I went to Machynlleth this afternoon to visit Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, one of the schools I’m working with on the GOWS project. A group primary teachers from the feeder schools were there, and we were meeting up to talk about computing, computational thinking, and how the project is coming along. Jordi and Mariona, who are visiting researchers from Girona, came along too and talked about the work they’ve been doing with local primary schools back in Catalonia.
The way Tomi (Bro Ddyfi’s ICT teacher) and I have been thinking, Raspberry Pi computers and the scratch programming language are the key things for getting computing into primary, so that’s what we had been working on. We made some posters last week and I took along some A1 ones. You can download the posters here in both Welsh and English if you want to use them yourselves – they’re designed to print A1 for classroom use but they look OK A4 or A3, too. Here’s a little image version of the Raspberry Pi one:
We want to get the schoolkids using Scratch, but not just using it – we really want to try to bring creativity into it too. Jordi & Mariona have done some really great work here, combining scratch with art (like a workshop that getting kids to make scratch animations about themselves, but also drawing self portraits using paper, both with and without mirrors). The idea we had for a first scratch exercise is “scratch stories” where the kids make animations about their schools, which would also help with transition from primary to secondary if we get to share the animations from the secondary kids with the primary kids during transition week.
So we then did a bit of hands on scratch stuff where the teachers had a go at doing animations; we talked some about computational thinking and the kinds of skills you can get from scratch (iteration, loops, variables, control structures, data, input, output… all sorts of stuff).
Here’s Jordi with a couple of the teachers, working on their scratch activities. I think a lot of them had used it before, but there were a lot of questions as well so I am fairly sure the session was useful!
Computer-wise Tomi is very keen on Raspberry Pis (and so am I) so he has bought some for the project – 12 in total, I think; along with some refurbished monitors and keyboards and so on. It’s a great way to get cheap computers into schools, it gives experience of a different operating system too (linux) which is only a good thing in my opinion. We showed the teachers how to set them up and get started…
And then boxed up a bunch of them for the primary schools, so as well as having scratch on the laptops in the schools, there’s scratch on the pis.
So now the primary teachers go back out into their schools, and do a bit of scratch with the kids, programming stories which will hopefully get them all thinking a bit more creatively about computing. They can have a go on the raspberry pis, too. In about a month the primary kids come into the secondary for transition day (or is it transition week?) and we’ll go back and work directly with the kids, building on the stuff we did today.
BTW – GOWS stands for Get On With Science – you can see my earlier blog on it here: http://www.hannahdee.eu/blog/?p=1098