Here’s a link to my first two articles for the Guardian Teacher Network about teaching Computing for the first time.
Influenced by a strong moral purpose to give students exciting, challenging lessons and a balance of computer science, IT & digital literacy, this time last year I started planning to deliver Computing. The first thing my lizard brain (see Seth Godin’s post) shouted out was “Ahhhhh coding, coding, codinggggg!!!” At this point it would have been quite easy to not make the change, but returning to my moral purpose of improving the experience for the students I teach, I decided to carry on. Over the last year I have learnt a lot (blog post reflecting on my first year teaching Computing is coming soon!) about Computing and engagement / challenge for students is up in lessons.
If you are reading this post there is a good chance you are either considering introducing, in the midst of planning or have already been teaching Computing. Below are some things I’ve learnt (loosely resemble ‘top tips’ – sounds a bit cheesy and I’m by no means an expert!) over the last year that I thought I’d share.
1. Practice makes better. Don’t put off learning to program, start now, right now after reading this. Go to code academy (http://www.codecademy.com) or Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org/cs) or one of the other many online tutorial sites.
2. Do ‘little and often’ to ensure you remember what you learnt previously.
3. Accept failure as part of the journey to success. It’s unlikely you’ll get everything right first time, but be courageous and give it a go. Learn from your mistakes, that’s what we keep telling the students isn’t it?!
4. Start a Computing Club and use it as a laboratory to road test new technologies, activities , e.t.c. before trying them in class.
5. Join Computing at School (http://community.computingatschool.org.uk/door). CAS’s online community hosts 100’s of free resources for teaching Computing. They also have a number of ‘Master Teachers’ who are hand to answer questions and offer support, forum’s, CPD events and regular Hub meetings around the country.
6. Use Twitter to extend your PLN. I received help from a number of people on twitter who checked my program’s and tutored me through some of the GCSE level programming problems.
7. Make use of student guru’s. If you have students in your class that are already quite competent programmers, use them. Ask them to explain who they solved a problem and peer teach others.
8. Be honest. If you don’t know they answer to a question, be honest and say so. Turn it into an activity to find the answer. Take part in the learning journey with your students.
9. Shrink the change. Try focusing on one thing at a time. Introduce a couple of Computing modules at KS3 first and get use to teaching programming to solve problems. Then think about introducing a GCSE option the following September.
10. Accept that students have more time to spend becoming an expert then you do!
11. Continue being remarkable.
You can find a list of resources I have built up over the last year HERE. I will be adding to this list regularly and if you would like to share an online resource (video, website, blog, e.t.c.) please leave a comment on the Google Doc and I’ll add it in.
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