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A new year and fresh (re)start?
03 Sep 2015
Term has started for most if not all primary and secondary teachers by now so I hope I’m not too late in wishing everyone every success for the coming term! There was no doubt that last year was hard with the introduction of the new programme of study for Computing. Exciting too, I hope!
A very quick, short-fire, round up of some CAS activity happening right now …
- we’re launching 10 new CAS Regional Centres (CRC) with support from DfE as part of the Network of Excellence programme. I will publish a full news item about this very soon!
- the public website is being updated (as I type). This has been in a forlorn state for some time now and I’m really pleased with how the new site is coming on …
- lead schools will be getting their audit next week, so do look out for that :)
- the new register of CAS Master Teachers will go live very shortly
- we’ve been working with Morgan Stanley on a resource site for primary school teachers. Do take a look at Teach Primary Computing
- we’re fast approaching 20,000 members!!
- we’re launching a twitter chat #CASChat this term i.e. very soon
- the BCS Certificate is going from strength to strength with the addition of new course related material and support from our friends at Codio
- With funding from Google we are hard at work on producing high quality training packs for the CAS Master Teachers to deliver in your local area. The first packs will be trialed over the next few weeks. This is a really exciting project and will give much needed support and coherence to the training provided by Master Teachers and others
- Also, with Google funding, we are producing a series of videos to capture case studies of good practice in schools, CPD material, subject knowledge videos etc. which will build into a really valuable resource over the year
- Phew! What else ….? Ah yes, we’re working closely with colleagues in Korea, Malaysia and other European countries spreading the word about CAS, the importance of computing and how the particular ethos of CAS and professional generosity can be shared and replicated elsewhere
I know I’ll have forgotten something really, really important … so please forgive me there.
On a personal note one of my highlights last year was hearing the three teachers who presented first at the CAS Conference in Birmingham. Their brief was to speak for 10 mins or so on “It’s only been a year but …”. It was truly inspiring because they were telling us how it had been for them.
Sharing such stories is transformative and hugely powerful. It can be daunting to share our stories in this forum I know and it saddens me to read posts where people are prefacing their view with “Don’t shoot me down …”. Your “Tales from the classroom” are always inspiring, motivating and challenging - please keep them coming and if anyone “shoots at you” please let me know ;).
So, take deep breath, and let us know how it is going … go on!
Launch of CAS London!
23 Jul 2015
A lively networking-focused meeting was held to officially launch the Computing At School Regional Centre for London (CAS London)on Friday July 10th. CAS London will be coordinated by King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London in 2015-2016.
For the last two years, the Department for Education (DfE) have funded CAS to develop the Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science; through this CAS have recruited nearly 400 CAS Master Teachers to train and support their peers in preparing to deliver the new Computing curriculum. With renewed funding from the DfE, the Network of Excellence project is now going to be led regionally by 10 university partners, with KCL and QMUL taking responsibility for the London region.
The role of CAS London will be to support existing CAS Master Teachers, CAS Hub Leaders and CAS Lead Schools whilst growing the reach of Computing At School across London. The launch meeting consisted of a drinks reception followed by a series of short presentations. The attendees included CAS Master Teachers, CAS Hub Leaders, other CAS university partners from around London, and also representatives from a range of other agencies including London Grid for Learning (LGfL), the Greater London Authority (GLA), numerous Borough representatives and the BBC. It was a wide-reaching event that had a real buzz and enthusiasm. 19 out of 32 boroughs in London were represented.
During the drinks reception, participants were encouraged to add their comments to a range of displays on different topics - identifying what was going well (and not so well) regarding the Computing curriculum in primary and secondary education. Professor Paul Curzon from QMUL entertained attendees with a range of computer-science related magic tricks; a range of informational displays and resources were also provided to give attendees lots to look at and do.
Simon Humphreys introduced the presentation section of the meeting with a reminder of the aims and ethos of CAS ,explaining that a significant role of the CRC’s would be to nurture and support the education computing Communities of Practice, at the heart of which lie the CAS Master Teachers. This was followed by 18 presentations by some of those attending who had volunteered to share their activity in this space. They addressed the themes: ‘What is working well?’; ‘What is needed?’ and ‘What can I offer?’. Jane Waite and Trevor Bragg, who organised the event, closed with a presentation on what CAS London could offer and a willingness to work together with all other agencies involved with Computing in schools, as well as supporting the CAS Master Teachers.
