Head of Digital Strategy and teacher of Computing. I also play guitar and run barefoot.
I aim for the judicious use of technology in learning wherever possible in a whole school environment (11 - 18 year olds). Teaching since 1995 in the state sector and private sector, including EBD, SLD, MLD schools and briefly in a centre for deaf learners within a mainstream school.
I’ve just finished creating these resources – when I say creating, I mean copying from @dogtraxblogpost with permission kindly given by Kevin – so I thought it a good idea to share it with others.
Two documents, made in MS Word and uploaded to Google Drive. In lessons, pupils will be able to use an online copy, an offline copy or a hard copy.
1. Storyboard design template with a table for the game design workflow designed by Kevin.
2. An exemplar of the storyboard design filled in.
I might amend these files after I have used them but I like the simplicity of it all. Once again teaching Scratch, I am surprised and pleased by how engaged so many pupils are. This year, the year eights have started by making their own PONG game by copying the script. Then onwards to PIMPING my PONG by improving cosmetics and gameplay and levels and other objects to bat around the screen and more sound effects. They will compose their own sounds using CuBase with their music teachers, and explore recreating sound effects like they do on radio plays. These will then be imported into their own games or animations. Hence the storyboard design tool above.
As part of ICT in Subjects, my department is working with the Music department to create scratch games and/or animations with music and sound effects composed in CuBase.
First lesson is to recreate the famous pong game in scratch. So, I set a Frog assignment (Quick Issue Work) to all five classes so 125 pupils could hand in their file to be scored out of 3 [0 = no file; 1 = struggled; 2 = complete with errors; 3 = complete] plus a comment.
Below is a video of the marking process of one file. Frog is not very good at this yet. I wonder if Frog4OS will be any better at this. Frog4 runs on any device because it is coded in HTML5, and so will remove limitations on usage – people expect a VLE to work properly on any device (maybe not handhelds) or in any modern browser. Frog3 is guaranteed to work only on Windows running IE.
The marking does work but there are a lot of clicks involved. In Moodle, all the grades and files and comments would be accessible from one page which makes the process much faster and allows easy copy and pasting of comments. Also, you cannot release (return to pupil) marks for pupils that have done their work before the deadline. I made a big mistake as shown in the video – knew it as I did it: d’oh! – by assigning the same assignment to all five classes. This means we will not to be able to release the marks until all pupils have submitted.
Anyway, if interested, watch the video and please let me know about your experiences of marking work in Frog3 or Frog4.
Quick post about some cool scratch games my Y8 learners have made. See it all on the YouTube video below. Recorded with SnagIt from TechSmith.
Props to the young people spending far more than the 30 minutes homework they are allocated to ICT each week to develop awesome games! Now I have to work out where scratch fits into the new curriculum without discrete ICT lessons. First idea is the music department where they will create animations or games and then compose their own music to accompany them. Any other great ideas out there?
AQA have attempted (2009)to take this issue seriously and consulted IBM, British Aerospace and other big corps to identify what they want from graduates. The answer, according to Barbara Wilson – chief examiner at the time – was business-savvy young people who understand how technology can add value to an organisation and the complicated process of implementing tech successfully. The new ICT A Level spec attempts to do this. I quite like it. Paper projects are still a problem. I hope to see the end of these shortly, but it is not easy to nurture the real-life project process without interaction (research, deliverables, testing) with users and clients. A controlled assessment approach might otherwise be a good idea. Fixed time frame. A range of problems set by the board. Effectively a practical exam.
The BIO takes this format but it is quite raw and difficult programming and I think there in lies part of the problem no-one seems to talk about. Programming is hard. [The one student I enter for the BIO - he got distinction last year - is the best mathematician the school has seen in 20 years.] I guess that’s why these conversations inevitably encourage everyone to start learning code young. I might, maybe after a pint, argue that all the visual programming simulators (Scratch et al) are doing a diservice to the cause. In Bob Noyce‘s final interview (in the 1990′s) he said that, if he were in charge of it all, he would like to “make sure we are preparing our next generation to flourish in a high-tech age. And that means education of the lowest and the poorest, as well as at the graduate school level.” I’m not sure these immediate gratification software applications are the answer. Love them as I do. The joy of programming is writing lines of code to achieve a solution to a problem – not make a game or an animation. Who would be interested in programming to visually uninteresting outcomes after the rich loveliness and quick win play of KODU.
My cigarette packet solution is the Maths curriculum. Maths is already embedded in the heart of every school and connected to programming via algorithms and logical sequencing etc. I feel that the most effective and efficient way we can impregnate coding into UK schools is via the same route as algebra and geometry. Who should we be talking to? Those in charge of Maths. What’s the probability of them saying yes? One or zero.