Wednesday, 29 October 2014

one thing made my day

I have been reading the google group today, and one thing caught my eye,

A student of mine has an after-school job and needs to learn Wordpress. She has asked me for resources but I haven’t explored Wordpress yet. Before she trawls the Internet for resources, can anyone recommend anything suitable that I could suggest for her?

It used to be that businesses wanted students with office productivity skills, it has been a while since I have seen one of those emails. Having this come across the screen today provides me hope. Hope that there is a change happening. The Digital Technologies standards were designed with the future in mind, not what was happening at the time. These standards were designed with the next six years in mind, that was in 2010.

One thing I have found in my teaching is that I am looking into the future. My courses change each year as I look at what is happening, level 3 in 2013 looked at content management systems and students starting to look at how to develop a website for a radio station that had a live stream running from it as well as what could be developed using a raspberry pi. This year we looked at individual projects that developed concepts or prototypes websites for a range of different stakeholders. I have an idea for next years class that will develop their complex skills.

Having three students in my level 3 course that went through the course last year provided them such an opportunity. The were able to use the skills that they had developed as well as the technology process in a way that made them want to extend themselves. 

The problem that we face is the standards that we have to offer, how much evidence is needed to support them.

Right, back to what I was talking about before.
Developing students understanding. Students often wonder why there is a security fix, a patch, why is their computer restarting due to an Operating System update. I often wonder if we should show them why. Is there a way that we can install a non patched wordpress install internally and then show them how they can gain access through a security vulnerability. Then get them to patch it?

This goes back to a unit that I found great interest in a while ago called Hacker High School. A way for students to learn some of the methods and understanding of why we need to patch. 

Maybe it is something that could be looked at.

Monday, 27 October 2014

91636 (3.44) and why it is an important achievement standard

This standard I consider is one of the important ones in the Digital Technologies strands.

Demonstrate understanding of areas of computer science

Being able to demonstrate an understanding of what is happening around us, why we need to look at 
• formal languages 
• network communication protocols 
• complexity and tractability 
• intelligent systems 
• software engineering 
• graphics and visual computing. 

These are important concepts that make computing. 

Though, who can way which one is more important over another.

This is the second year I have taught this standard and I must say that I am starting to change my mind over the way that I will deliver them. I think one is important as students can delve into the concepts of it and look at the way software is developed. 

Going out to industry and have them explain their software development process is incredible important to the students. Without industry this concept would be difficult to teach. I had a wonderful day long visit to Orion Health in Christchurch this year with my Level 3 students who go to experience a day in the office. Talk to a number of developers, the most requested role was the UX developers, having on two in the office meant that their time was limited, but the students enjoyed the opportunity. Having waterfall and agile explained to them provided them opportunity to be able to write their reports using personalised examples.

Artificial Intelligence allows students to use online chat robots to see just how smart they are. This is normally and interesting lessons in which students go down some interesting paths. But what happens when you separate the conversation away from students to others in another room, those that are on computers and those that are not. Who is who?

Network protocols, how can you be sure that a message has been received. Think back to the early days of text messaging, how can you be sure that your message got through? Acknowledgement of messages, and making sure that messages are passed through in the right order.

Complexity and tractability would have to be my favourite now. This looks at the travelling salesman problem. Though in the csfieldguide I like the fact that it is craypots instead of cities. Maybe it could be that I like to watch deadliest catch. Or the fact that we used to cycle around the city delivering plans for dad to a number of companies and working out what was the best way.

This I learnt from CS4HS last year, you need to look at two areas of computer science. That there needs to be some demonstration of the concepts that are being taught. That there needs to be a talk about the algorithms that are used, evaluated.

Demonstrate understanding of areas of computer science involves: 
• describing key problems that are addressed in selected areas of computer science 
• describing examples of practical applications of selected areas to demonstrate the use of key algorithms and/or techniques from these areas. 

Demonstrate in-depth understanding of areas of computer science involves: 
• explaining how key algorithms or techniques are applied in selected areas 
• explaining examples of practical applications of selected areas to demonstrate the use of key algorithms and/or techniques from these areas. 

Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of areas of computer science involves: 
• discussing examples of practical applications of selected areas to demonstrate the use of key algorithms and/or techniques from these areas 
• evaluating the effectiveness of algorithms, techniques, or applications from selected areas. 

Will teachers teach something at level 3 that they have not prepared their students for during the last two years? This is a challenge in itself. Will a lesson plan help?

