Monday, 30 May 2016

Evaluating Confidence Before, During and After the Course

To help with both the evaluation and design of the course, I've reviewed some alternatives in the LTDI Cookbook.  As what I want to do is review progression of attitudes, skills and knowledge, the confidence log seems to be a good match. To design the one below I've taken each learning objective in turn and broken it into two to four statements for the delegate to give themselves a four point confidence rating from 1 (not at all confident) to 4 (completely confident). This version is of course open and public, for the course a bespoke version could be created that required a login which as well as giving group data (which could be merged across many groups) also could give before and after data for any individual.

I'd present the data (for example as a before and after course analysis) by placing the distribution of responses for each question side by side for the week before the course, and the week after completion.

Week Three: Teaching to Code

As with previous posts, please click on the screenshots from Google Classroom to view them properly. The third week of the learning design sees delegates completing their programming challenge - in reality they have covered all the new programming skills they will need by this point. It also deepens the discussion of strategies and aims to engage the delegate in reflecting on how "if I were in the class I am preparing, which of these strategies would have helped me."

It is a more intensive week as there is more resource material shared, although most will only become useful in the following weeks.

Stage one is the invitation to the online conference. Compared with previous weeks this session can be more free-flowing and conversational. Delegates will be part way through programming their game and will primarily benefit from exploration of things that typically go wrong with Scratch programs (and how to resolve them) and recapping, whilst sharing their own program with the group and discussing the problems they have encountered.

In the 2-3 days after the conference delegates need to finish their Scratch programming and move on. Even if any fail to complete the task, the tutor will need to encourage them to reflect on what they have accomplished and engage with the relatively simply follow up was below.

This task provides the delegates with some resources to read and review, that will hopefully make far more sense now that they have discussed strategies to plan for lessons.

The Angry Birds example is a sample lesson based on that illustrates the use of activities away from the computer. The Storyboard is a staple approach that will be familiar to the teachers from other subject areas and is equally useful here - although they will hopefully be able to share their own or create a better one themselves.  The Scratch Materials folder contains an example pupil workbook and all the materials needed to make cards that can be used for planning, for group activities and for displays.

To build on that, delegates are asked about the particular strategies they have selected, in particular as routines for every lesson.

Towards the end of the week we have a short activity asking delegates to start to consider how they could apply all of this in an area outside the "learning computing silo." This is an important first step in making clear that teaching to code is not a special case, that the skills and experience the teacher has all count here, and that ultimately programming can embed into all their other curriculum planning.

The end of week reflection is more demanding, now asking the delegate to engage in dialogic reflection, going beyond recounting what happened during the week, and considering what made the things that went well go well.

Week two Google Classroom Design

The second week of the course is all set for release in the week of the 14th November notionally - Launch Day + 7 days. As before, clicking on the screenshot opens it full time.

The week starts, as does every week, with the reminder/ invitation to join the 4pm to 5pm online seminar. The session will consist of:
  • A discussion and reflection on the previous week as Q&A
  • An introduction to programming in Scratch. Done as a live demo this takes about 20 minutes, however this will probably take longer when done as an online demo as many of the cues and signals that it is OK to push ahead aren't as easy to pick up when you're working over the web.
  • A short discussion of the practical problems of teaching programming, things that concern delegates, can go wrong, break flow and impede progress (and vitally, the capacity to evidence progress), and having given a couple of examples sharing a wiki produced by teachers of effective strategies.
  • A discussion of the week's work, by the end of which delegates will have made their first Scratch program and reflected on ways they may choose to organise lessons for coding.

After the workshop is a "reminder" assignment to spend some time building their own Scratch program and sharing it in the Yammer group.

The next day, a second reminder, this time to review the strategies document and again to use Yammer as a place to identify the one or two ideas that most resonate for them, and discuss them. As tutor the key role in this discussion is to ensure there isn't a "false consensus" of one idea being the only one and challenging and supporting where it is needed. Again, by the Thursday any delegates not posting may need a reminder email or follow up of some kind to make sure everything is OK.

The weekly review is again simple and descriptive in nature. Whether delegates get feedback within the blog or in response to their post in Yammer is immaterial.

Sunday, 29 May 2016


I found this article in wikispaces useful to help me better frame the purpose and structure of the reflective tasks in my learning design project.

For each task, in my storyboard, I marked it as having a particular level of reflection, to guide me when writing the materials to ensure that the questions, stimulus and framework for response would support an appropriate level  of response.

The levels are descriptive reflection, dialogic reflection and critical reflection.

Descriptive reflection invites the learner to describe what happened or is happening, with some reasons or justifications but which remains a description of or report on that event. In the context of my course design this would involve a question that asked the teacher about concrete past experiences and skills and expected them primarily to set out the facts. Reflecting on my first programming lesson I might describe what had happened and the outcomes in terms of the progress students made.

Dialogic Reflection invites the learner to take a step back from just describing the event to also consider reasons for why things might have happened and what their impact may have been on the  the event. Reflecting on my first programming lesson I might describe what had happened and the outcomes in terms of the progress students made and then the factors that had influenced the activity. For example I might want to describe how a large amount of time was lost in unpicking problems encountered by one or two students, meaning others didn't receive the guidance needed and possible reasons why those students got stuck and why that meant the rest of the class were left waiting.