We were also grateful to the King’s PGCE students for helping to set up displays, register attendees and take photographs of the event.
Computational Thinking for Educators
13 Jul 2015
How can you map the entire human DNA sequence? Is it really possible that William Shakespeare wrote all of the plays that bear his name? Can one design a computer program that creates novel music compositions?
Answering these questions requires computational thinking, a way of problem solving that educators around the world are using across disciplines. Whether you teach computer science, humanities, math, or science, computational thinking can be a powerful addition to your classroom activities. By integrating these skills into all subject areas, you can help better prepare your students to contribute new solutions to seemingly impossible problems.
Our new online course, Computational Thinking for Educators, is free and intended for anyone working with students between the ages of 13 and 18, who is interested in enhancing their teaching with creative thinking and problem solving. We’ll demonstrate how bringing computational thinking into your classroom simply enhances what you already do, enriching your lessons and student exploration, even if you don’t have access to technology. Another benefit to computational thinking is that it can help boost students’ confidence in dealing with ambiguous, complex, or open-ended problems. We believe all students should learn computational thinking, regardless of subject or age. You’ll also have the opportunity to complete a final project and earn a Google certificate. By integrating computational thinking skills into your discipline, you can help your students become technology creators and solve big problems using creativity!
Sound interesting? Check out our blog post and register now to join us and other educators around the world as we take on Computational Thinking for Educators. This course will run from July 15 - September 30, 2015.
BBC micro:bit launched!
14 Jul 2015
The BBC and partners today unveiled the BBC micro:bit – a pocket-sized, codeable computer that allows children to get creative with technology. In the BBC’s most ambitious education initiative for 30 years, up to 1 million devices will be given to every 11 or 12 year old child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK, for free.
Registration URL has gone live (July 14th 2015):
In the 1980s, the BBC Micro introduced many children to computing for the first time. Part of the BBC’s 2015 Make it Digital initiative, the BBC micro:bit builds on the legacy of the Micro for the digital age, and aims to inspire young people to get creative with digital; develop core skills in science, technology and engineering; and unleash a new generation of digital makers, inventors and pioneers.
The UK currently faces a critical skills shortage in the technology sector, and the BBC and our partners aim to help change that.
Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC says:
"Just as the BBC Micro introduced millions to personal computers 30 years ago, the BBC micro:bit can help equip a new generation with the digital skills they need to find jobs and help grow the UK economy. It's the unique role of the BBC that allows us to bring together an unprecedented partnership to deliver such an ambitious project."
The BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that you can code, customise and control to bring your digital ideas, games and apps to life. It measures 4cm by 5cm, will be available in a range of colours, and is designed to be fun and easy to use. Something simple can be coded in seconds – like lighting up its LEDs or displaying a pattern – with no prior knowledge of computing. All that’s needed is imagination and creativity.
The BBC micro:bit also connects to other devices, sensors, kits and objects, and is a great companion to Arduino, Galileo, Kano, littleBits and Raspberry Pi, acting as a spring-board to more complex learning.
Key features include:
25 red LEDs to light up, flash messages, create games and invent digital stories
Two programmable buttons activated when pressed. Use the micro:bit as a games controller. Pause or skip songs on a playlist.
On-board motion detector or 'accelerometer' that can detect movement and tell other devices you’re on the go. Featured actions include shake, tilt and freefall. Turn the micro:bit into a spirit level. Light it up when something is moved. Use it for motion-activated games.
A built-in compass or 'magnetometer' to sense which direction you’re facing, your movement in degrees, and where you are. Includes an in-built magnet, and can sense certain types of metal.
Bluetooth Smart Technology to connect to the internet and interact with the world around you. Connect the micro:bit to other micro:bits, devices, kits, phones, tablets, cameras and everyday objects all around. Share creations or join forces to create multi-micro:bit masterpieces. Take a selfie. Pause a DVD or control your playlist.
