Diary of a Lead Teacher: cracking cryptography

Author: Jo Hodge, Lead Teacher

Apologies, for this blog being a little later than normal but this term has been nothing but normal! I am sure you are feeling the strain of home learning either as a teacher or a parent! Very soon though, we will all hopefully be able to hug each other again and deliver face-to-face fantastic Digital Schoolhouse Workshops! Yay!

Last time, I finished on a bit of a cliff hanger as I had just delivered day 1 of my first ever Cryptography workshop, which despite technical and timings issues went really well. All the children were engaged and challenged by the clues set and this unit fitted brilliantly with their own Maths and Computing schemes of work. Prior to delivering this, luckily, I had tested it out on my Year 6 class because we were studying WW2. (By the way, if you have boys not engaging then try out this unit as they were fascinated and competing to be the first to solve the clues to find the murderer! Great way to include mastery on mathematics into your computing curriculum too). This means that I was not surprised that the tasks enthused the children and motivated them but they did take longer than I thought to solve.

Anyway, back to day 2 the workshop…

So, after a reasonably successful day 1, I had to do a lot of tweaking for the next session, due to the fact we had run out of time. I added funky timers to the ppt to make sure we could fit in all of the activities to enable them to solve the murder at the end – no point doing all the clues and not solving it!

This worked well, and more importantly provided pace and even more challenge to the workshop, keeping the more able children engaged. Adrian, the class teacher, managed to sort the technical problems with sound so everything went off without a hitch. One of the other issues from day 1 was that resources were being given out for each task as we did them – we both agreed much better to have everything in a pack ready to go along with any computing devices too due to time limitations! This meant we could ‘crack’ on (pardon the pun!) with the clues.

Again, the children were loving the tasks set and we finally got to solve the murder who was…maybe book the workshop to find out more! In both sessions, we managed to get the children to also feedback their ideas – definitely challenging when online! But somehow it worked out OK? However, nothing will ever replace seeing the children’s faces as they solve problems i.e. the personal interaction. There are positives to being online though as you can appear in any classroom around the world!

All in all, I was happy with my first DSH workshop and enjoyed particularly delivering the Cryptography one as it fitted so well with our History topic too. A steep learning curve, but one which has proved extremely useful over the past few weeks. Who knew 10 months ago that we’d be delivering blended learning by be recording lessons, using online platforms to deliver live lessons and having class catchups using Google Meet? Obviously, workshops planned are being moved to next term, but I am working on making mini-moments to be shared online in order to promote the wonderful range of Digital Schoolhouse resources. Watch this space everyone!

Good luck with your remote education and maybe (if you have time!) book a Digital Schoolhouse workshop!

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