooms across the curriculum. In my spare time I teach Irish dancing. I have been Irish dancing since I was 11. My highest position was 14th at the world championships 3 years running and 2nd at the Great Britain Championships in 2006.
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