Diary of a Lead Teacher: Decorating decomposition

Author: ejwebster

This month, Year 3 have been busy engaging with some unplugged activities using the secondary facilities.

Unlike traditional ICT lessons, children have been getting hands-on with 3D printing devices, creating Christmas decorations to sell at our Christmas fair.

The focus of their learning was decomposition – an understanding of all the elements of the outcome before it is created.

Students were introduced to the task and began initially looking at 2D shapes. They considered the properties of each shape as well as the sizes required for their decoration. The students needed to think about how these shaped fitted together; would they need to increase or decrease the size of individual shapes? How could they use a variety to create their ultimate aim? They also needed to think about how these 2D shapes could ‘shape-shift’ into 3D ones! They drew the shapes using pencil and paper, gradually building up a picture of their final decoration.

Having a play with the 3D pens was a vital step in the process, of course! As we know, play is the way in which we familiarise ourselves with unknown surroundings and equipment and children were encouraged to try out different techniques and colours, asking questions and being guided as they did so.

Students were then able to have some trials runs of their decoration, honing their technique as they went. The sense of excitement and awe in the room was inspiring. Students engaging with a medium never encountered before through a decomposed method enabled them to fully engage with the task and understand more than just how to use the ‘fancy pen’! Decomposition is the perfect way for young people to learn about new technologies and how they have practical uses as well as an element of fun.

On another note, E-SAFETY has also been a focus for the beginning of this last half term. For obvious reasons, it is highly important for children to be aware of the dangers of going online and be able to articulate how to keep themselves safe. Students have been accessing age-appropriate sessions on how to be vigilant when using technology and what dangers to look out for. In Year 1, we made the connection with our homes, treating our presence on the internet with keeping our front door open. We wouldn’t want just anyone walking in and looking around all of our things. Children showed a really mature attitude when discussing rules for using computers, tablets and the internet, creating some fantastic and informative posters for our classroom.

I have also been considering the deeper implications of e-safety, particularly in relation to the evolution of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. How do we ensure we use machines and robots appropriately in order to remain human ourselves?

I have also been considering how we can prepare children for life in an A.I. world with jobs that don’t even exist yet. A world that uses 3D pens to create Christmas decorations!

I think the way in which we really need to prepare for this new 4th industrial age is to realise what makes us human. Finding the pleasure to exist is the difference between us and machines, including anthropomorphic robots. And how do we achieve this pleasure? Through engaging with our creative self, with or without technology.

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