Blogpost of the Week

Coding: It's a WoMANS World!

According to the National Science Board’s “Science and Engineering Indicators for 2012,” women make up only 26% of Computer Science and Mat...

Coding: It's a WoMANS World!

According to the National Science Board’s “Science and Engineering Indicators for 2012,” women make up only 26% of Computer Science and Mathematical Science professionals in the United States.  With female participation in Computer Science, specifically,  dropping to 18% from a 37% peak in the mid- the 1980s.

In 2006, the government of Japan established a target to increase the share of women researchers in science to 20% and in engineering to 15%. Unfortunately, in 2016, these goals were not met, with women in Japan representing less than one-sixth (13.6%) of engineering majors.

Arriving in Japan from England, one of the first countries to formally recognise the importance of teaching children computing from aged five and up, I came with a fixed mindset regarding the fundamentals of learning how to program.  Here at Seisen, through activity session with small groups, increasingly I am building more and more opportunities for students to get into coding into curricular content and using coding as a tool for learning.

There is a demand, a "revolution" if you like, with over 1000 apps released daily to the app store and with women installing 40 percent more apps than men, buying 17 percent more paid apps, and paying an astonishing 87 percent more for those apps.  This fact raises several questions: What is currently being done? What needs to be done to ensure coding becomes a part of grassroots learning?


Introducing coding to your children is becoming more and more accessible for those who a) aren’t familiar with the term 'code' and b) the various interpretations.  The number of blog posts similar to this one, the number of open source software and guides being produced and published to the web makes the subject of computer coding easy to grasp for learners, young or old. :) 

Scratch & Scratch Jr.

Scratch is my number one go to, particular the Scratch Jr iOS and Android for getting started in Kindergarten.  Scratch is ideal for children (or adults) with little or even no coding experience. These programs using building blocks, students can create animations, games and digital stories.

Thank you to Natalee (Grade One) who used Scratch Jr to create this digital story while in kindergarten!



Students are starting to ask why? Why will this happen? What happens if I change this? 

Tynker

I am using Tynker with students who are attending afterschool SASA.  Students commented how this is a "fun" way of learning to code and program.

I find it is an easy way for children to learn the basics of computational thinking and programming skills.

Thanks to Kate (Grade 5) for her take on the phenomena that is Angry Birds!  This is just the beginning - look out App Store :)


Take at look at Sanskriti's Pre-historic Comic




Code.org 

At Seisen, our elementary school students are registered users of code.org. The website was launched in 2013 to advocate for wider access to computer science learning in schools.  Seisen students' each have an individual login, and are able to explore this at their leisure and actively encouraged to do so. Students and staff participate in the Hour of Code, using this website as a platform to develop and deepen conceptual understanding of computer programming in a self-paced learning environment.

Using Minecraft, Starwars, and Zombie vs. Plants to develop conceptual understanding

Parents, teachers & students, I hope you can take something from this blog post and either give one of the above examples a try for yourself when you have some available time and, as always, I would love to hear and see what you are doing with computer programming.  

Sources:

National Science Foundation, “Science and Engineering Indicators 2012,” http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/c0/c0i.htm, (January 2012).

National Center for Education Statistics, “Degrees conferred by degree-granting institu- tions,” http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/ tables/dt12_318.asp, (May 2012).

Government of Japan, Science and Technology Basic Plan (Provisional Translation) (2006): p. 25.

Government of Japan, The 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan (Provisional Translation) (2016): p. 35.

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, “Population of Undergraduate Students by Major,” School Basic Survey 2015 (In Japanese) (2015).

Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, “Female Researchers Support Japan’s Science and Technology: In Honor of Science and Technology Week,” Statistical Topics, No. 8 (2014).

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/03/there-are-only-3-countries-where-girls-feel-more-comfortable-with-math-than-boys/284272/

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Playing Games has Never Been So Fun!

After having just spent the last two hours 'playing games' with grade six I feel the need to write a blog post and explain my actions :) 

The current unit, Sharing the Planet, in this case should be called, 'Spreading the Planet with Disease!'

Let me dissect this for you readers:
Box 1 of the PYP Planner
With the above explanation in mind, how do I justify 'playing games' for two hours?  It is no secret that if we give a student an iPad with little or no guidance, they will just ' play around.' They might learn something from it, but do they really know what they have learned and how to record, articulate to others, and share in their ePortfolio?

It is fascinating to watch students frantically press the iPad screen in the hope that something will happen and with the expectation they can win! It is even more rewarding when I interact with students, observe, listen and facilitate with their inquiry.  

The objective of the simulation app, Plague Inc., might be to spread the disease and avoid a cure being found before it has taken over. However, the REAL learning intention in our classroom is to spread the disease and prevent a cure being found with a critical mind, by developing a strategy, applying previous knowledge, collaborating and learning from others.

Now, let us discuss the "frantic" approach in which grade six tackled this app, and bear in mind that they were asked to record their observations and findings using the below matrix.  Students were expected to document the changes/actions that help spread the disease and record the changes/actions that hinder the disease to spread and examples from the real world.

Question: How many students were actually recording during this "frantic" period?  You guessed it: very little! Remember, they were playing!  
At this point, the students noticeably started to slow down.  The noise levels dropped.  Students became engaged and serious about the task in hand.  It was not about winning that comes with gaming, it became about using prior knowledge to further the spread of their disease, about collaborating with their peers to hear and see what they are doing well and how they might replicate this in their simulation.

A particular stand out moment for me was from Isabella, when she perceptively informed those around her that if they were starting in a cold country, then would need to make sure that the cold wouldn't hinder the spread of the disease.

Where would start the spread of a deadly disease and Why?




Students watch their screens, react to the news and come up with strategies to further spread the disease.



Related Blog Posts: Not all screentime is screen time


As always, we would love to hear your comments. Feel free to share and follow me on Twitter!


Mr Towse

It's Time to Type | World Creative Writing Month

What does technology integration mean for typing?

I believe that being able to type is one thing, but being able to type correctly is something else altogether. Daily, I am amazed by the speeds at which young people type on their mobile cell phones, and often a lot quicker than they can write with a pen or a keyboard for that matter, but are they able to do it properly and what skills are they developing along the way. 

What if we could put this to productive use....

Would your class enjoy competing against schools from around the world?


World Creative Writing Month is back, starting Wednesday 1st March 2017. This global creative writing competition will see students from near and far competing to rise to the top of the league table and walk knowing they gave their best effort and potentially won some awesome prizes. I am truly humbled to be flying the flag and wearing my "Night Zookeeper" badge here in Tokyo, Japan. Night Zookeeper started in the UK before launching in  Fargo USA and Osaka in Japan.

Find out more and sign up here at Night Zookeeper.

If you missed it last year, then check out my blog post: World Creative Writing Month 2016 

I was sharing stories with those near and far and I am looking forward to being a part of the Night Zoo Ambassador team across the world and sharing stories in the Night-Times.



If you are interested in hearing more or help with signing up, I look forward to hearing from you +Mr Towse 

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