10 good resources and 2 competitions for ICT and Computing teachers

 In the Digital Education ezine, we dig deep into issues. None of your superficial flannel in  these  pages!

In the Digital Education ezine, we dig deep into issues. None of your superficial flannel in these pages!

The following article is an amended (cut down) version of one I sent to Digital Education subscribers recently.

10 good resources

Discussion groups

As I’ve mentioned before, a useful discussion forum is the ICT and Computing Teachers Group in Facebook. Membership has to be approved by founder Darren Smith. The group has over 1,600 members, so there is always some lively discussion and useful exchanges.

Another one is the Mirandanet discussion list. Like the Facebook group, membership is free.

Along with the ICTRN discussion list featured in 3 ICT and Computing communities you should join, I consider these discussion groups among the best available for teachers. However, although they each no doubt have overseas members, the issues mostly discussed are UK-specific. However, as with many discussion lists, the underlying principles of the discussions are pretty much applicable anywhere.

Whiteboards

If interactive whiteboards could speak, they may well be heard to say, echoing James Cagney in on of his gangster films,

“I ain’t dead yet!”

That’s right: they are still used, and used well, in many schools, and trainee teachers are expected to know how to use them. Although they are often criticised for encouraging what some people regard as an old-fashioned teaching style (teaching from the font), used well they can be fantastic assets. It all depends on how you use them (assuming they have been well-maintained, of course).  As Mick Jagger once sang,

“It’s the singer, not the song”.

If you use interactive whiteboards and tablets, check out Danny Nicholson’s Whiteboard Blog. I quite like this recent post on the site: The Edtech Toolkit: 5 Essential Tools for Teachers. Incidentally, my booklet called “Making the most of your interactive whiteboard”, which is available in the free resources area for Digital Education subscribers , is a quick guide to what I consider to be the most essential features of whiteboards, but Danny’s site is much more comprehensive of course.

Scratch

A useful resource if you’re teaching Scratch is the Scratch Booklet by Neil Rickus. It covers Scratch at Key Stages 2 and 3, and comprises step-by-step projects. It’s a bit like painting by numbers, but if you want to get started quickly, and see results fast, then that’s not a bad thing. Here’s the link: Scratch Guide.

Guides for secondary school teachers

I like the downloadable resources I’ve seen from PG Online. They seem to me to be quite comprehensive, and I’ve looked at a few to which I’ve been given free access. As it happens, the daughter of a friend of ours asked me to help her with her Computing homework, and it turned out to be a knowledge test from PG Online. I have to say, I thought it was challenging, although to some extent that was because we weren’t always sure what the questioner had in mind. On the whole though I thought it was good. Check out the sample units and see what you think.

The Suffolk Computing Curriculum

Here’s a quick heads-up. The Suffolk Computing Curriculum for Key Stages 1 to 3 is ready and openly available. In the next “proper” issue of Digital Education Kathryn Day, the advisor for Suffolk, talks about the approach and resources. (At this point, the newsletter featured a link to the new resources. See what you’re missing out on by not being a subscriber? Subscribe now – you know it makes sense! It’s free by the way, in case you were wondering.)

Kathryn’s article will be an update to the one she wrote in July 2014. In case you missed that, it appeared in the July 2014 issue of Digital Education, and then on this website in September 2014. Check it out here: The Computing Curriculum: Suffolk's Interpretation.

Dealing with bullies

Here’s a good article by Lisa Nielsen: “Bullies: Let’s Do More Than Ignorehttp://www.techlearning.com/blogentry/9929. Disclosure: I write for Technology and Learning, though I am not obliged to promote their stuff.

My courses

As I have mentioned before, the ICT & Education website has now been made mobile-friendly – I’m pleased to say that it passes Google’s mobile-friendly test with flying colours! I’ve tested it in various browsers, two laptops, and two phones, and it looks OK on all of them. However, it’s taking me time to get to know the new interface, but I’ve got to grips with the basics!  

I’m taking the opportunity to rewrite some of the pages and reorganise the site. I’m also experimenting with the different features available on the new platform, so the revamped site is very much a work in progress.

One of these new features is an event module, and so I’ve just created a page featuring upcoming courses that I’m the trainer on, along with testimonials from teachers on past courses. This page is now generally available (it wasn’t when the newsletter went out). Here it is: Courses.

Features of excellent ICT and Computing lessons

The subscribers’ resources area of the ICT & Computing in Education website is now up and running. I’ve just added “45 features of excellent ICT and Computing lessons”. It’s based on “37 features of outstanding ICT and Computing lessons”, but it’s been changed in the following ways. It’s been:

  • Expanded.
  • Improved.
  • Made to be less inspection-related.
  • Divided into sub-sections for ease of use.

Competitions

Grammarly

First, there will be a prize draw for a one year subscription to Grammarly. This is an online grammar, spelling, plagiarism checker. Grammarly Premium checks for 250 critical grammar and spelling checks, offers writing genre settings, vocabulary improvement, and plagiarism detection. It is available on MS Office as an Add-on. The cost of an annual subscription is $139.95, and the prize will be a one year subscription. All you will have to do is send me an email with a particular subject line by a particular date – which will be around a week after the newsletter is sent out. The competition is open to anyone in the world who is 18 and above with an email address.

Lovelace and Babbage

Second, there will be a prize draw to win one of three copies of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. (Clicking on that link will take you to my review of it.) Unfortunately, because of copyright reasons, subscribers in the USA won’t be eligible to enter. Apart from that, the same applies as to the Grammarly competition.

So do keep an eye out for the next issue of Digital Education .

About Digital Education

The Digital Education ezine is free. It’s aimed at people with a professional interest in educational ICT and Computing, and has several thousand subscribers. It contains articles and other items (like competitions and reviews) that are related to teaching ICT and Computing.

I use a double opt-in system, which means that if you decide to sign up you will receive an email asking you to confirm, just in case one of your friends decided to sign you up without your knowing about it.

Once you’ve done that you will receive an email telling you how to access the free resources area. Then you’ll receive another email 10 days later reminding you of the details.

You can unsubscribe any time you like.

If you’d like to subscribe, then here’s where to begin the process: Yes! Pease sign me up to the newsletter right now! OMG I can’t wait to receive my first newsletter!