It’s that time of year again, when NCSC set Year 8 their greatest challenge. I was determined to increase engagement in the competition yet again and throw open the doors to the Computer Science department all week for as much sleuthing and code breaking as we could fit in between lessons.
An intermediate success! 14 teams signed up – way more than last year (23 girls in 6 teams.) I am excited to see what happens this year. I’ve taken over the huge screen in the new iCreate space with help from IT support, so my animated hacking screens (just Google Slides in disguise) will keep the scores updated as soon as I can update them.
I like a good puzzle and to stretch the lateral thinking of my students a little (not a lot, it is almost Christmas…) They’re itching to fidget and love something a bit different, so December brought the first BGS Christmas Hunt. Around the school I dotted QR codes with clues as to where the next code was, and also some challenges to complete along the way.
Organised into teams with punny Christmas names, they shot off to try and be first to complete all the challenges, hunting in all unusual parts of school.
Thoughts for next time, don’t start all the groups in the same place as they follow or stalk each other.
Back again for another year at the Apple Distinguished Schools Summit. This time down south and not on my own. Behind the scenes I have been very busy completing and tweaking the latest edition of the Bedford Girls’ School Apple Distinguished School story in Apple Book format. We were very pleased to be confirmed as an Apple Distinguished School for 2018-2021 (three years this time!) and came away with a shiny framed certificate and new banner.
It was great to catch up with friends new and old from other Apple Distinguished Schools, particularly our friends from Alderley Edge School for Girls who had visited us not so long ago to inform their own application to become an Apple Distinguished School.
Claire Barrett of the Bedford Girls’ School English Department is a busy, innovative teacher who likes to keep me equally occupied! Over half term I created an eBook to support the students studying 1984. It is a book I admit I’d only heard an abridged radio play of, so this gave me the opportunity to read it properly while I was completing the work. Timely reading …!
It’s back to school! This year I am teaching Computer Science to all of Year 7 in their form groups at Bedford Girls’ School. Year 7 is the first year of our senior school, so the girls are a mix of students who have moved up from the Junior School and some new faces from other schools. The first week (or part week) ends with Year 7 receiving their iPad, with a special morning off timetable to update their e-safety knowledge and how to care for the iPad. Up until Year 7 the students are not permitted to take the device home, and this can take a little bit of getting used to – namely remembering to charge it up!
This provided me with a couple of lessons with some unplugged computing to introduce the girls to Computer Science. Our first topic What’s Inside a Computer requires the iPad to access the course and resources, and the following week the girls sit an online test during my lesson instead.
To help everyone get to know some names on the first day, we puzzled out a game of ‘picnic’ as a group, figuring out why Anna could bring an apple to the picnic but Tessa couldn’t. The hint dropping became more and more hilarious as the game went on. Great for pattern recognition!
We sat back to back and described aliens to each other to decide on the importance and sequence of how to break down a trickier problem. Some good strategies!
We tried out transmitting a picture using binary across the room without speaking… proved very tricky for some!
There was a favourite game of selective seats (which is in the plan for the conditionals lesson in the summer) and pictionary (which is used to introduce abstraction), to fill the rest of the hour. I’d certainly learned more names than the average lesson and they left the lesson buzzing. Great start to the year!
Paula Harrold’s A-Level Psychology Research Methods guide is one of the longest books published at Bedford Girls’ School. It’s been downloaded by several schools and teachers around the UK. In response to student feedback regarding the BookWidgets widgets, I created an iTunes U course to accompany the course with Google Docs templates to assist the students to take notes. The course and the iTunes U edit of the book are currently only internally available, but by request can be extended to other schools.
Not all the Bedford Girls’ School books we create are suitable for external publication. This is mostly due to referencing internal docs, the fact they support iTunes U courses and because they are designed specifically for a need within school. We are trying to publish more for external use, but it often requires a lot more planning and consideration to write for a broader audience. Here are a selection of insights into some of the non-public books at BGS. If you are intrigued by one, do get in touch.
In Year 9 at Bedford Girls’ School, the girls all undertake a personal project for exhibition in the summer term. There is a day set aside to kick start things and then they work hard to put everything together. I set aside hours in my calendar to turn around a quick project book in time for the exhibition – laying out their written projects and other digital medium in a book which is published internally. A slightly slimmer version is then published to the iTunes Bookstore.
I visited Year 8 Spanish at Bedford Girls’ School. The girls practised food-related roleplays and used Apple Clips to record their speaking for assessment.
Visit Year 8 Spanish with me on the BGS Blog
Charlotte Martin is a KS2 teacher at Bedford Girls School. As part of a masters, she conducted research into the use of 1:1 iPad at BGS with Science in Key Stage 2. Read the abstract below, and read the research as an Apple Book, which I laid out and published on behalf of Charlotte and BGS. Download the research here.
After more than half a century of research into the use of technology and its benefit to education, the argument for how it should be used, within the classroom, continues. As this research will go on to discuss, educators need to be aware that children entering school, at any age, will arrive with a varying degree of skills. In a digital age, most children will have had access to technology and as educationalists we therefore need to embrace the opportunities that technology presents, to ensure pupils are prepared for a universally-connected world.
