Saturday, 30 November 2013

Rubber duck programming

During the year a blog post talked about rubber duck programming. Getting students to explain to a rubber duck how their program worked, or if they stick a problem and didn't quite know how to fix it. This us where the rubber ducks come in.

Students I have found work well doing peer programming, being able to explain to someone else and have them code it or come up with a solution. In a lot of ways this is what happens in my classroom. The biggest problem is that the assessment doesn't allow for this. Students need to be able to independently demonstrate the skills involved.
How can a student debug their code. Buy using the rubber duck technique they can communicate with, even though it doesn't talk back, being able to explain an idea helps the human brain come up with a solution. I have experienced this, being able to sit down and think clearly about a problem, not have the stress, but time to draw, explain, develop has been one of the best techniques I have developed over the years to sort out tricky problems. I have visual diaries full of drawings, text and ideas to sort out solutions.

So to my students in 2014, we will be rubber ducking solutions.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Feedback for the teacher

I am thinking of an idea, each week I give the student a weekly note,

However, earlier this year I was talking with a teacher at a conference and he talked about a worm for use within class, how engaged are our students. This was an interesting project where I developed a jQuery system for students to enter in a rating or use a slider. 1 equalled disengaged, 5 = engaged. Students just wanted to enter a 1. Just because they could.

Now 8 months on, I have been thinking, what if students were able to give me feedback on my teaching, how engaged they were. The only issue is, do I want to know who they are. Should that part be optional? How long should it take them? Will they take it seriously? WIll it fix up some areas of my teaching that I am not aware of? How will it be reported? Do I share it with my students?

What system should I do it in, moodle, google docs, or write one myself?

I do like the idea...

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Great RPi resource

OCR resources for Raspberry Pi to liven up your lessons

We have been working in collaboration with Raspberry Pi and with leading practitioners to create resources that support the use of the Raspberry Pi in the classroom.

Recipe cards

Playing a different game

One thing that gets me about the subject area that I teach is the comment, This is Digital Technologies, we need to be on a computer all the time. FALSE.

The more I start looking at the requirements, the more I start to see that I need to get them off a computer and working out their problems through whiteboards, paper and visual diaries.

Here is a something I got them to do last year, this is the seven bridges problem.
Notice that it is outside.

One thing that I have started seriously thinking of is the issue of security. This is something that some students are interested in and some have a rather bad interest in. I notice in the latest cs4fn magazine that it talks about a board game Control-Alt-Hack,,  this is something that could create an interesting dynamic within the class. Do students play board games in any other classes?

One thing that is stopping me from getting it is the $50 dollar shipping charge from the states.

One thing that I was shown at cs4hs Adelaide was more of the csunplugged activities. This one looked at a tourist town and how you could make sure only a certain number of ice cream trucks could be used at certain corners. 

by the way, the answer is not correct you can do it with six trucks

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Digital Technologies Projects for 2014 ideas

On thing that came to light this year was the projects that I had my Level 3 students complete. I had students work on projects that related to Raspberry Pi and come up with solutions to problems that I knew existed. In 2013 we had our first mashup competition, two days to come up with a viable solution that needed a business, marketing plan and presentation. This is something that I wish to encourage the students to do next year, but we need to start somewhere. I am thinking about wether to get students into teams, this will allow a variety of ideas to develop.

1. Environment Canterbury has lots of useful information for recreational boaties and kayakers including river flows and navigational safety. Create a Mashup that uses some of this information combined with other sources (eg weather photos, maps) that would be useful for people going out on the water.

2. Catalyst IT’s mission is ‘to make open source the preferred technology choice of New Zealand.’ Develop a Mashup that would promote the use of open source data to secondary students in Canterbury using information from the Catalyst IT website plus other information sources.

3. One of Land Information New Zealand’s (LINZ) purposes is to encourage land information markets to develop and mature. Develop a Mashup that uses some of LINZ’s information sources (plus any others) to encourage greater use of the data by senior geography students in Canterbury secondary schools.

4. Sensing City is a project dedicated to positioning Christchurch as a world leading smart city. Develop a Mashup that enables people to enter their house location and then pull together all/any data that is local to their home so that they are better enabled to understand what is happening in their immediate neighbourhood.

5. Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) works with other agencies to
help earthquake recovery for local businesses and industry. Develop a Mashup that uses some of their
information with other information sources to help the younger business people re-establish themselves more successfully.

6. Removed due to equipment only available at the event. However it could be possible to contact the person at Tait and get some of the equipment out to the school. API development would be a good introduction to the year.

7. Free choice: Develop a Mashup that uses different information sources and is useful for your target
audience. You will need to discuss this with the competition coordinator.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Raspberry Pi and Networks

Luckily our entire staff got to go to CPIT for half a day this week. Through this day I was re-introduced to something that I had done over 10 years ago. Creating a network cable. The week before I had been at another school looking at their programme and the focus on networking, however it was focussed on the networking in CISCO. Now I am not a CISCO certified instructor and don't really want to be. However, I have done networking in my Certificate and Advanced Certificate in Business Computing when I first left school.

This is an area of interest, and one that I wish to get back into. I looked back into my teaching practice and when training at a school, I had students put together a bunch of computers, create their own network cables and network them together to create a Beowulf cluster.

Why have I not done this before...

The standards did not allow me, I was teaching Information Management and Technology.
Now though, I have been struggling to get my head around the new standards, developing understanding with my students and completely forgot what I had accomplished so many years ago.

Instead of trying to find 13 computers and space to hook them up, I have the Raspberry Pi, small, easy to use and so much fun. I can imagine these connected and the students creating their own networks and having to understand IP addresses, subnets and having to work out who gets what address Then introduce them to DHCP and what it allows to happen. But what a fun unit. Getting students to work through this will provide skills and knowledge. Though I plan to do this at Level 3, It is a Level 2 AS91378 skill based on the Body of Knowledge.

So, here is what I am thinking, I have heaps of network cable... I have just brought 4 crimpers, network plugs and have a spare 16 port switch at school. They have to create a network, there is no cables, no DHCP, and no Internet connection, yet! So, they need to setup network address, and connection, ping a machine, ftp a file to that machine, and connect to the webserver to display a webpage. simple enough? Let the challenge begin! I can use my 256Meg RPi to run the server that they will need to connect to.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Learning and Challenging

These would be two words that describe this year.
Learning, I took up the challenge this year to do a University Paper, this is a special topic paper run by the University of Canterbury, EDEM626, Curriculum Implementation for Computer Science. This has been a challenging experience as my writing is an issue. I am a repeat sixth former, something that I say to my students. The paper was developed earlier this year and I couldn't believe when it was announced that it was going ahead. This was something I had to do. I have been a teacher for 10 years, I can do the Digital Information, Digital Media and Programming. It is the Computer Science that I never had an opportunity to do through my Polytechnic courses. Though looking at this now it should never have stopped me. The Google funded CS4HS as well as the materials created by the University of Canterbury Computer Science department. I guess it was just a confidence issue. Something that I have had to get past when doing the paper. It has been challenging doing a 30 credit paper when also having a full time job as well as association work.

Challenges, supporting two conferences this year, an NZACDITT association run symposium in Auckland, as well as a combined TESAC Conference in Wellington. I have also been challenged in my thinking by others in the google group. But challenged in the classroom has been one of the biggest factors. My year 13 students this year have gone through massive change. Digital Technologies Achievement Standards in both media, programming and generic technologies. I think this has been one of the hardest years as the students have been the test students for the last three years. I have also not been confident in what I am teaching them, have I done the right thing, why are the students not engaged with what they are doing?
Level 3 python was probably one of my biggest challenges, a new course, a new programming language and the last time I had ever written a program to develop buttons and GUI on screen was java many years ago. Though I was impressed at one student who had a chat with his father and managed to incorporate an API into the program to do the currency conversion.
Getting access to servers has also been another challenged, with BYOD and having to allow access to the server for the SSID has been a challenge. Though I think the server could be about to have issues as when a large number of students access it at once its goes incredibly slow and managed to show 150% usage.
We also have the challenge of an elearning class next year, something that has been two years in the making.

Learning and Challenging,
I took up a challenge this year to offer more externals in my area.
Level one Digital Information, Level One Computer Science, all Level one students
Level two 3 Digital Information, an entire class doing Level Two computer science.
Level 3, one Digital Information, the rest Level 3 computer science.
This has been a huge learning curve.