The University of Canterbury, Computer Science Education Research department has developed a Computer Science Field Guide that has been developed to support the Computer Science achievement standards, there is a students version and teacher version. The teacher version has hints and tips in it for teachers to use when teaching this to their students. 

One thing I would suggest is, getting teachers together and going through the work, and getting the teachers to go through it themselves. Get some PD in it. There is a course, but it helps develop your understanding not just for level 3, but also for level 1, and 2. 

This standard is important as it provides students two aspects of computer science that they are able to delve into, try a number of situations, discuss them and be able to write down their thoughts in a technical report. 

I have four students that are currently doing NCEA level 3 and the COSC121 and COSC122 course. It is amazing how many times they have brought up the conversation that they are just doing this concept in class at the moment. They have knowledge from school that they are able to bring into there lecture and tutorials. 

I was showing a graph on the board the other days of linear vs binary searching ( a level one topic) that they said that they wish had been taught to them in level 1. I started last year teaching the computer science standards.

However, there is a perception that this standard is too hard to teach.

From the markers guide:
  • There are six areas to choose from in the standard, and the phrase "selected areas" means that at least two of them need to be selected. A few candidates only selected one area. 
  • Some candidates did not seem to have the criteria of the standards in mind. Describing a key problem was often overlooked with candidates often just discussed the algorithms or techniques. 
  • Some candidates simply described their own software project rather than looking at the processes used and comparing them. Some candidates who did describe a software development process did not name it, or explain why was suited to that particular project. 
  • Teachers need to ensure that candidates who include their own practice do not focus on software testing (white and black box testing), but instead focus on software engineering. 
  • Network communication, focus was on the different transmission media, rather than the algorithms or reasons. 
  • If doing Turing Tests, make sure appropriate and relevant conversations are being held. 
  • In the artificial intelligence section simply providing a printout of chatbots conversation history without explaining the computer science process behind it limited chances of success. 
  • Good questions for chatbots were more likely to provide material that allowed candidates to demonstrate understanding. 
  • Candidates did well with this standard where they set out to show understanding complex computer science topics rather than show-casing programming skills. 
Looking at the listerve emails, comments like That makes my brain hurt, and ‘ NOPE no level 3 Comp sci being taught here next year.' limit understanding. These were specifically around one concept in the standard around which was computer graphics where students needed to be able to do calculations using Matrix's. 

It is unfortunate that they did not look at the other areas around the standard that could of been carried out.  

connected educator chched

    Posted on

    I always struggle to figure out what to write, so I will talk about something that I am passionate about. This normally sits on a teacher shelf, gathering dust, or is put somewhere to be brought out every once in a while. It is a critical document that every teacher should be looking at, asking questions, pulling apart. It is the New Zealand Curriculum. In 2007, a brand new curriculum was released, it offered a change, it offered new ideas, it talked about visions, key competencies and future focussed learning. It also had a statement on page 36, that I have above my computer, "Schools should explore not only how ICT can supplement traditional ways of teaching but also how it can open up new and different ways of learning".

    It is however an interesting experience when you have no one in your area to communicate with in your school. I came from a school that had six digital technologies teachers, ideas were being shared, developed, massaged all the time. Now I am at a school where I am it. How does a teacher try to do the above by themselves. 

    I use networks, twitter, google groups, POND, VLN, subject association listserve. I am active in these circles, I don't lurk. That is just not me. These are my collegues, these are the people that I get ideas off, massage units of work, try different things with. This post is about some of those ideas.

    Earlier this year on twitter and on the mle-reference group on Google Groups a question was asked if anyone has a database of all the achievement objectives from the NZC. Later on I was at Startup Weekend Education Wellington where one of the pitches was to link resources to achievement objectives. Though it didn't get any one jumping in for it, it got me thinking. So NZC Explorer was created. You can put in any of the 8 learning areas, and select what level, this will then show you the achievement objectives that you can add at the bottom to create a list for your unit planner. Having these achievement objectives in one place and able to be copied and put into unit planners has defiantly helped as well as opened up a new idea in where students can investigate the curriculum, and look for what they want to work on.

    That is where I have started to relook at what I am teaching, I am a Digital Technologies teacher who looks at the Digital Technologies strands at the Level 6, 7 and 8. These are new, they were not aligned as part of the NCEA realignment. Digital technologies was developed as a subject to move on from computing. It is a subject in its own right and currently looking at a review to possibly make it is own learning learning. However, I digress, these are knowledge and skill based standards. However, we are also under the Technology curriculum, levels 1-5, something that provides students with opportunities to develop conceptual designs and prototypes. It opens a way for a student to get interested in software development. 

