Saturday, 22 July 2017

CS4PD - Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko

In the term break I went to the University of Canterbury to do some learning about the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum.

This was an intense five days of learning starting first with Primary School context. By Wednesday we were joined by our secondary colleagues.

There has been some angst in the media about the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum.
Why is it a stand alone curriculum?
What is the purpose?
It's missing the point! (She said missing the point)
It's just big business taking over the world. Did you know that Bill Gates (and everyone in silicon valley) does not let their kids go on computers! [cue Edna Krabappel] "Will somebody please think of the children?!"

And while I am always are keen starter to jump onto the Big Business Conspiracies Bandwagon, I need to also work in the best interests of my students. And no, I haven't sold out. I still want them to be able think critically, be grounded in their culture, be compassionate and resilient human beings, avoid unnecessary student debt, and live a happy life with their future families. But robbing them of the opportunity to access the largest growing (and hardest-to-find-workers-with-the-skills) industry in our country is not okay - especially when this is based on the "common" sense.

I do understand that there are some concerns about the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum. Some that came out for me:
  1. Five and Six year olds should be playing and developing the key competencies (as opposed to formal instruction that requires complex cognition - reading, writing, maths) - let alone be doing computer science
  2. we can't afford to resource a digital curriculum out of our operations grants
  3. our teachers have not had the PLD to implement the curriculum
  4. increase workload for time-poor teachers in an already crowded curriculum
So we need to turn these threats into opportunities:

Opportunity number 1. Use the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum as an opportunity to implement a Learning through play environment in year 0-2 classrooms and demand that because of this National Standards have no place in our primary schools for our under 7s

Opportunity number 2. Use the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum as an opportunity to lobby and demand for an increase in our operations grants. 

Opportunity number 3. Use the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum as an opportunity to demand and lobby for increased PLD funds and increased staffing during the implementation phase.

Opportunity number 4. Use the Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko curriculum as an opportunity to integrate the Arts, Languages, and PE/Health back into primary schools. 
One of many examples that you can find on CS Unplugged 2 (see below)

How can we demand and lobby for such things? 
Go to the roadshows, be active in the consultation and shaping of this curriculum. 
Be active also in the Interpretation of this curriculum - it could go both ways - let's make it the right way...

Lesson activities

  1. Brainstorm as a class all the different fitness exercises you could have in your programming language.
    Cartoon kids exercising
    Ideas to get you started include:
    • Running on the spot
    • Star jumps
    • Ski jumps
    • Balancing bean bags on your head
  2. Work in your groups draw on each of the cards. You should design:
    • A "GO" card to show the start of the program
    • 4 cards, each with a different exercise depicted on it
    • A card with that depicts how you should finish. Ideas could be:
      • Strike a pose
      • Sit with your arms crossed
      • Stand as straight as you can
  3. Now place your cards in a row with the GO card first, then with each picture and how you should finish last. (There should be no numbers to indicate how many times you should do the exercise - that will come later.)
  4. Each group goes around and tries to work out what each of the cards mean from the other groups.
  5. Come together and discuss what was the same and for which cards you had to “learn” because you weren’t sure what it was?
  6. This is the same with computer programming languages. You can learn to program with different languages, and some things seem similar in a new language, while other things you have to learn as it isn’t clear how to use a particular command.
  7. Now put out 6 whiteboards and the hula hoop like this:
    6 whiteboards arranged around and in hula hoop
  8. Have one group put their Go card on the first whiteboard
    6 whiteboards arranged around and in hula hoop
  9. Now have them put their exercises cards out on the whiteboards shown. Explain that whatever is in the hula hoop will be repeated (it's a loop!)
    6 whiteboards arranged around and in hula hoop
  10. We need to set the parameters. A parameter tells us how long to do something or how many times to do something. Here we know to Go, To do star jumps (but not how many), to do ski jumps (but not how many), to catch a bean bag (but not how many) and that we should repeat the ski jumps and catch a bean bag, (but not how many times)!
    6 whiteboards arranged around and in hula hoop
  11. With your whiteboard pens, write in the number of times each exercise should be done. (Encourage the students to choose realistic numbers; the number on the hula hoop multiplies the ones inside.) For the exercises in the hula hoop, you need to repeat both of them how many times? (In the example, the sequence of 10 ski jumps and 5 catches is repeated 3 times, so it would be 10 ski, 5 catch, 10 ski, 5 catch, 10 ski, 5 catch).
  12. The last piece of programming is to show how we will end when we have finished our fitness app workout.
    6 whiteboards arranged around and in hula hoop
  13. Now we have built up our fitness app, it’s time to test it. The Programmer watches to see if everyone is doing it correctly. The Tester is looking for if there are any numbers to change or if the activities need further instructions. When the Tester says “Go” start following your fitness app.
  14. The Programmer asks the Tester if they saw anything they thought could be changed or improved?

Applying what we have just learnt

Getting the sequence right for programming is very important. If any detail is missing then your program won’t run how you expected it. A loop in programming is when you repeat the instructions inside of it, until a certain condition is met (in this case each exercise is completed a certain number of times). A loop can get a lot of instructions to happen with a relatively short program.

Lesson reflection

  • Discuss all the areas where you needed to collaborate together. What skills did you need to apply when discussing what should be programmed.
  • Do you think this is a way you could set up fitness for your class?
  • Do you have ideas for writing different fitness programs this way?
Throughout the lessons there are links to computational thinking. Below we've noted some general links that apply to this content.
Teaching computational thinking through CSUnplugged activities supports students to learn how to describe a problem, identify what are the important details they need to solve this problem, and break it down into small, logical steps so that they can then create a process which solves the problem, and then evaluate this process. These skills are transferable to any other curriculum area, but are particularly relevant to developing digital systems and solving problems using the capabilities of computers.
These Computational Thinking concepts are all connected to each other and support each other, but it’s important to note that not all aspects of Computational Thinking happen in every unit or lesson. We’ve highlighted the important connections for you to observe your students in action. For more background information on what our definition of Computational Thinking see our notes about computational thinking.

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