Meet Martin: Diary of a Lead Teacher author 2020-2021

Author: Martin Sexton, Lead Teacher

The Diary of a Lead Teacher is back! Showcasing our teachers and the amazing things they get up to each month, successes as well as challenges and a whole lot of creativity! 

Meet Martin Sexton, Lead Teacher at Mildenhall College Academy!

Martin Sexton is the Digital Schoolhouse lead teacher at secondary academy and sixth form in Suffolk- Mildenhall College Academy. The academy is part of the Academy Transformation Trust which has primary schools as well as secondary. Martin has been a lead teacher for just over a year and has thoroughly enjoyed delivering workshops for different primary schools, even though it can be a bit daunting teaching year 3! One of his passions is helping students to enjoy computational thinking as much as he does.

Read Martin's first blog, below:

November 30, 2021

It is safe to say that this year has been anything but ordinary. Last year was our first as a Digital Schoolhouse and ended with the lockdown which prevented us being able to deliver as many workshops as we would have liked to.

We have come back to this academic year with ‘bubbles’, ‘unprecedented times’, ‘blended learning’ and a vast array of other buzz words. We knew this year that workshops and our training days would have to run differently and Teams, Zoom etc. has allowed us to do this.

Being part of the Digital Schoolhouse programme has provided more opportunities than just delivering lessons to primary school students, which is something I never thought I would do, let alone enjoy doing! It allows us as a secondary school to understand how primary schools work and the issues they face with teaching computing. It has also allowed us to link up with other secondary school staff to share ideas about workshops but also to share ideas about teaching our own classes at our ingenuity days. Some of the training and informal discussions have really changed how I think about teaching computing and have given me lots of new ideas.

We have continued to offer workshops this year and have been promoting these with our trust, during Computing at school meetings and through communications with local schools. In order to be able to run these, we have ordered some sets of cameras, speakers and microphones to lend out to primary schools who choose our virtual workshop offer.

As with doing anything new for the first time, there were a few teething problems to navigate in our first online workshop. We had an issue with the microphone at the primary school not working properly but they could hear me and I could still see them. We persevered with the class teacher using the chat to type in responses to questions and keep me informed of the students’ progress. We also had an issue with video clips not streaming properly so we made sure we shared the videos in advance so these could be played from the primary school end rather than streaming it which worked well. Another minor issue was students struggling to concentrate on an online meeting for a long time. Frequent breaks and use of tasks where they don’t need to focus on the screen is definitely key to enjoyable experience for the students throughout the session.

This term, we have run two workshops so far with nearly 60 students benefitting from learning about algorithms with the use of computers before moving on to programming in Scratch or using Bee-Bots (not strictly part of the original workshop but it was great to see some dancing Bee-Bots).

The first session was a year 3 class at Moulton CEVC school, talk about throwing yourself in the deep end. The youngest I had taught before then was year 5 and here I was deciding to teach year 3 through Teams. I adapted the ‘Get with the Algorythm’ workshop with this class. Starting off with unplugged activities to get students writing algorithms for simple dances. This would normally then lead to a session on making a dance routine in Scratch. Instead we made use of Bee-Bots, with students creating dance routines by planning an algorithm with a Fakebot and then programming this into their Bee-Bot.

The second session was again delivered to a class at Moulton CEVC school, but this time it was a year 4 class. For this workshop I adapted the ‘Crazy Mazes’ workshop to go along with their Anglo Saxons topic work. Instead of a spider maze game, the aim was to create a Maze for an Anglo-Saxon warrior to find treasure as he goes from village to village to try to conquer parts of the UK. As with the previous workshop, this one starts with unplugged activities to teach students about the importance of specific instructions.

Over the coming months, we hope to run more workshops. Hopefully it won’t be long until they can run in person as nothing beats the interaction when in the same room and being able to see even more clearly how much the students enjoy the sessions that have been

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