Category: Regional Improvement Collaborative

Bebras Computing Challenge at Portlethen Academy

post by Ian Simpson (@familysimpson), Faculty Head of ICT at Portlethen Academy (@portyacad)

What is the Bebras Computing Challenge?

The Bebras Computing Challenge is a long-running international competition which promotes the importance of computational thinking and problem solving skills in a wider world context. It is organised in over 50 countries and designed to get students aged 6 to 18 from all over the world excited about computing.

Students have to employ a variety of problem-solving strategies in order to complete up to 18 challenges in the allotted time. High scoring students may be lucky enough to qualify for a celebration event which, in previous years, has taken place at Hertford College, Oxford.

Why we entered the competition

At Portlethen Academy all S1-3 students take part in the competition, with those in senior phase given the chance to participate as part of their Computing Science or Mathematics classes. Every individual who takes part receives a digital certificate from the University of Oxford which can be printed out in school or at home and those who achieve scores in the top 25% of the cohort are invited to take part in the TCSOCC Challenge in February as recognition of their strong computational thinking skills and to increase their exposure to computer programming problems.

Faculty Head of ICT Ian Simpson has coached groups of students to take part in the Bebras Computing Challenge since 2013. “To get the best out of the groups it shouldn’t be an add on or break from ‘normal lessons’, it is in the school’s best interest to embed teaching of computational thinking skills and prepare for the challenge using the practice challenges or the Perfect Day app.”

What pupils learnt from it

Seven students from S1 and 2 scored highly enough in the 2019 challenge to receive an invitation to the celebration event at Hertford College in January 2020. Thanks to support from contacts at Total and Aberdeenshire DYW six were able to travel to Oxford to take part in the final round, experience Computing Science sample lectures and find out more about life as a student at the University of Oxford. Ian Simpson added “This was the first time that such a high number of students from a state school in Aberdeenshire had qualified for the final round. It was a surprise in some ways but testament to the hard work the students put in preparing for the challenge.”

As well as giving students the chance to think creatively and apply their knowledge from across a variety of subject areas the Bebras Computing Challenge helps build student resilience. These skills have increasing demand in further and higher education and will serve them well in the workplace of the future. Taking part in the final round also gave the students increased confidence in their own abilities and, on the drive back to Heathrow, many were sharing strategies they had learned from other participants to improve on their scores next year.

Sign up for Bebras here.

 

Inspiring Digital Enterprise Awards, Grove Academy

iDEA Awards, Grove Academy

Gavin Pyott, PT Computing Science

I became aware of the iDEA awards by chance when it was first launched 3 years ago. I can’t explain how glad I am that I did. The programme is so well written and produced that all learners are drawn into the modules and are keen to do more. Due to the positive impact iDEA had with classes in my department l began promoting the awards and encouraging others to use it within their schools. As a result of this l was awarded the title of Teacher Ambassador from iDEA.  

The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, known as iDEA, is an international programme that helps students develop and demonstrate digital, enterprise and employability skills.

Since its launch, iDEA has established itself as the digital equivalent of The Duke of Edinburgh Award. The iDEA awards are recognised by universities and employers so are a great addition to any student’s CV.

The iDEA awards allow students to map their knowledge and understanding of the digital world through a series of modules (badges).

The badges have been designed to unlock new opportunities and raise awareness of the diverse range of careers in our digital world, all the while allowing students to gain an industry recognised award to help them stand out from the crowd.

To achieve a Bronze Award, students need to earn a minimum of 250 points, including at least 40 points in each of the core categories of the curriculum: Citizen, Worker, Maker and Entrepreneur.

CITIZEN BADGES cover digital awareness, safety and ethics.

WORKER BADGES introduce tools and techniques which are useful in the digital workplace.

MAKER BADGES cover digital creativity and building and making in the digital world.

ENTREPRENEUR BADGES explain how to originate ideas and bring them to life.

GAMER BADGES investigate gamification techniques and help people learn how to make games.

These badges are all very informative and explain complex concepts in a straightforward, easy to understand, way. All badges are designed to be interactive, allowing pupils to answer questions as they go, building up their knowledge step-by-step.

To help track student progress iDEA have launched ‘organiser codes’ and the organiser area. This allows you to provide pupils with a simple code to add to their iDEA profiles. This will then pull the progress charts for each pupil together into a handy, easy to use spreadsheet.

After completing the Bronze award, many pupils volunteer to move on to the Silver. Unlike Bronze, the Silver award has been written as a series of topics. Each topic is story-based with students being guided through a real-life scenario as they discover the skills required to progress.

