2015 – the year of new stuff

I’ve not posted for a while – things have been busy – my father passed away in October and so I have been dealing with that, but as time has moved on and a new term has started I feel ready to dive back in head first.

Anyway, that’s no excuse – my goal for this year was to write up a guide to the new curriculum and I have so far failed miserably.

So, the last few weeks have been interesting – before Christmas I visited my first CAS Hub event in Hammersmith – it was mostly independent schools like my own and included a chat about how people are getting on as well as a demo of a java script game based Code Kingdoms (more on that later). It was good to see what people were doing, but I ended up arriving late (only by 15 minutes) and felt like I missed out on a lot of the early chat.

I had also attended a Code Club meet up in central London right at the beginning of the academic year and between the two events I decided it was time I started organising my own meet up. My plan was simple, I wanted to keep things informal, I wanted to get lots of teachers there and I wanted to make sure there were things to try out. I’m not a great fan of sticking to timetables so I decided not to plan anything formal for my event and so next Thursday (22nd Jan 2015) I will be hosting a coding meet up in the Stokes and Moncreiff pub in Twickenham – I’m hoping to get lots of teachers to come along (although I’m only up to about 16 so far) as well as trying to encourage some Code Club volunteers to head over. If you’re interested in coming along please sign up here.

At the end of last year, I also volunteered to talk about Raspberry Pi in the primary school at BETT 2015 on the Raspberry Pi stand along with a fellow Picademy alumni, Tom Sale, who is a leading practictioner when it comes to the new curriculum and is well known for helping to organise a big primary school coding event in Blackpool, Hackpool.  We will be talking on the Pi stand at 12.30pm on Friday 23rd and then we have also been invited to sit on a panel at 2.15pm with Clive Beale in the BETT Futures arena to talk about coding in the primary school; next week is looking set to be an exciting week.

While surfing Twitter this week, two very exciting things have come up that I think are important to share: Firstly, CamJam and Raspberry Pi are hosting a third birthday event in Cambridge 28th Feb/1st March – this is looking like it will be a great event for anyone interested in using the Pi, whether it be teachers, parents, professionals or children and it’s less than £10 for a full weekend pass (the day activities are completely free for under 16s). I’m planning on heading along to the Saturday events because I think it will be another great networking opportunity and to get some ideas for how to use the Pi in school (trust me, the best way to be inspired about how to use the Raspberry Pi is to find out how other people are using it). Further details here.

The second thing I saw this morning was a lovely little kickstarter from the guys at Pimoroni called Flotilla. This looks like a perfect bit of kit for any primary school teacher as the cross curricular links are immense. The idea is simple – a USB plug and play hub with an awful lot of sensors that can be controlled with varying levels of coding difficulty starting off with simple recipe cards, to flowcharts, to Scratch, Python and beyond. It can be controlled from a computer or a tablet. My hand slipped when I was making a pledge and I’ve ended up putting down enough to be able to get a mega treasure chest so as soon as this is released I’ll be blogging about how it works. It’s nearly achieved half it’s funding in a few hours so there is no doubt it will be fully funded before too long! Looking at it, it should be great for linking coding to science and I have a feeling there will be ways to link it to other subjects too!

So, I’m declaring 2015 the year of new stuff as I continue to find new and exciting ways to encourage people to enjoy the new coding curriculum….

One final anecdote for you, however, a pair of excellent teachers came to me this week to ask why I was making them teach coding, they wanted to know if they could just go back to teaching ‘word and stuff’ *facepalm* luckily for me, they saw sense, but just goes to show how deeply the old microsoft curriculum has been ingrained into teaching!!

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