Though I have also been looking lately at the Level One Digital Infrastructure, I have been looking at my current courses and looking at the time, credits and learning involvement. This is something that I need to consider. Digital Infrastructure 1.50 looks at students being able to demonstrate knowledge about the insides of a computer. Something they are interested in. I have had a couple of year 12 students talking to year 9 students about building computers, something they are research and talking about all the time. So, why not engage the students in the learning and provide them a bit more information. I struggle with the fact that these standards have been designed with CISCO IT Essentials in mind.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

CS Teachers–Please help evaluate Hour of Code Tutorials

I'm passing this along for who I am helping organise tutorials for an Hour of Code during CS education week. We need help evaluating the tutorials we have received to make sure we have high quality projects for people to use. Please help if you can. Thank you!

We've received many submissions of Hour of Code tutorials. We want help in sorting through them, so that the display order is based on feedback of the broader CS community. The final presentation will look something like the list you see a t
Please read the Hour of Code Tutorial Guidelines first:
Tutorials will be listed higher if they are:
  • high quality
  • self-directed, don’t require too much instruction
  • designed for beginners
  • designed as a ~ 1 hour activity
  • require no signup
  • require no payment
    require no installation
  • work across many OS/device platforms
  • work across multiple languages
  • promote diversity (gender/race-neutral presentation)
We want your help looking at the many submissions we've received, and scoring them 1-5 on each of these attributes.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You don't need to fill out the entire form. Please help us out as much as you can.
Thank you,
Pat Yongpradit
Director of Education,

Friday, 8 November 2013

Trying to finish - Computer Science

I have my last report due for my University Paper, 5000 words. Its going ok, but grammar and references are proving to be a problem.

In some ways I am not worried about the grade, I am a full time teacher. It was more about the learning that I needed to be able to teacher certain topics to the students. This is what I intended the paper for.

It has been a incredible semester, working with fantastic teachers and inspiring others to take up the challenge of teaching computer science. For me I taught Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 Computer Science for the first time this year. Being awash with new learning and ideas brought a teacher energetic to teach the new material, being able to help students possibly obtain endorsement in Digital Technologies. It has been worth it.

Learning about some of the challenges of distance learning. I was lucky to be in Christchurch and able to attend the lectures at the University, my colleagues from around the country had to attend via Adobe Connect, which was a difficult at the start as some firewalls at schools needed to have some work done to allow the stream through. Content was also available through the Universities Moodle instance. Which as a student, rather than a teacher has opened my eyes to some of the issues that maybe my students face when using the school moodle server.

Tuesday was a very problematic day making sure that all students managed to hand something in, and get two level one standards, two level two standards and two level 3 standards away. This is an incredible achievement for my students as writing is always a challenge. But breaking it down and separate documents for each makes it easier, it is not until the end when they bring it all together that the realise they have written a large amount.

I look forward to the statistics that will come out of this in 2014. For the first time we will have statistics on three levels of Computer Science, three years of level one Computer Science happening in Secondary Schools. Three years of Computer Science that will change the world for those students.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Is the ministry doing enough for Digital Technologies Teachers?

Reading and article today, they think they are.
However, Rowena Phair, the Ministry of Education's deputy secretary of student achievement, denies the ministry has cast ICT teachers adrift. 
"We've significantly increased what we're providing to teachers and principals." That commitment includes a $9 million budget for professional development, an online resources site and "digi-advisers" who work with principals. 
Phair believes the roll-out of its ultra-fast broadband network will see a "significant shift" in the way technology is taught. 
"It's going to make a huge difference in terms of the connection, the speed, the availability of uncapped data, so this is really transforming what schools see as possible in terms of using digital literacy."
Umm, what is going on here, where is this $9million dollars and the digi-advisors that they are talking about...

As Digital Technologies teachers will tell you, they have seen nothing.

The Digi-advisors are these...
This is the virtual VLN 'home' of the Digi Advisors who are available to support educators on the use of digital content, Digistore and other key NZ eLearning websites. Use the links in the left hand menu to find useful resources and to request support from the Digi Advisors.

ummm, ok, I am confused... and so do others it seems... the ministry it seems to think that we are ICT teachers? I think someone needs to inform them of the changes that they made.