Due to the amazing quality and excellent writing in the badges in the programme the target audience range has really been opened up. I have successfully delivered the iDEA award in S1, S2 and S3. We now have pupils is S4-6 who are also tapping into the programme as it has caught their attention. iDEA also works great in an upper primary setting. My own daughter liked the look of the badges and had a go herself. She successfully completed the Bronze award in Primary 6 and completed her Silver when in Primary 7. Not wanting to stop there she completed a total of 50 Bronze badges to become ‘Badge Champion’ and completed the remaining Silver topic to become a

‘Silver Star’. This determination to complete the modules has been replicated by students in my classes who applied the Pokemon ‘got to get them all’ approach to the badges and awards. I have to admit, I have done this too! The iDEA badges are so interesting and informative I found I couldn’t stop either! As an introduction to a new concept (block chain) or to brush up existing skills the iDEA Award is great CLPL for staff too.

Mr Pyott has created a Sway which will give you a full introduction to the work and process involved in using iDEA and his top tips. To view click here.

To see more from Mr Pyott you can visit his Twitter feed on @MrPyott

To see more from Grove Academy, please visit their Twitter feed on @Grove_Academy

You can find out more on iDEA Awards via https://idea.org.uk/ 

Race for the Line Event by Liz Dighton at Boroughmuir High School

On a rather cold, but thankfully dry, Wednesday all 220 of our S1 pupils were involved in an inter-disciplinary project which was part of the National BBC micro:bit Model Rocket Car Challenge called Race for the Line.  Over 400 schools from all over the UK are participating in the competition.  The inspiration behind the national project is the Bloodhound car which is attempting to beat the 1000mph world land speed record and also inspire the next generation of engineers to get involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.  #STEM 

In Design and Technology classes leading up to the Race Day, pupils worked together in teams of 4 to make a foam rocket car creating a design folio which showed how they had considered aerodynamics, friction etc.  In Computing classes the pupils programmed the Micro:bits which were used to carry out the timing mechanism on the race track and in Science they explored the forces which would be applied to the cars. 

On Race Day we were joined in school by a team from the Royal Navy who are based at Rosyth and are members of the crew of the new aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales.  The Navy team equipped each car with a solid fuel rocket and setup the Race Track in the playground.  Each class took turns to race their cars and the times were recorded for each car.  The Navy had brought along one of their PT instructors so to keep warm pupils carried out a fitness test with a couple of our S1’s managing to reach the fitness standard for the Royal Navy while wearing their school shoes!!!  After racing the cars the pupils then used our new Dual teaching space on the 3rd floor to create some posters to summarise their learning in this project.  Some of these are now on display in the classrooms around the school. 

The top 3 car teams went forward to the Regional Final on the 3rd of May when they competeagainst all of the teams from other school in East Central Scotland @ the Royal Navy facility at Rosyth and 3 also qualified for the Scottish Final at the Barracks at Redford.   

 

 

 

Ada Lovelace Day – Opening Opportunities with Digital Technology by Emma Hedges

Digital technology skills are one of my favourite things to teach because of the opportunities and experiences they provide pupils with. I have taught children who struggle with putting pen to paper, however when provided with the correct technology they flourish. The technology we use in the classroom has allowed my pupil’s imaginations and creativity to come to life and it has boosted the confidence of shy children, allowing them to become more animated and involved with their learning.

Technology allows learners to engage in their education in ways that haven’t always been possible. I hope that this will allow my pupils, who may previously have disengaged from education, to go on to explore avenues that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible.

 

Fun fact: Ada Lovelace and I share a birthday, just a few hundred years apart!

@MissHedgesVPS

12 November 2020 16:00-17:00, Practitioner Examples of Blended Learning in Primary

The Webinar will look at the tools and pedagogy used in this first term, the digital tools used and their impact on learners.

About this Event

Delivered by Andrew Boulind and Rory Buchanan from St Joseph’s RC School, Aberdeen.

Open to all practitioners, Glow Login Required

The Webinar will look at how Blended Learning has been used on return at the start of this new session 2020-2021 and its impact on the learners. After having returned in August form Lockdown, we felt it was important to utilise the digital skills the learners had gained as well as improving pupil engagement, motivation, and challenge by using a blended approach to learning in the classroom. By maintaining this blended approach, we have been able to provide a differentiated and more personalised approach to learning.

Although technology has played an important part in our classes it has been important to create a stimulating environment in the classroom where the displays demonstrate a range of curricular areas and are accessible and used to reinforce learning.

By using our variation of Blended learning, the pupils have been leading the learning. It was vital for us that learning was relevant and built on previous online learning. The approach has made sure that pupils are aware of learning expectations and know how to be successful in their learning, whether online or in class.

