Thursday, February 17, 2011

Week 2

Week 2

As I write this I’m sitting in a car at a local near by High School (7:30am), I’m attending a IT Curriculum Area Team Meeting (CATS) which will discuss some of the goals and targets the local high schools will aim to meet during the year.

Week 2 was interesting, the students had got over the ‘shyness’ that always comes with Week 1 and were much more ‘alert’ in the very general sense. Our students may come from tough backgrounds; however there this is constant spark in them that never seems to subside. That spark may turn to anger and frustration ... sure... but what it also gives me is a hope that on a continual basis I can change a student so that the spark they carry becomes a positive and the learning they engage in connects with them.

I won’t lie and say Week 2 was a breeze because by around Wednesday/Thursday I had my first dreaded ‘what am I doing here’ thought. The LEGO course work was continuing but I had been given a new class and although they engaged initially enough with the program I quickly realised that this class was flow over from another.

My Year 10 Multimedia class continued with the work they had been set but I was hit with a few technical issues and tapping into that ‘spark’ some of the boys had was becoming difficult.

On the positives I know in my mind where I want to take the LEGO courses and that is not to say I have it all mapped out but I’m excited as I begin to make the connections in terms of the schools overall literacy goal. Originally I had ‘mini projects’ lined up solely for the two year levels I teach but I want to attempt running a ‘story’ project that connects the Year 9 students with the Reception to Year 2 kids.

I can’t really write too much about the idea at the moment because the ideas are fermenting. I did conduct a slight ‘experiment’ with the students on building a bigger robot and out of 60+ lego students only 6/7 were at a stage willing to attempt the more complicated build.

I’ve identified a few reasons why:
Purpose - why are we building a bigger/better robot?
Access - the pieces are currently in boxes jumbled together and unless the students have the inner ‘lego nerd’ factor (as I did during my teenage years) then they will quickly lose interest at trying to find the pieces - I’m working rapidly on developing a new solution.

As the week ended I knew that ‘small successes...’ had to be my motto. I have huge goals personally to try and achieve at MOC over the next 3/4/5 years and that belief/drive call it whatever you want will override those ‘slam in the wall’ moments I had during Week 2.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, February 7, 2011

Week 1

Hi Everyone,

My to-do list for this blog is ever growing however I thought it was important to share my reflections from my first teaching week at MOC. We started the first day roasting in 42 degrees Celsius weather which put everyone in a weird mode. The students looked great in brand new uniforms which definitely from a teachers perspective saw heads held higher than normal.

I'm taking the LEGO robotics and Multimedia classes this year which is quite exciting. All 3 subjects come with a blank slate in terms of curriculum material so the courses are evolving nearly every minute. Robotics in general over the course of the week was great - the classes are quite large with most around the 25 mark. In terms of initial 'wow' factor the students got into it and participated from the outset.

The challenge with a program as large what we are attempting with LEGO robotics is to keep every single student actively challenged and stimulated whilst acknowledging all will be at different points. To this end I'm going to endeavour in writing a manual for teachers and schools looking to deploy LEGO robotics in large classes with students having extremely wide and varied learning backgrounds (more on this in a future post).

Surprises for me during the LEGO class was the speed in which the robots were constructed. Most students built and were ready to program in under 10 minutes. I wasn't sure what speed to expect the robots to be built but certainly didn't expect anything that rapid! Classes during the week got a feel of the sensors and basic manipulation of the robots. This coming 2nd week we'll focus on the students being able to statistically document what the robots are doing - drawing major links with mathematics.

A surprise for the students was my use of 2 iPads to demonstrate a program they had to build. In the previous lesson all 3 different classes were given the program on paper and aside from 1-2 groups the rest of the student struggled to concentrate/copy out the program onto their computers. This changed rapidly when I presented the iPads and my screen captured video of the programming process.

Most students were happy to watch, pause and rewind when needed and had the program constructed in under 15 minutes. Building a collection of 'screen captured' video programs for students to access will be something that I continue.

The Multimedia class is very different to my LEGO classes and one that the initial 'excitement or engagement' factor is much harder at first to spark. Students choose this class however many come into it with a love of multimedia from very different perspectives. From an online vote I setup the results of students interests in multimedia came in at:

Sound - 25%
Images - 25%
Video - 25%
Text - 12%
Drawing - 12%

Figures like this suggest to keep the class not only engaged but productive in the work they hand up the tasks set have to hit 'home' in both content and method of construction. At the moment I've begun setting up my class using StudyWiz to distribute tasks and as a form of communication with the students outside of school. This VLE will also serve as an instrument for students to discuss and plan the 'individualised' assignments many of them crave.

This has just been a short summary of a long week and I'll be posting a few podcasts/vodcasts in the coming weeks.