Five Input and Output (I/O) rings to connect the micro:bit to devices or sensors using crocodile clips or 4mm banana plugs. Use the micro:bit to send commands to and from the rings, to power devices like robots and motors.
Each element of the BBC micro:bit is completely programmable via easy-to-use software on a dedicated website (available later in the summer at microbit.co.uk) that can be accessed from a PC, tablet or mobile. Your personal area on the website will allow you to save and test your creations in a simulator before they are transferred to your micro:bit, and the available tools scale to be as complex as your ideas, imagination and skills require.
Sinead Rocks, Head of BBC Learning, says:
“We happily give children paint brushes when they’re young, with no experience - it should be exactly the same with technology. The BBC micro:bit is all about young people learning to express themselves digitally, and it’s their device to own. It’s our most ambitious education initiative for 30 years. And as the micro:bit is able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots and Raspberry Pis, this could be for the internet-of-things what the BBC Micro was to the British gaming industry.”
The micro:bit was first conceived by BBC Learning in 2012, and initially developed together with the BBC’s award-winning R&D department. The scale and scope of this unique initiative has only been made possible by an unprecedented collaboration between 29 international organisations, pioneering start-ups and transformative education organisations.
The BBC is the overall editorial and project lead for the micro:bit, coordinating the partnership, micro:bit development and delivery, learning resources and on-air and online inspiration for teachers, schools and makers across the UK.
Fundamental to the success of the BBC micro:bit, the BBC and partners will be working closely with teachers, educators and schools over the summer to ensure that resources, information and support are available in advance of micro:bit distribution this autumn, supporting the curriculum. BBC Learning will also provide resources including Live Lessons, getting started videos, projects and tutorials.
The BBC micro:bit will start to arrive in schools in late October, giving children a chance to settle into new schools, and teachers the opportunity to build this into lesson plans for the rest of the academic year.
The BBC micro:bit initiative aims to make a huge impact in 2015 with the BBC and its partners committed providing up to 1 million micro:bits before the end of the year. And it won’t stop there. The technical specifications for the device will be open-sourced, and the partnership plans to collectively develop a not-for-profit company to oversee and drive the micro:bit legacy. This will enable additional micro:bits to be made commercially available in the UK and internationally through various outlets in late 2015.
Sorry to see you go ....
30 Jun 2015
I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Mark Dorling every success as he leaves the staff of Computing At School to start his own company in the world of computing education.
Those of us who have had the privilege of working with Mark know him as a passionate advocate of Computing in schools who has worked tirelessly to make the CAS Network of Excellence the success it is today.
We’ll miss him enormously as a work colleague, but he isn’t really gone because we’ll continue to work with him as a CAS volunteer when he isn’t busy running his company. We wish him well and hope his new venture is massively successful. We know Mark will continue to be a highly active and valued CAS member in the months and years ahead.
NEW CAS Survey for Teachers
02 Jun 2015
Research is being conducted by a PhD student at the Institute of Education to look at how your participation in the CAS online community impacts your classroom teaching. Information from this survey will also be fed back to CAS to help us make improvements to the online community.
The survey will be open for 4 weeks (from 1 June - 26 June). It’s short ( <20 questions) and at the end of each week there will be a chance to win a £25 Amazon.co.uk voucher.
Help us make CAS a better online community for you. Click the link below to learn more and take the survey.
First teachers receive new Certificate in Computer Science Teaching
22 May 2015
The first teachers in the country to have completed the new BCS Certificate in Computer Science Teaching will receive their certificates at a special presentation in Birmingham next month.
The certificate enables teachers to demonstrate their teaching competence in the computer science elements of the new computing curriculum. Devised and implemented by Computing At School (CAS) and accredited by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, the certificate was launched last autumn.
Teaching computing requires a good understanding of computer science as it is taught in school as well as the development of appropriate skills. The certificate provides professional recognition for this. Working towards the certificate helps teachers who do not have formal teaching qualifications in computing but need to demonstrate competence in order to progress and gain recognition. It also helps to consolidate and extend existing skills and support work in the classroom.
