I am a leader in Computing and IT, a Forest School Leader and an outdoor enthusiast and feel passionately about these roles being essential to each other. The fundamental aim of this blog is to demonstrate that technology, when used effectively, has a firm place in education. I have a firm belief that when we teach content in a way that was not possible previously and redefine the experience of our learners through using creativity and engagement, then it is a positive step forward. We owe it to the pupils we teach to make lessons fun, engaging and memorable - that is where effective use of technology can and does make a difference.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Investigating angles in 2d shapes

Year 6 made Computing and Mathematics come to life by coding a program on Scratch using Pseudo Code then investigating the angles within 2d shapes. The program allowed pupils to test out the angles of turn in order to make the shapes and once recorded within an iBook pupils could test their results. The task was for pupils to connect iPads to Sphero Ollies using the app Tickle, then for pupils to screenshot their algorithms, film their Spheros drawing the shapes and finally upload the footage into their completed iBooks.

Scratch Junior Dance with Year 2 Pupils

Pupils in Year 2 were put to their paces creating dance movements that matched the coding blocks from the excellent Scratch Junior app. Once pupils had rehearsed their routines the challenge was to match the speed and order of their dance to the cat within the Scratch Junior app.

So much fun had by all and engaged pupils who now all use the term 'Algorithm' and Debugging'

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Technology and the outdoor classroom

Why I will be fully supporting Outdoor Classroom day 18th May 2017

As I sit here and write this blog,  I think about the highs and lows of my day in the classroom.  I love my job,  and wouldn’t change it for the world, yet, there are times when my balance of indoor and outdoor time are not quite in perfect harmony. Some of the highlights of my day include teaching year four and five pupils the importance of online safety through innovative CEOPS content, being greeted with a chorus of a-l-g-o-r-i-t-h-m by my inspiring Year one students, helping a staff member to produce a whole class BookCreator project and finally standing in a muddy field with my dog whilst rain trickled down my brow. Yes, you read the last line correctly! In the next paragraph or two I will attempt to explain my reasoning…

Man cannot live with tech alone!

My very existence as Head of Computing and IT and token ‘go to man when something doesn’t work’ could not be the sole driving force in my teaching profession.  In order for me to find equilibrium I need one vital ingredient... The outdoors

In 2015 I qualified as a Level 3 Forest School Leader and to this day I will state that it was one of the best things I ever did. The course was certainly not easy and many a night I would be up late writing assignments on the sustainability of natural woodland as a learning resource and flora and fauna identification, but, it was so, so worth it!

I have a ‘need’ to be outdoors and with worries over the amount of screen time that pupils are subjected to, I feel passionately about providing these opportunities for today’s students.

Back to the muddy field…
As the rain was trickling down my face and the 5pm dark took a strangle hold on my evening I felt alive, invigorated and in my natural environment - outside.
When I am outside my mind starts to contextualise the day and puts worries into insignificance. I am able to think about the ‘Real’ matters of life and also my subconscious provides me with answers as to how I might tweak a teacher training session for the following Thursday! (Shameful plug alert rtc.rgsw.org.uk)
You get the picture - I am able to balance my life and put perspective on things, important things.

Last weekend I went to the BETT show and after navigating the underground I finally arrived. After an hour or so of wandering around the lights, buzz and over familiar sales pitches I stumbled upon a small, very humble stand with a banner titled ‘ Outdoor Classroom day 2017’ - this gained my attention.
After minutes of discussing the benefits of being outdoors I signed my school up and my outdoor vs tech  equilibrium was ready to balance and offset the onslaught of a potential thirteen hour tech binge!

During my working week which involves Teaching Computing and IT for thirteen hours or so I also have the opportunity (privilege) to lead Forest School and spend time on the sports field. If I am writing this with the main theme being the need to be outside, then let’s spend a minute thinking this through from a child’s perspective…

A talk from the great Ken Robinson mused on the fact that prisoners in high security jails spend a minimum of two unstructured hours each and every day outside. A recent survey found that children in this country, on average, spend less than one hour outdoors in unstructured ‘free play’.

The benefits of outdoor play include

The chance to connect with the natural world; first hand experiences of life and growth; endless opportunities for creativity and imagination; improved fitness and physical development – the countless benefits of outdoor play have a real positive impact on children's lives.

So what can we do about it?

In reflecting upon this I would like to look into the opportunity to combine Computing and the Great outdoors. So much content can be taught away from the screens (Unplugged activities), so why not attempt these outdoors? Challenge accepted - I for one have just signed up for Outdoor classroom day and although this might be a tiny drop in the ocean, I feel that it might be the ripple needed to allow teachers to see the benefits themselves of our mighty outdoor classroom.

Please get in touch if this musing has hit a chord and let me know if I have had any impact upon your thought to also sign up for Outdoor Classroom day - it would add positive points to my outdoor equilibrium and help offset the time I spent writing!


Sunday, 22 January 2017

RGS The Grange recognised for use of technology in teaching

STAFF and students are celebrating after their school was recognised for its use of technology.

RGS The Grange, in Worcester, has for the second year been named a Computing at School (CAS) Lead School.

There are only 509 Lead Schools across England and this status allow RGS to support other schools in the area.

CAS master teacher Matt Warne, head of computing and IT, set up the school's CAS Hub at last year.

More than 30 teachers from schools around the area attend termly meetings there.

Gareth Hughes, headmaster, said: "I am delighted that the school has been recognised in this way.

"Under Mr Warne’s guidance, Worcestershire schools are able to come together to share best practice in the evolving world of computing.

"Everyone in the community gains from this initiative, not least young children in our care."

RGS uses cutting-edge technology alongside traditional teaching methods, and says it is committed to quality computer science teaching and supporting other schools.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Developing logical thinking and accuracy of algorithms with Year 4

Year 4 working hard to improve the accuracy of their algorithms, using Tickle app on their iPads and connecting via Bluetooth to Sphero Ollies. This for me demonstrates the importance of learning styles where in a lesson like this 'all' pupils are catered for and enjoy the buzz of the session. Visually constructing the algorithms, kinaesthetically seeing their algorithm come to life, linguistically discussing subtle improvements needed and logically applying these changes through evaluation.
   The first task set was for pupils to add one turn and aim for a preset target, progressing onto aiming for goal on the opposite side of the maze.