Learners are engaging in various types of learning experiences, online, in class and in groups. Learners are encouraged to develop high order thinking strategies in their classwork using the and online activities. Due to the use of online assessment tools the Learners are aware of feedback and can act rapidly on this. Digital technology is a feature of learning with both in class as well as at home. After the lockdown and the possibility that they had more “textbook type activities” it has been important to provide them with activities that they can relate their learning to real life contexts.

The Webinar will look at the tools and pedagogy used in this first term (August – October), the digital tools used and their impact on their learners. They will be examples of activities and pupil work as well as practical ideas and applications to take away from the session.

Register Here

Having the skills and opportunity to work with others using digital technology, Heriot Primary, Renfrewshire

Whenever I plan a lesson, I refer to the Digital Learner poster to ensure that I am incorporating at least one of these skills in my lesson. In my primary one class, we had been learning about shapes and their properties. In order to consolidate their learning, I brought out a shape mat and told them we were going to play a game where they had to travel from one shape to another using a Robot Mouse. This instantly grabbed their attention and I initially let them play around with the mouse to see what they knew and if anyone could work out how to programme the mouse.

A few of the children immediately recognised the arrows from games consoles and their computer keyboard. They began playing with the mouse, using words like forwards and backwards. I then stepped in to show them how to ‘clear’ their instructions and asked them to input one direction, press go and then press clear after the mouse carried out the instruction. This allowed all pupils to take part in the activity at a very basic level.

At this point, some of the children started to ask if they could do a “long move” to get the mouse there quicker. This then opened a discussion about how would you remember what instructions you had put into the mouse. A 4 year old boy suggested working with a partner, where one child could input the instructions into the mouse and the other child could use their hand, place it on the mat and move it along the squares on the mat following the instructions. Working together, the pupils managed to programme the mouse to move across the mat.

This was a great activity to introduce directional language, introduce the concept of coding, as well as ensure that the pupils were confident in being able to identify different shapes. Working together as a team, the pupils were quick to point out if the instruction was correct (that’s right, not left) and would help guide each other to the correct shape, especially if they mistook a pentagon for a hexagon.

 

Celebrating Computing Science on Ada Lovelace Day 2020 in Glasgow

Richard McKean from Glasgow City Council wanted to share a massive thanks from everyone involved in digital learning across Glasgow this Ada Lovelace Day:

“We are very proud of the digital leaders of learning we have in our Early Years Centres, Primary Schools and Secondary Schools as they support each other to ensure our children and young people have essential digital literacy and computing science skills.

Today on Ada Lovelace Day we would like to give a ‘Big Shout Out’ to the ten female primary teachers who, during lockdown, recorded lessons for primary children to develop their skills in digital literacy and computing science in a progressive and fun way. 

These recorded lessons are now being used by teachers and children in our schools across the city. Thank you to them!​”

 

 

Title image - Q and A

DigiLearnScot Webinar Q&A with Claire Eade, Meethill Primary School, Peterhead

We have been speaking to teachers across Scotland to find out more about their experiences of using digital technology to support their learners. In this Q&A Claire Eade, Class Teacher at Meethill Primary School in Peterhead, shares what she has learned from joining webinars to build digital skills and the top tips she would give to other educators on using digital technology. Look out for more Q&As soon!

 

How has your use of digital changed since schools closed in March? 

My use of digital has changed a huge amount. I had used Teams a little bit before schools closed but not to the extent we then needed to. Initially I had no idea how to navigate Teams and upload assignments but taking part in the digital skills webinars helped me with this greatly.

 

Which webinar/s from Education Scotland’s DigiLearn team did you join and why?

I joined the webinar on using mobile devices to enhance and capture language learning and I joined webinars on using Teams. I also joined the webinar on Google Classroom in case I ever need to use that.  

 

Why did you pick these webinars in particular?

The descriptions for these webinars sounded exactly like what I needed to help with teaching the children on-line.

 

How was the experience of joining an online webinar?

They were absolutely brilliant. They were so easy to join. I was sent a link and I just needed to click on it to access the webinar. It’s up to the webinar attendees whether they switch their camera and microphone on. You’re given the opportunity to put questions in and if these aren’t answered at the time then the DigiLearn team will come back to you with an answer later. The webinars are recorded so you also have the option to watch it later which is great in case there is anything you have forgotten.

 

What have you learned from joining these webinar/s to build digital skills?

I’ve learned that it is not essential for me to be face to face with the children to teach them. When schools closed I thought I really needed to be in front of the children to teach them but I’ve learned that we can absolutely teach them on-line.

 

How did you use these skills to support your learners? Tell us more.