Simon Humphreys, National Coordinator, Computing At School (CAS) part of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said:
“Computing affects almost everything we do and it is vital that we support teachers delivering the new computing curriculum by helping them gain the skills and knowledge they need to inspire future generations - and ensure they have an excellent computing education.”
Tim Dolan, from The De Montfort School, Evesham who will be formally awarded his certificate at the 2015 Computing At School (CAS) Annual Conference in Birmingham in June said:
“I now feel more confident to deliver the new computing curriculum. It was hard work, but has been a very rewarding experience and I am confident that it will have a positive impact on my teaching and benefit my students.”
“The course was excellent and I would recommend any ICT or computing teacher to apply. It encouraged me to find new ways to engage my students - for example - using Twitter to set homework, answer questions and give feedback. This approach has improved engagement, and hence attainment in the theory part of the AS Computing course where students have traditionally underperformed.”
There are two versions of the certificate, one specifically for primary teachers and one for secondary teachers.
Further information about how to enrol can be found at: www.computingatschool.org.uk/certificate
Switched ON, Issue 17
28 Apr 2015
The latest issue of Switched ON, the CAS newsletter, is now available. The new issue 17 is focused on physical computing and is well worth a read.
Thanks, as always, to our editor Roger Davies, and all the many contributors to the newsletter.
CAS Conference 2015
13 Apr 2015
With its usual mix of plenary talks and over 40 workshops for all phases this year’s annual CAS Conference on June 20th in Birmingham promises to be better than ever! Tickets are only £36 for the Saturday and if you’re coming down on Friday night there’ll be a reception and other activity!
Nearly half the conference capacity is sold out already! Tickets go fast so don’t delay, book your place now.
View draft programme.
CAS Conference (Bham) June 20th 2015
19 Mar 2015
How’s it going? The new Programme of Study came into operation at the start of this year. How has it been? Exciting? Frustrating? This year at the annual CAS Conference we’ll take the time to review what has worked well for both primary and secondary teachers, learn from the mistakes, hear from lots of teachers who have developed some wonderful resources which are working and being well received by their classes.
2014 Teacher Conference June 20
"The conferences in Birmingham are inspirational and have helped me improve my teaching. I have been to three and each time have learnt new things which I have been able to use in the classroom." (JW, 2014)
University of Birmingham, Computer Science Building
Friday 19th June 6pm - 10pm Reception and hackathon
Saturday 20th June 9am-5pm Conference Day
What to EXPECT
- Looking for inspiration to breathe more life into your lessons?
- Do you struggle to find dynamic resources to engage your pupils?
- Do you wish to enhance your own skills?
How's it going? The new Programme of Study cames into operation at the start of this year. How has it been? Exciting? Frustrating? This year at the annual CAS Conferecne we'll take the time to review what has worked well for both primary and secodnary teachers, learn from the mistakes, hear from lots of teachers who have developed some wonderful resources which are working and being well received by their classes
The new A Level specifications are also imminent, there will be several special sessions from the leading exam board s and others on how best to approach these new specifications.
There will be workshops and presentations suitable for all key stages and levels of experience including contributions from those involved in the Primary Barefoot project, Quickstart Computing, Digital Schoolhouse and so much more! The CAS Conference provides an ideal opportunity to find out about Computing including the subject, the pedagogy, find new resources, discuss with others in the same poition as you and meet and learn from other experienced teachers and lecturers about how to introduce computer science in to your classroom.
Join us, for a unique opportunity to hear from practising teachers and educators about developing computing in our schools.
Friday June 20th
Saturday June 20th
The conference will have its usual mix of plenary sessions, over 35 different workshops, the opportunity to network and take home practical examples of lessons and other resources that you can use in your classroom. For example:
- Building on the first year of the new curriculum
- Physical Computing for the classroom
- Where are the girls and promoting careers in computing
- CSUnplugged activities
- Managing the transition KS2 to KS3 with Digital Schoolhouse resources
- Integrating digital literacy, information technology and computer science
- Special themes for A Level teachers
- Debate how to teach programming
- What is a progamming paradigm anyway?
- Minecraft for the Raspeberry Pi
- Assessing Computing
- ... and a whole lot more!