Sangster, M (2015) suggests that tablets enable children to respond immediately and take greater risk in their learning. The ability to undo work empowers pupils to make mistakes and take risks. She confirms that: “It becomes possible to begin exploring and experimenting with little provisional planning, allowing ideas to be tested and develop more organically.” Sangster, M, (2015, p. 84)
This research was completed in the Junior School of an independent day school and set out to examine how the use of tablets in Year 4 Science impacted the teaching and learning. It was driven by the lack of research undertaken in primary schools in the UK, into the use of tablets in teaching and learning, and their beneficial effect on education.
Questionnaires were delivered to all Year Four pupils during their final lesson of the Spring Term (March 2016), in anticipation of the pilot that would be carried out during the first half of Summer Term. The aim of the questionnaire was to investigate their perceptions of Science and how it was taught before seeing whether they would anticipate benefitting from tablet use.
Once the pilot had been executed, a second round of questionnaires was delivered with the aim of examining whether the pupils’ perception of how Science was taught had altered, and whether they felt they had benefitted from tablet use.
From the outcome and analysis of the questionnaires, a focus group interview was conducted with a sample of 5 children (numbers 3, 5, 8, 13 and 16 in the class register) from Class 2.
Finally, semi-structured interviews were performed with the two Year 4 Science teachers, to ascertain their planning techniques for the use of tablets, how they felt Science is taught and whether they felt the children benefited from tablet use in Science.
It’s always good to extend your STEM wings with other departments. I was invited along to join Year 8 at London’s Science Museum by the Bedford Girls’ School Maths Department. Apple’s Clips app was the perfect tool to create a summary video for our school’s marketing department to tweet.
It seems like a long time ago that James and I decided we were up for hosting a Twitter chat. One of the big persuasion points with colleagues had been to show how iPad would not only benefit students but benefit teachers by saving time and simplifying processes. We proposed this as a topic when there was a call for new hosts.
In those hazy days, Tuesday nights at 8pm were #ADEchat and had formed the start of my Apple Distinguished Educator journey. It was the crux of those ‘have we met, or do I know you from Twitter’ moments at Academy.
By the time our slot rolled round, on 6th March 2018, #ADEchat had become #AppleEDUchat – but our purpose was still the same. We brainstormed six questions on the topic of Teacher Workflow with iPad, edited them with Miriam and Martin (fellow ADEs who oversee it all). Artwork arrived for each of the questions, and shiny new avatar frames. We had just enough time to figure out scheduled tweets before the big day.
Our questions were:
Which apps help you to be an efficient teacher in your classroom?
Do you have a different workflow process for when you work with students?
How does iPad support efficient learner assessment?
Share your favourite iPad based workflow.
How do you encourage colleagues to embrace productive teacher workflow with iPad?
We’ve seen a lot of good ideas shared. What are you going to try after tonight? Do you have One More Thing… you’d like to share?
It was a fantastic moment to enable discussion about this on Twitter, and to reach far and wide in the region. As a participant it’s a much more relaxed affair, considering questions, writing an answer, reading others, liking and replying. An hour will fly by. As a host, I was so glad to not only have James and also the scheduled tweets. In trying to reach, like, reply, prompt for more information from as many people as possible, the hour blinked by and I emerged from the tunnel vision to find a cold cup of tea beside the keyboard, which my fiancé had made for me at some point during it!
After last year’s small-scale fun of managing to find 6 students to take part in the inaugural CyberFirst Girls competition run by the NCSC (part of GCHQ), I proposed to take part again, as the rules had changed to pitch it at girls in Year 8. I happen to now teach 3 out of the 5 Year 8 classes at school, so it was much easier to convince a few more girls to give it a go.
This year 23 girls took part to form 6 teams. Every participant contributed in some small way, working together, trawling for answers to all manner of cyber security, cryptography, networking, logic and coding challenges. Only one team could be put forward to the grand final, and although Team Error put in great effort, they were not selected to be in the final 10 nationally.
I hope, however, their experience has further convinced them to continue with Computer Science in year 9, with a view to taking their GCSE.
This is our second year of being an Apple Distinguished School and our second week of hosting international visitors over here to visit the BETT show and visit other schools like us.
This year we hosted visitors from France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Hong Kong. We were delighted to share our 1:1 journey, including how we use iTunes U and multi-touch books. The girls enjoyed having visitors in their lessons and were excellent at holding conversation and sharing what they got up to. They are great ambassadors and it was lovely to hear what they thought (they were allowed to tell the truth, warts and all!)
Read more from school here.
See photo gallery here.
Our school is part of the Harpur Trust, and at the start of January we collaborated for one Trust-wide INSET day at Bedford School. James and I were asked to present a session about the 1:1 approach at BGS. We chose to present about iTunes U and multi-touch books as our specialisms, but we needed to pitch it to teachers who were not in 1:1 environments (yet, maybe!) so looked wider to how the approaches could be used towards VLE, ePub, Chrome Books etc. to help our audience.
We had a packed room on the day, and I hope that what we shared helped our colleagues in the Trust consider how technology can improve teaching and learning for them and their students.