    I have been experimenting with the Technology curriculum this year since we have now implemented the three new NCEA Digital Technologies and Generic Technology standards, I am now looking at three levels of Technological Systems;

    TEC3-KNO-SYS Understand that technological systems are represented by symbolic language tools and understand the role played by the black box in technological systems.
    TEC4-KNO-SYS Understand how technological systems employ control to allow for the transformation of inputs to outputs.
    TEC5-KNO-SYS Understand the properties of subsystems within technological systems.

    CodingLast year I started a project through twitter called #codingNZC, in which teachers collaborated throughout the country adding in information about how they were introducing coding in the curriculum through a google document, Link here. This allowed for ideas to be developed and shared and collaborated on. In many cases it showed a number of teachers that were doing coding in lower levels already.

    This has opened the way for me to start getting Coding into the lower levels, something for students to experience. I choose for students not to do coding through the traditional sense, but get students doing coding by pen and paper, problem solving using computational thinking to help guide them through the problem solving. As not every problem has the same solution.
    This project came from a twitter conversation with another tweeter, @beechEdesignz, up north. #NZCTech was born. This was to help develop some resources to get a little known Achievement Objective in the Technology Curriculum some more profile. It also started getting people opening up the NZC and having a look at the objectives and having conversations around what is happening.

    Technologically literate young people: -have a broad understanding of how and why things work
    -understand how technological products and technological systems are developed
    -can critically evaluate technological developments and trends
    -can design and evaluate their own solutions in response to needs and opportunities.
    Like any other literacy, technological literacy is developed by exposure to a wide range of relevant experiences over time.
    Technological system knowledge includes an understanding of input, output, transformation processes, and control,
    and an understanding the notion of the 'black box', particularly in terms of sub-system design.
    Understanding redundancy and reliability within system design and performance,
    and an understanding of the operational parameters of systems are also included.
    developing ideas of system design, development, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

    The reason why I put the stuff up is... isn't this coding? It already exists in the curriculum...

    here is the Technology Systems explanatory paper how about rewriting it for

    Page 73-79, To support students to develop understanding of technological systems at Level...

    so, the challenge could be, how to write a series of engaging projects for each level
    Not doing things small
    Being able to guide students through complex computer science without using a computer has been fun, doing things on a big scale and taking up schools quad to do it, is just fun.
    Here is setting up the seven bridges problem.

    Using resources from the hour of code last year has allowed students to start understanding what is required as well as making it more fun and interesting. Designing code with arrows to control a cup stacking robot. Through to writing your name in binary, are a couple of activities that the students are required to do. This helps later on when looking at coding as they start to understand inputs and outputs. This was used with year 9 this year.

    The other part of this transformational change is to bring the front of the curriculum back into view for me. The key competencies. I have been to many a Professional Development where the talk has been around what employers want, they want students who can read and write; think; problem solve; sort and evaluate information; communicate; manage themselves; work with others; participate; and be good citizens. I think I have found myself to assessment focussed in the past and not focussed on the key competencies.

    Thinking about this I have started using some materials that I found online through the NZCER,, I have has to do some work to find the files and have included them in a dropbox. These are the student survey and xls spreadsheet file only, I do not have the teachers documents. I may look at making into a web app in which any teacher could do this with their class. Getting students to do a snapshot in showing how Key Competencies are developing in your class provides evidence for a inquiry or Registered Teachers Criteria.

    A lot of what I am gathering together and using I am putting into POND. Pond is a place where educators can discover content and services, share knowledge and engage with their peers.

    Thank you to those that have assisted with many of the projects through twitter. Without them a number of these projects and ideas would not have been developed. If anyone has any other ideas I would be keen to hear about them.

    If you are interested in coding, I would highly suggest the to be held in the beginning of December.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

online assessment PE Level 1

This year the PE department came to me to ask how they could move forward. They have limited lessons to do PE and offer a assessment.
The assessment is reflecting on what they did during the class. What factors limited based on a series of questions. What they could do next time to work on this.

We looked at moodle as being a way to do this. However, lack of knowledge had an impact on this as students couldn't go back and edit their responses.

Next, we looked at Google Docs, this would require students to have a document and keep updating it. Not really suitable at this point.

Google Forms, Students can add entries, tick boxes, develop an understanding and it is using a platform they are familiar with. The problem that we have found is going back and editing.
However, bring in some Information Science, and away we go...

