Sunday, 25 February 2018

London CAS Conference 24th Feb

So yesterday was the 3rd CAS London Conference.
I attended a number of sessions and ran one. I am going to just review some of the sessions I attended and give my thoughts

It started with a talk from John Nixon, Ofsted National Lead for Computing.

His presentation definitely had a number of things that was food for thought, it's worth pointing out here so that everything he said could be applied to any subject within schools.

From a computing point of view though he mentioned that although Ofsted don't have a preference for the type of technology that are being used in school the key things are looking for is the impact and implementation of that technology. So they will be asking Leadership questions about how well does it work and if it doesn't what are you doing about it.

He made it very clear that even though Computer Science was a large component of the new curriculum we should not be losing sight of other aspects of ICT.

 He made the point that the PoS for Computing that children at KS1&2 should be given repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve problems. How often do children actually get the opportunity to do this and do the children know they're doing this?

 He made an interesting point about children at KS4 don't take computing and that them still some requirement for children to be prepared for a modern digital Society.

 A point that really struck me was that as part of the inspection they will look at ‘the breadth of the curriculum and pupils access to it’ (paragraph 66 - schools inspection handbook) What he went on to ask us was, how you adapted your SoW to meet the needs of your pupils? So when we are buying in schemes of work we need to think about how they can be adapted. He also reminded everyone that he content of your curriculum including the content and skills should be published on the school website.
To become outstanding everyone must have a deep knowledge and understanding of the subjects they teach.
Of course online safety is something they will talk about because they have to as it is part of safeguarding, Does everyone in your school now all the policies related to safeguarding since disclosure's can be made to anyone.

After this, they day was broken up into four sessions on various aspects of Computing.

I started off by going to a Python introduction session, I wanted to go to refresh some of my own subject knowledge. It was good just to have a play around with things that I forgotten about. It was presenting a really clearly and through eight lines of code managed to teach 7 concepts.

I ran the second session of the day which was on pedagogy and the use of control. We explored some of the thinking around control technology and progression of the different types. Then we had some time to explore a few Bluetooth control devices, that are used in schools. Click the link below fro my slides. During the session there was some nice responses and it did promote some good discussions. Though if I was being critical of it afterwards I think I should have focus more on pedagogy versus having time to play with equipment, though I'm aware that I always like to give people some hands on with something to make some of these theoretical ideas more real.

Over lunch I saw an interesting unplugged activity to demonstrate machine learning in action using tubs of sweets. By playing against the 'sweets' they learnt how to play the game better.

It was really interesting... but easier to see in action than explain.

The first session of the afternoon was on drones and was very informative, the young man taking session and built his own drone from scratch. The application though back to the classroom was more limited. Royal Academy of Engineering did show off some of the STEM activities that they make and get got a great bonus of a stem kit that we can take back to school on drones. I look forward to using back in school.

Final my last session of the day was on Assessment by Phil Bagge, as always full of things to go away and digest a bit.
I think the most important part of Phils session to remember why are we assessing and what are we doing with that information. The moment we make anything onerous or a tick box activity, is it actually providing anything useful.

Assessment appears in many forms and you might be doing lots of tiny assessments throughout the learning, or you might only have one one assessment opportunities, there are no set rules.
If you get ever get the opportunity here will speak about adjustment is absolutely worth going it's not the first time I've seen him speak about it nor will it be the last because there's always something new to be gleaned.

He spoke in-depth about using a problem solving rubric, he had developed with Mark Dorling to assess problem solving and how that can be linked to computational thinking.

Here is a link to the Assessment Slides

Right at the end of the day because I stayed to the bitter end I got the opportunity to see David Whale (@wheleygeek) the Microb:Bit Wizard showing off a really clever micro:bit activity. This activity allows you to quickly prototype and idea of something you can make with one or a pair of micro:bits. The microb:bit is running a program which allows you select various inputs and outputs of a micro:bit, you choose them from a list on screen. You can make the micro:bit, show a face when you push a button or more interestingly if I shake my micro:bit I can make the paired micro:bit show a sad face. What this activity is great for is giving children a quick way to see what's possible with a micro:bit. Once they've planned out and designed an idea, then they can start thinking about how they would program the micro:bit to do it. David will be sharing these resources on the link below.

All the resorces for the sessions will be available here:

That is all from me. I hope some of this is useful.

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