With 30 computers to install and re image it was great to see so many WEGC Computer Club involved in the hands on process. Apart from the physical work there was a bit of messing with the BIOS and some troubleshooting. All good experience.
Productivity in the classroom has increased significantly; students were losing 15 minutes at the start of most lessons due to the 7 year old machines having only 2GB of memory. Try running Semantic and Google chrome at the same time…. The new image (30GB) which includes three browsers and the latest MS Office and Adobe suites has also been loaded with Libre Office, GIMP and other open source applications.
Democracy is alive and well in the Year 9 classroom. We held a nomination process to select Captain and Deputy Captain. Following selection, a shortlist five candidates spoke to the class about why they should be elected into a leadership role. They all spoke clearly and confidently and I am sure any of them could do the job. While the front runner was evident we will need to have a sudden death vote on Monday – anonymous to students and via Google forms. These leadership roles are potentially more important than some students think – especially those with longer term goals of being prefects in the school at Year 13. Hence we teachers put the effort into making sure the process is fair and transparent.
Despite my initial reservations I am quite enjoying the role of Ako (Form) teacher to Year 9 students. They have so much energy and imagination (where does their imagination go?).
I was particularly impressed by various interpretations of the book “The Arrival”, essentially a graphic novel. A few students are grappling with Maths, I suggested YouTube resources can help improve understanding – and having an alternative explanation of concepts can be helpful.
Several students wish to improve on spelling, reading and comprehension. No short cuts really…. the best way to improve is practice. Some students have been using their devices to read books. This is a useful strategy – the definition of words can quickly be looked up, and there are some books that allow the student to read a story at the same time as the story is being read to them.
It’s was also great to see the confidence students have in using their devices (BYOD). They quickly navigated material online and were able to show parents what they had been doing in a range of subjects.
Teaching lists in Python can be a little dry. So I decided to add an additional student to the student list. I think the students quite liked Shrek and maybe learned something.
I want to show students how it used to be… but finding one is proving a challenge. A peice of fibre cable would also be useful.
A few experiences this week reminded me to take care with my assumptions about students prior knowledge.
- I asked students to insert <!DOCTYPE html> at the head of a new document. One student admitted she had no idea how to access the “<” and “>” signs on a keyboard.
- Making simple comparative statements eg. drivers_age >= 16. Probably 25% of the class struggle with basic Maths operators ie. >= and <= when constructing conditional statements in Python. Actually assuming any prior knowledge of Maths is a risk… sad but true.
- Comprehension of the contents of a test. The student did virtually nothing. I discovered she could hardly understand a word – her reading skills were not developed sufficiently.
- When asked to attach a file to a gmail – 25% of the FB generation had no idea how to do it.
If a student is not at school on time (say 10:00am) then a text message is sent home by the school. This is routine practice in many schools and necessitates a range of processes, infrastructure, costs, false negatives and false positives etc…
How come students are not responsible for sending a text home to parents/caregivers themselves? Or (in many schools) with parents now able to see attendence records in real time – why don’t they just check themselves. If truancy is an issue then sending a text home is not the answer.
These are not primary school students….