Export the google form data into a database, and then have the students access, and be able to edit the information. This could have been a good idea at the start, however the current google doc has been through 4 iterations as the teacher has developed the assessment and thoughts.

The 4 iterations had to be all incorporated into the database and information set that we now have available.

Early on in Google forms we turned on the require username, this has allowed us to have a common field, it is amazing how different students enter their name in the form each lesson. This has helped us match the data easily. There was a period where google broke in which we had to turn off the username catching, this caused a large number of issues that we had to work through. As we use moodle as our access point it links into google forms easily with single sign on. That part broke for a couple of days.

getting into the next part of the assessment has taken a bit of thinking. We needed to have a way to enable teachers to enter comments on what was missing, provide feedback. Students needed to see this and make the required changes. But there needs to be a record of this.
The nest part was that there needs to be a way to be able to use this for online moderation. The 8 selected students need to be able to be exported or printed.

The first version of the software worked out the number of entries that each student had done as students could not remember what entry they were up to, in some cases there are double entries. This needed to be able to be viewed quickly.

The next part was added in quickly, but never released until this week. I worked on the auth system, but became stuck in my thoughts as I wasn't putting time into the development. Most of what I created I deleted as I would just end up going around in circles.

Over the past two days, I finished students being able to update factor1, factor2 and could. Teachers being able to enter comments and an auth system that means that students can't access each others. Though it has the students email address in the URL, they can't change it and add in another students. It just won't work.

What needs to happen, we need to move off google docs and make this a full system for this assessment. Students should be able to log in from home and access the material and fill in their log.
teachers need to be able to tick off each entry and make a note so they can see a table of what has been completed and what hasn't...

Making it available for online moderation would then mean that there is little need for teacher stress for this.

One of the best parts around this is... This came from a conversation within school. Teachers talking to each other.

You should see what the PE teacher wants to do next.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

frustrating comments

This morning I woke up to this tweet
Wow, reading the blog posts shows a lack of knowledge and understanding. The interesting part is
that the author does not reference what level he is talking about.

I know if 151 schools that are teaching coding at ncea level 1.

over 4000 students obtained a result in programming through ncea last year

scratch, Python, Java, JavaScript, cocoa are some of the languages taught

considering programming is a strand of the technology - digital technologies of NZC

the actual subject digital technologies establish 2009 teaches programming, algorithms and

computer science to three levels of ncea

best thing @CodeClubNZ being launched today at #itx2014 to support coding in intermediate

if you want to see evidence of how good schools are at programming see

massive amount of work from the subject association @NZACDITT

there are three cs4hs workshops going in nz

this is well established in New Zealand

programming happening in electronics and media across the digital technologies framework

here is the curriculum matrix it sits under …

I can tell you which schools, how many entries across the country

To which, the response was I was thinking primary/intermediate rather than secondary/NCEA level.

Note: Interesting that no where in his original blog post was the level mentioned, however, through the use of @codingNZC and talking about projects that are happening in schools, there is a lot going on. It is only when you step outside your area and talk with other do you see what is actually going on. Maybe this is what ulearn should be promoting, doing.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

NZC Explorer

I have started my project, to make the curriculum easier to work through and develop unit plans.
Its called NZC Explorer

Ver 0.1 get dropdown boxes working to select Curriculum Area and Level, add analytics
Ver 0.2 link in database and use GET statements to show select calls. Show a basic list of curriculum areas and levels based upon selection
Ver 0.3 Redo the list of curriculum areas and levels selected to display within a table.
Ver 0.4 add in session to be able to keep a list (array) of the various Achievement Objectives selected, so when click on add button they will be added to the list at the bottom
Ver 0.5 added in a clear button, fixed spelling mistakes
Ver 0.5a adding in new data, always check that the code is individual, this means that the Primary Key will set. Checked the Code format in the spreadsheet that develops the code and fixed to make sure the right code was being created.  This affected Health and Physical Education
Ver 0.6 finish adding in all achievement objectives... redo the code to accept ' and "

To do,
Add in a unit plan template, include drop down boxes of Key Competencies
Schools can look at adding in units of work to see how they match up under faculties



when selecting these are copied into the clipboard

dealing with stats

Tonight I had a conversation about stats. NCEA stats in particular. Earlier this year I wrote a website that linked in with NCEA technology and digital technologies data., now comes the tricky part. Should this be extended to all Achievement Standards for every subject.