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.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Robotics to Inspire

Matt Warne (CAS Master Teacher, Head of Computing and IT, RGS The Grange, Worcester) will be presenting a workshop on robotics in the primary phase at the 2017 CAS National Conference (Bham). Here he discusses what excites him about robotics in teaching the computing national curriculum.
My leap of faith into the realms of Primary Computer Science occurred around 2012 when I was developing new initiatives within our IT offering to students. I happened to make a link with an inspiring secondary teacher who took me under his wing and demonstrated the powers of Computing. Before long I was transporting pupils to outreach events to dabble in Scratch and giving them a taste of what was to become Michael Gove's most valuable input, the integration of Computing with the Primary Curriculum. To test the water, I started running after school Code Clubs to see how this Computing malarkey went down with the pupils under my guidance as a classroom teacher. Following a few experimental sessions I stumbled across an old acquaintance who happened to be coding for a job! Naturally, I invited him to join my inspired young audience of Coders and with a slightly more structured approach through the excellent CodeClub, the murky waters of Computer Science started to look quite clear and very appetising. Having been inspired myself, I spent a considerable amount of time experimenting (Tinkering) and building my confidence. Before long I had joined the mighty CAS movement and was knighted a Master Teacher.
A few years later I find myself working in an innovative school in Worcester (RGS The Grange) with a job title 'Head of Computing and IT' employed as a specialist teacher who solely teaching this unique subject. What a rollercoaster it has been and my pedagogy of the subject has seriously been polished since those early days. In this time frame I have learnt many things, yet the one that stands out the most is to always aim to inspire the next generation of Computer Scientists and, of course, to make the subject fun and accessible to all.
Robotics in Computing has a 'wow' factor and I have yet to teach a lesson where pupils haven't been fascinated with making things happen on the screen. I does not have to be a huge investment, just a well thought out and planned decision as to how Robotics can have an impact on our young learners. Looking closely at the National Curriculum it becomes apparent that many of the objectives can be met through a unique approach and one that will instil memories for years to come. As a school we decided to invest in a set of Sphero Ollies, they are robust, accurate, easy to charge and most importantly will not implode when coded on a collision course with a fire door! Instantly the pupils I taught were immersed in their learning and you could hear the rich conversations between pairs as they were tasked with coding the Ollies to a series of rich and challenging tasks.
I have spent the last twelve months embedding robotics into our curriculum as well as the extra curricular offering to the pupils. Robotics makes an appearance in Year Two where pupils are encouraged to make decisions upon algorithms used to guide the Ollie from A-B and jointly guide the now named 'Rob the Robot' to safety. As pupils progress and develop their computational thinking the challenges also require pupils to decompose challenges and apply logic. Year Six challenges include investigating the angles of turn in 2d shape, coding letters and names, investigating angles of turn when using an iPad to steer the Ollie in a game of Football and finally the dreaded Mr Warne's Maze of Doom.
If this is a route that you would be interested in taking your pupils in, then join me at the CAS National Conference 2017 where I will aim to inspire and share the ways in which my pupils relish their weekly offering of Computing and IT with Robotics.
Matt Warne (@Mattwarney )
Published on CAS Website 13th May 2017

Friday, 7 April 2017

Explaining how The Internet works with Year 5 pupils

Over the last five weeks Year Five pupils have learnt so much about Networks, The Internet and the World Wide Web. The assessment tasks set included producing an Explain Everything Video on our Local Area Network and finally to produce an iMovie (with Green Screen and Stop Frame animation) to demonstrate knowledge of the Internet.