These digital skills have helped me to support my learners in many ways. For example I’ve learned how to use screen capture so that I can show my pupils videos or PowerPoints. I can also record commentary over a PowerPoint so that I can highlight and explain different points to my pupils. I can also use the whiteboard tool to actually demonstrate examples to them and aid their understanding.

 

How have you used Glow to help you support learning at home?

I found Glow very useful for finding resources. For example, I found a great resource for teaching activities in French through Glow. I also saw posts from teachers on social media suggesting resources they had found using Glow which I could then go and look up. Glow has also been very useful for communication as my class regularly contacted me through my Glow email while schools were closed.

 

From your experience, what top tips would you give to other educators on using digital?

My top tip is don’t be scared! Don’t be scared to ask questions especially on the DigiLearn Teams group. It doesn’t matter what the question is, and you might think it is a silly question, but there is always someone else wanting to ask the same thing. I posted a question recently asking about how to archive my Team and I got a response back really quickly. It’s important to make use of the expert knowledge out there as there is always someone who can answer your question.

Delivering learning from school to home, Sarah Clark, Queen Anne High School

When schools returned face to face this year in August I had thought that at some point throughout the years some of my students would be working at home for an extended period of time due to covid. That ‘blended learning’ approach we had been planning for back in June would still be needed but didn’t think I would be doing it so soon!

I am a biology and science teacher at Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline. We are a Microsoft Showcase School and are very lucky to have 5 MIEExpert member of staff this year. Most of our students are familiar with Microsoft Teams accessing via Glow and staff have been using it to set work and assignments even as we are back in the building.

However in my 2nd full week of teaching I had my first student leave class to isolate at home and that’s when my blended learning approach needed to kick in. I had spoken to all my classes about how things were going to work in our class this year with specific channels set up for ‘Home Working’ and ’Live Lessons’ but I was still scratching my head about managing this now it was a reality.

Class tasks for my senior pupils were set as assignments in Teams so pupils at home could see what work was expected of them. I have all my board notes in a Class OneNote so all students can see what content we are covering but live lessons that students could join from home we’re going to ensure they could still be part of the class.

I set up a meeting in the ’Live Lessons’ channel in Teams and when the student would normally be in class they joined the meeting.

Now I have tech in my classroom having a desktop computer, interactive panel and a Surface Pro device also. This isn’t all needed though.

I join the meeting on my desktop computer and share the screen so that anything I write on the board can be seen by the students in my class but also by the student joining us from home. Unfortunately I have no microphone for my desktop so I needed to join the meeting on a second device. This was what my ‘surface’ was used for but this could be done with a phone or iPad. This device I place pointing towards me and the board (or even towards the class) and I turn the camera and microphone on. This is the device that is picking up what I say and the student can see me too. If the student has their camera on, I can see them, hear them and I am able to check the chat panel easily if they have a question. It is much easier to do this on the second device instead of changing  views repeatedly on the board. I have to turn the sound off on my desktop computer as we did get a terrible echo and there was a few issues if I was showing a video as the sound and image was delayed but overall it worked very well and the students were fully involved in the class. I was even able to put the second device in the absent students seat and they could communicate with their friends while working on a task.

So far I have had 7 live lessons with my higher and advanced higher biology classes and this head meant students haven’t missed any work, there is less need to catch up sessions when they return and they have completed the same work as everyone else in the class. For the student they have also felt sully included in the class and were able to connect with me as their classmates.

This synchronous learning model however is not suitable for all students or all classes. It’s important to ask students if they are able to join live lessons. For my s2 class I have been making short video clips (2-3 mins long) to introduce them to the task they are to do as well as a brief overview of what we covered in class. I have found Flipgrid great for this as I can add the video to the assignments in team along with the task instructions (see the link below for an example of my video). I don’t want to be creating lots of work for myself and it only take me a few minutes to make my video and upload time the Team.

I think since lockdown, as teachers we have learned a lot about how we use technology and how we can integrate it into our class everyday. For home learning I am hoping it can ensure no student missed out of learning because they are at home but also how I can use it to reduce my workload. Blended learning isn’t easy. I’ve gone round in circles the last few weeks and my model may change throughout the year but it’s a start and so far it’s working for me and my students. As a school we are supporting teachers with guides, CPD sessions and links to resource.

My tip would be to test it out with a colleague and iron out any teething problems you have. Let students know your plans and walk them through how to access, how to find the home learning tasks and how to submit.

Sarah Clark @sfm36

Delivering Learning and Teaching from home – Webinar Catch Up

Webinar in partnership with practitioners from the Scottish Borders and Fife

During this session, practitioners from Selkirk High School in the Scottish Borders and Queen Anne High School in Fife share how they have been delivering learning and teaching to pupils in school while having to be at home.