Diary of a Lead Teacher: exams and experimenting!

Author: Martin Sexton, Lead Teacher

The first half term of the summer term has been busy. With exams moderations coming up, I was glad that I had pre booked some workshops before the Easter break. Knowing that I didn’t need to arrange any workshops made it easier to focus on our year 11 and 13 students.

Over the last term, I have been experimenting with a different format to the workshops. Some of the schools had asked to split my time with them between two classes. This has meant that sessions have been cut to an hour so that I can run the session with one class and then repeat it with another afterwards. I then visited the same school again to deliver another hour to each class, leaving the rest of the resources for the class teachers to deliver it. Delivering it in this format has meant that the teachers have been able to see how a scheme might fit in with their normal Computing lesson time.

The workshops this term have been based around Crazy Mazes. Another favourite of mine which shows a range of programming techniques, is easily customisable to any topic area and has a range of unplugged activities to get students really excited about the work. This time running the workshop was one of the most challenging. Due to the school being too far away to easily get students to us, I visited them so had to make do with their resources. The school only had iPads with no keyboards. This meant that extra changes were needed for the resources so that they could work with a touch screen. This was relatively straightforward (arrow sprites with a little code on each) but did prove problematic at times when students accidentally deleted these sprites. Nevertheless, the workshop went well and the students really enjoyed the sessions.

After half term, I have a few workshops already booked with these students coming to us. These are students from our feeder schools so will hopefully also get them really excited about joining us in the next year or two.

As we near the end of the year, I am starting to reflect on the impact we have had. So far this year we have taught over 300 students and have had over 20 staff supporting the sessions and hopefully learning how Computing can be taught with a range of activities, even with little access to computers. Our best numbers so far since joining Digital Schoolhouse and this is with having the best part of a term where we couldn’t run any workshops. We are really looking forward to continuing next year and reaching even more students.