I took this idea from my teaching coach, and I’ve started trying it this week. Basically they get a stamp for a good lesson. Targets are on the form, all three must be met for a stamp. Lesson 1 today saw around one-third of the class get a stamp, but they all wanted one, so maybe lesson 2 will be different! Feel free to adapt and share onwards with no restrictions. Download link is below. NB the headphones mentioned are from Poundland, don’t tell the kids! 🙂
This is not just showing off, I thought this display might be of use to other Computing teachers. The process of designing an algorithm and the ability to transform algorithms from flowchart to pseudocode to program code is vital, so I put it on my wall. Attached is the Word Doc (yes, I know, hardly hi-tech but it works), and the finished picture. Enjoy.
It occurs to me that a lot of what has become reasonably automatic for me in the last two years (PGCE and NQT years) might not be everyone’s experience. So here are a few tips for new teachers based on my own experience.
- Save everything, preferably digitally. I use OneNote as my school has an Office365 account, and everything I find useful goes in there. I take notes at meetings, save ideas on the fly, capture stuff from Twitter and other online sources. You never know when it will come in handy. Good digital notebooks include Evernote and Google Keep too.
- Learn names. This was hard for me but nothing kills your confidence than getting students’ names wrong, or not knowing them. I had one class last year with two Niamhs and a Neve, which doesn’t help. But once I knew the names – and better still, knew something about them – I was much more in control and confident. Take a class photo if you can, or print one off from SIMS if possible, and revise at home. Do some activities early in the year such as “
- alliteration” (the kids have to come up with an alliterative nickname eg. Dancing Dean, Singing Sophie etc.) and learn those names!
- Smile. This might be hard if you’re under pressure. But kids will relax and enjoy your lessons if you look like you’re enjoying them. So in return you get better behaviour. It’s tricky but rewarding. Don’t feel you have to compromise on behaviour, just smile while being firm! Be warm but strict… more here.
- Capture the kids. By this I mean save data on them, we’re not talking the Choky from Matilda. I use Excel, like almost everyone else. I download the marksheet from SIMS at the start of the year, format nicely and then add columns. These are the columns I add:
- Quality of book notes (2 cols: grade A/B/C and notes) twice every half term
- Formative assessment grade twice every half term
- Summative assessment once every half term
- Teaching and Learning notes: support needed etc.
- “About me”: what they like, aspire to etc. (from first lesson captured by Edmodo)
- Remember why you’re doing this. Read “Teach Like a Pirate” and write down your passions, and keep them close. Put your favourite inspirational quotes up on the wall and share them with your students. You’ll forget, once in a while. Why not feign exasperation and ask the kids “why do I do this?” and see who replies “because we’re the future, Sir, you’re training us to clean up your mess, innit!” – guaranteed to bring that smile back.
Yes, that is my dog, Casper, in the picture. Be like Casper. With less tongue, perhaps.
Teaching is hard work, but enjoyable. And to me, planning to teach is not work at all, it’s play. Let me explain.
I am on holiday in the Dordogne, and it is 30 degrees already (10:45 CET) but I am blogging after cleaning the pool then doing some quick research and “link stashing” on Diigo (more later). This afternoon I will have a swim and sit by the pool reading “Guerilla teaching” and catching up with blogs and TED talks.
If you’ve met me you will know that what I like doing most is teaching, followed by talking about teaching. I can probably put “planning to te
ach” and “reading about teaching” somewhere on that continuum, all higher than, say, marking, and all of those are stratospheric compared to DIY and gardening.
So yesterday evening I had the great pleasure of drinking cold Kronenbourg while watching TED talks and Robotics videos on YouTube, playing with algorithm visualisations and organising my bookmarks about all of them. I learned, about quantum entanglement , robots that swim and considered buying 3d model specs for “logic goats”.
I’ve already finished “Teach Like a Pirate” this holiday and I’m now on “Guerrilla Teaching” before switching to novels for a while. As Dave Burgess says in TLAP, my brain will continue to process the ideas in both books subconsciously while I enjoy the non-teaching material.