Full programme to be published soon
Paul is an old friend of CAS and the CAS Conference where his workshops have always attracted a full house! This year, on the "main stage" Paul will shre his unique insight into computational thnking for our classrooms and using ideas and resource for encouraging an unoplugged approach to tecahing computer science. This will be a talk not to be missed!
Paul Curzon is a Professor of Computer Science at Queen Mary, University of London. He runs the cs4fn ‘Computer Science for Fun’ (cs4fn) project, www.cs4fn.org. It aims to inspire school students about computer science through a series of free magazines, website and school shows. He regularly gives such shows around the UK as well as continuous professional development talks to teachers about the cs4fn approach to teaching. He is Director of the Teaching London Computing Project. He was made a UK National Teaching Fellow in 2010 in recognition of his excellence in teaching and outreach, was a finalist in the 2009 Times Higher Education Innovative Teacher of the year award and has twice won the student nominated Queen Mary award for excellence in teaching.
The Workshop Speakers
In addition, there will be presentations and workshops from some of our many CAS Master Teachers and other experienced practitioners keen to share their knowledge and understanding, including:
Peter Millican, Peter Dickman, Chris Coetzee, Pete Dring, Oli Howson, Manique Wilson, Michael Spivey, Dave White, Trevor Bragg, Christine Swan, Ben Stradling ...
For all travel and accommodation details please follow this link: Local information, i.e. hotels, travel etc.
What DOES IT COST?
NB. Only payment by credit card can be accepted.
For further information either email: Conference administrator or telephone 0121 414 4777
National CAS Survey 2015
01 Feb 2015
Computing At School and the Network of Excellence team are conducting a short survey about the Computing At School community and Computing in schools.
National CAS Survey 2015
The survey will remain open for the whole of February 2014. To get an accurate picture of how CAS is used and how Computing in schools is developing, we would like as many CAS members as possible to complete this. The survey is open to all (including non-CAS members), although there are some questions that are specific to members of CAS and some that are specific to teachers. It should not take long to complete.
For one lucky person each week, there will be a prize of a £25 Amazon voucher!
The summary data will be published by CAS in the spring.
BT Funding extends Barefoot Project in partnership with BCS
19 Jan 2015
With almost 3000 teachers from over 800 different schools in England having received training via the Barefoot Computing Project since its launch last summer, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT is pleased to announce that the scheme is to be extended. BT has agreed to support the project from March until the end of this school year. The project was originally funded by the Department for Education to from Sept 2014 to March 2015.
Led by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT in partnership with BT, and initially funded by the Department for Education - the Barefoot project supports primary school teachers to teach the new computing curriculum which became compulsory in schools throughout England last September. The scheme provides cross-curricular computer science resources and training for primary school teachers with no previous computer science knowledge. The initiative is being supported through a programme of free in-school computing workshops for primary school teachers across England.
Pat Hughes, Project Leader for Barefoot Computing said:
“The announcement that BT is providing funding to extend the Barefoot project is great news. The scheme has proved to be popular so far. As well as training thousands of teachers there have been 6000 registrations to the Barefoot website with 2500 new teacher registrations in the last two months. Barefoot helps teachers understand ideas and concepts such as algorithms, abstraction and data structures, how they occur naturally in many other disciplines that they also teach, and how they can teach them to children starting from age 5.”
School Reform Minister, Nick Gibb said:
“I am delighted that BT is extending the successful Barefoot project, providing innovative support for primary teachers on the new computing curriculum. This is an excellent example of industry working together with schools to support teachers - ensuring pupils leave school prepared for life in modern Britain.”
Clive Selley, CEO of BT Technology, Services and Operations said:
“Computing is a very important skill for BT and through our engagement with schools we’ve seen that children really enjoy it and that it can have a profound impact on other STEM subjects. We’re proud to be partnering with Barefoot Computing and that the workshops BT and other volunteers across England have been involved have been such a success; it’s great to hear from teachers that the programme has boosted their confidence. The programme is due to end in March, but given its popularity to date, BT is pleased to announce it will be working with BCS and Computing At School (CAS) to ensure that it continues to run through the summer term.”
