Future Schools Expo – Day 1 (part 3)

After morning tea Paul Hamilton, Head of Learning Technologies (Primary), from Matthew Flinders Anglican College spoke about authentic project based learning. He was able to control his presentation via an armband, when he moved his arm, triggering certain muscles, his slide changed to the next one. I had never seen this before, a very cool piece of technology.

He talked about the benefits of taping his lessons for students and also for staff. The benefits are students can review the lesson again and again, pause the recording when needed. Allows students to go at their own pace and lessons can be accessed outside of school.

He was advocating authentic learning experiences with a clear purpose, open tasks that allow the students to discover and explore. The benefits of coding are that the students have immediate feedback, code either works or it doesn’t. Kids teach themselves, it is collaborative, visible thinking and learning. We need to teach the kids how to think, not what to think. He decorates his walls with code, get the code out there so other students can see what others have done and perhaps get help this way.

He mentioned using Scratch Jr in primary school as a means of digital storytelling. Lessons should have minimal talking from the teacher. Get the kids doing and making, scaffold skills and teach concepts, not the answer.

What obstacles are there? Teacher motivation, the traditional role of the teacher is being challenged and some teachers are scared of this change. Ways to overcome obstacles are professional development, clubs and groups to explore and learn together.

Some resources he recommended were Alice, Hakitzu, Daisy the Dinosaur and Bee Bots.

The next speaker was Dr. Tim Bell, co-founder of CS Unplugged, resources for teaching computer science without computers. Tim is a great presenter, warm, engaging, funny, clever and enthusiastic. His message was computer science is magic! He had a great exercise that was a magic trick, but also teaches an area of computer science that appeared very hard to understand. The way he teaches the concept was fun and makes you realise it wasn’t that hard after all.

He talked about the skills that computer scientists need: communication, team work, creative, problem solving, attention to detail, subject knowledge. He warned of working too many hours and that working too much can limit your creativity.

He talked about Google data centres and how they hold thousands of hard disks to store all of the data. Google pump in sea water to help cool down the data centre as hard disks and computers generate a lot of heat. They then pump this water back into the ocean.

His activities were fun, engaging and designed for junior school children. I have used this site before and definitely feel like using these resources a lot more now.

Lunch break and then Abi Woldhuis from Roseville College.

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