But then I read this article in the Guardian’s “Secret Teacher” column. “By working in the holidays, teachers are showing that they don’t need them, that they needn’t be paid well for the time they allocate to a crucial job that is supposed to improve society. They are devaluing themselves.”
Hmm, now I said earlier, I love planning for teaching, I stash away ideas, I refocus on what is important. I learn “soft” skills (thanks @BurgessDave for making me remember my passions) and subject knowledge (I practiced coding by writing some JPEG image filters in Python). For this work I feel more confident about September.
Should I have done this? Or tried to find the time in September? I don’t know, apart from the self-knowledge that tells me I would be much more nervous about starting school, less centred, less well-prepared mentally if I did nothing over the holidays.
Confucius is quoted as saying “Find a job you love and never work again”, and this sums up my attitude to teaching. I will always “work” in the holidays because it’s fun.
I used the excellent “Squirrel Eat Squirrel” pygame program from Al Sweigart at the Invent With Python blog. I made a worksheet to help the students through analysis of the code. They had to use all their coding skills to decipher the finished code, and to “hack” it – change things and improve the code. I’ll elaborate later. Enjoy!
We’re having some work done on the house, as you can see. But wait, that’s not your average smartphone pic from out the window, what’s that URL snippet?
Yes, I set up a webcam to watch the builders at work. As a teacher I don’t have any time to watch, but still.. it’s a geek project and I’m a geek. This is how I did it. For free…
- Find an old device. I have a Tesco Hudl that nobody uses any more. You could use an old smartphone.
- Install an IP webcam app. I use IP Webcam Others are available. Configure it and point it where you need it. Mine is in the bedroom window. While you’re at it, get the device powered up constantly, so you’ll need a charger and cable that reaches to the device.
- View the webcam on your local network. You must find out the IP address of your device, usually by logging in to your router. Mine is a Virgin SuperHub and it’s there under DHCP. So the device is 192.168.1.20 today. Great, point your browser at http:// 192.168.1.20: 8080 you should see the webcam interface. Super!
- While you’re in your router, you have to make sure the device stays on the same local IP address, this is called DHCP reservation. Get it’s current address reserved. So far so good, you have a webcam you can view when you’re on your home LAN!
- To make the webcam visible outside your home, you need to go back into your router settings. Find “Port Forwarding” and forward the port (8080) for the device’s IP address (192.168.1.20) to the internet. This makes the webcam visible to the outside world.
- You’re nearly done. Find out your current IP address – open a command prompt and type “ipconfig” on Windows or open Terminal and type “ifconfig” on a Mac – or because it’s C21 and we’re lazy… type “whats my ip” into Google. Say it’s 22.214.171.124 for argument’s sake. Type “126.96.36.199:8080” into the address bar. Boom! Webcam on the web!
- Because home IP addresses change often, you might want to set up “Dynamic DNS”. This means you can use a URL to access your home IP address and when it changes, the DNS entry for your URL changes to point at your new address. I use “FreeDNS” from afraid.org, they are geeks but… it’s free and does the biz. If youre a geek too, set this up.
- If your device keeps going to sleep or going offline, you need a “keep alive” app. Try this one. Now you’re done, and like me, you can watch builders do nothing for much of the day!
I post this for two reasons:
a) to prove I am still a geek
b) in case I ever forget how to do it. Time and tide etc…
Have a great half term.
I’m preparing some materials to refresh the walls of my classroom, during half term. I’ve grabbed some free posters from CAS etc. but I could not find what I really wanted, a Mind Map of the course. So I made one.
Above is a screengrab. I made this with the free open-source FreeMind tool. It’s a bit of a minefield of a tool, but I tried it because it is free and creates only XML so my data will never get locked in. As the makers of FreeMind say “If you have a lot of maps created by FreeMind and you want to switch to another program, writing a conversion program should be easy, especially if that program features Visual Basic scripting facility.” – Er, yes, no problem for this CS teacher. Ahem.
So if you like this, here is a link to a zip file on my Google Drive of various formats to use with FreeMind. I particularly like the clickable HTML, but I have not yet worked out how best to exploit it. Ideas welcome!