The Barefoot training workshops are run by volunteer professionals from the IT/computing and education sectors, these events introduce the new computing curriculum to teachers and explain the support available to them through Barefoot and other related projects.
Pat Hughes continued:
“This programme of events will help equip teachers with the skills and knowledge needed to incorporate the computer science elements of the new computing curriculum into their lessons. By providing high quality cross-curricular computer science resources for primary school teachers, supported by explanations of the key computing concepts, we are providing support for teachers who may have little previous knowledge of computer science. A lot of teachers are already introducing many of these concepts in to their classrooms without realising it and we want them to see that it’s not as complicated as they may think.”
For more information about Barefoot Computing visit: barefootcas.org.uk
New computing support for teachers
15 Jan 2015
If you’re still getting to grips with the new computing curriculum that started in September QuickStart Computing may well provide essential support and help.
Quickstart Computing is a free CPD toolkit that can help you to plan, teach and assess the new curriculum.
QuickStart Computing is produced by Computing At School and funded by the Department for Education and Microsoft.
QuickStart Computing lets you develop and run CPD and training sessions in your school and cluster to help all teachers with this brand new subject. It includes a downloadable teachers’ handbook, links to resources, online videos and interactive tools.
So, whether you need to understand the basics, assess your knowledge or get inspiring ideas for the classroom, QuickStart Computing is a valuable free resource.
For more information and to access QuickStart Computing visit: www.quickstartcomputing.org
Switched ON! Winter/Spring 2015 published
09 Jan 2015
The latest issue of Switched ON is now available, bursting with 28 pages of content. This issue has a special focus on the ideas of Seymour Papert, father of Logo.
More details are available here.
CAS Scoops Education Award
04 Dec 2014
In recognition of its initiatives promoting computing in primary and secondary schools, Computing At School (CAS) has won the 2014 Informatics Europe Best Practices in Education Award.
The award is a prestigious recognition of a world-class initiative in computing education and is presented by Informatics Europe, the association of computer science departments and research laboratories in Europe.
Simon Humphreys, National Coordinator, CAS, who was presented with the award at the 10th European Computer Science Summit, in Wroclaw, Poland said:
We are delighted to receive this prestigious award from Infomatics Europe. It is fantastic to have our work as a community of teachers and professionals recognised in this way. Computing affects almost everything we do and it is important that children learn about the fundamentals of computer science from an early age. It is therefore vital that we support teachers delivering the new computing curriculum by helping them gain the skills and knowledge they need to inspire future generations - and ensure they have an excellent computing education.
The 2014 Award, sponsored by Microsoft, is devoted to curriculum initiatives promoting informatics education in primary and secondary schools. It recognises a successful teaching effort in Europe that:
- has made a measurable difference in informatics education in schools
- is widely applicable and useful for the teaching community
- has made a measurable impact in its original institution and beyond it
Carlo Ghezzi, President of Informatics Europe added:
The emphasis that the new English National Curriculum places on teaching computer science as a foundational discipline (like maths or science) rather than a vocationally-oriented technology subject is in full agreement with Informatics Europe’s mission, and in particular with our report “Informatics Education: Europe cannot afford to miss the boat” and our Committee on European Computing Education. We know that CAS’s achievements have only been possible through its partnership with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, together with support from the Department for Education, and we praise the contribution that the organisation has made to the reform of the computing curriculum.
The UK is now, in effect, establishing computing as a brand-new school subject, from primary school onwards. Doing so requires a major, sustained programme of teacher training, and our award is partly based on CAS’s leadership in doing so. The rest of Europe is watching with great interest what the UK has done, and looks forward to observing further progress.
Computing At School provides leadership and strategic guidance to all those involved in Computing education in schools, with a significant, but not exclusive focus on the Computer Science theme within the wider Computing curriculum. Through its network of teachers, local hubs, Master Teachers and University Partners it is providing workshops and resources to support local teachers, and build their confidence and skills for the new Computing curriculum.
For more information about CAS visit: www.computingatschool.org.uk
For more information about Informatics Europe visit: www.informatics-europe.org
For more information about the Best Practices in Education Award visit:
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