All posts by Brian Sharland

Using Github in class

I’ll come back to this topic at another time but I just wanted to kick off a blog or two on using Github education in class.  I’ve been using it now for a month or two with my GCSE year 10 CS group.  So far I have posted a simple assignment up for them to complete.  Many of them are still struggling to get to grips with how to actually use github as a service especially considering the steep learning curve.

My first thought is that perhaps the introduction to github could include something like a game where they are person on a project team needing to get a piece of software shipped.  They would be interacting over chat with an AI team lead who gives them challenges to finish off as they work through the bugs.  This may help pupils start to see a lot quicker how github is meant to benefit them rather than the dry tutorials on commits, repos etc.

I know the common answer I might if anyone reads this blog is “go ahead and build it” which is certainly true.  I will add it to my long list of projects I would like to work on but if anyone spots this and would like to use it as an idea go for it.

Personalised Learning in GCSE CS #compeduk

Kicking off a new blog with this post.  I was reading an interesting article in the January edition of Tech and Learning on personalised learning by Robert Dragan.  I won’t recap the article as it’s quite good (although I couldn’t unfortunately find an online copy).  Instead I just want to reflect on how I’m trying to personalise learning for a computer science group who are coming close to the end of their GCSE.

In previous years I’ve tried to beast my GCSE group through all the content of a CS group together.  This approach has achieved reasonable grades but led to some dissatisfaction from pupils. I suppose I’ve used this approach as it is a standard and relatively ‘easy’ approach for a teacher.  However it is by no means the best for pupils.

The school I’ve been working at for the last few years is big on personalised learning checklists.  I’ve been using them from day one since I’ve been at the school but more for coursework or just ticking off what pupils have learnt in class.

In the last year I’ve shifted my thinking on PLCs to be that instead of being used summatively they can be used formatively.  For my CS group I begun their recent theory preparation for their examinations by getting them to work through a website provided by the exam board on their theory modules.  Each learning outcome contains a basic test at the end as well as a RAG rating.  I started gathering the RAG ratings from the pupils in a spreadsheet and very quickly through the use of pupil and LO averages I was able to see which topics needed more attention.  As soon as I delivered one of these topics I then asked them to rate again and I’ve been pleased to see how the score for these pupils has come down.  Including some test results as well as helped me develop a reasonable way to track pupils and also indicate a direction of travel for them going into the exam.

By allowing pupils to RAG different aspects of their understanding this allows me to target resources and support on a personal level.  They still work with the same content but at different stages.  This I feel is the true benefit of personalised learning.