Critical reflection asks the learner to take a more evaluative position, looking at what happened from different viewpoints to  help understand what happened and why. For example I might want to describe how different sub-groups of students had reacted to the start of the lesson and why, and how my response had been in place, or absent for that, and what might have been done to keep the different groups on track and making progress.

Designing Week One of the Course in Google Classroom

I've selected Google Classroom as the tool to build my course in for the simple (and excellent) reason that it's the one we're deploying as an organisation so it makes sense to use the real tools we'll use for the course (as opposed to making it in something else and it never being used). This blog post sets out the work to build week one of the course (which I'm setting for the week of 7th November 2016 simply to keep it in the 'far future' at the time of writing).

All the screenshots below are clickable to view full sized. Delegates will be welcomed to the course by following an invitation email link.

The first announcement, programmed to appear on the morning of day 1 of their course is the invitation to join the online conference for live discussion and instructions on how to join. The tool used, Appear.In, is one we use fairly often without any incident, but we can't assume all delegates will have prior experience.

During the web-conference we will introduce the course and the activities shown below for week 1, and demonstrate some activities in that we know to be simple, straightforward confidence building activities, where teachers can see the demo over screencast and then load the site and try them themselves.

As soon as the online conference ends we will send out email invitations to join the private course discussion forum. At this stage all we want to be sure of is that every delegate can log in, post something and respond to someone else, so as a tutor my main focus will be in following up on anyone that doesn't post in the group within 48 hours and ensuring that no post goes without comment (but by the same token, keeping in the background so that wherever possible the comments and responses are from the delegates themselves).

This task uses a simple online question to ask delegates to put the resource (what children need to learn about programming, in the language used in the national curriculum guidance) into plain English and in particular engage with the term debug, decompose and repetition. In the online conference and demo of all three terms will have been a particular focus in the presentations. 

Where the delegate fails to respond, this will be an opportunity to reach out to them to ensure they are engaged with the course and discuss it either by email or telephone.

Where they respond well and demonstrate real understanding that will enable the tutor to publish the response to the Yammer group to share with other delegates for comment.

Where the response shows an ongoing dependency on using "defensive terminology" rather than clear explanation, direct feedback via email and an ongoing dialogue will help to explore that further.

This is a resource that the delegates will find useful later, that is best engaged with after a period of "play" with

As well as giving a stimulus to go back to to look again (for anyone that engaged superficially only) it gives delegates some links they may later pick up and use in the planning activities.

At the same time as publishing the tutor will post in the Yammer group a thread to ask for opinions and suggestions about the links. 

This view shows how in Classroom assignments that are not released appear in a "queue" - by the end of the course this will be quite a substantial list of documents!

Approaching the end of week 1 this is the final assignment, scheduled for the Friday.

This assignment shares the course objectives with the delegates (again, they will have seen them when they first enrolled) and asks them to edit the document to create their own personal plan.

The tutor is able to view (and comment) on the objectives set by delegates.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Teaching to Code: Storyboard

This is the storyboard for my learning design.

Even if you enlarge full size the text is too blurry but fear not, it is all shown below.
The storyboard runs as follows:

Weeks 1 and 2, click to view
The main content in the first fortnight is understanding what children need to learn about coding within computing in the national curriculum, an overview of the major resources and tools available and learning to code with Scratch at a basic level - well enough to empathise with and understand what their students will experience and to gain in confidence and personal skill. The bright yellow sheets show the activities, the pale yellow the reflection and assessment (which relates back to the previous post).

Weeks 3, click to view full size

Week 3 develops that further but begins the process of reflecting on how as a teacher you may choose to set up lessons to ensure they can engage all students, retain a sense of progression and purpose and be manageable for 1 or at most 2 adults to support. Some approaches that might work well in other subjects may well (will) prove stifling and limiting if they hold students back from getting to grips with practical work, but being too open to everyone digging in exposes the teacher to unrealistic requirements to troubleshoot and assist.

Week 4
In week 4 the delegates apply that knowledge in designing their own three lesson sequence for their own classes working in pairs, so that they can ask each other questions around how realistic their planning is and ensure they have thought their approach through.

Learning Objectives

This is the learning objectives part of the Storyboard - these objectives though are starting points - in the first and last weeks delegates will be asked to review them and adapt them.

Week 5
In week five delegates respond to the feedback from their peers and from their tutor and make the final adjustments to their lesson plans. 

Week 6
In week six delegates deliver the first of their three lessons and afterwards share the outcomes from the lesson (in terms of student's work so that they can experience and moderate assessment judgements at an early stage) with colleagues that teach similar year-groups.

Week 7
In the seventh week the remaining two lessons are delivered, supported by the feedback and reflection on the progress their class had made and comparing it to similar groups in other academies. Where possible one of those lessons will allow a colleague to visit and informally observe and participate and for the delegate to also visit a colleague's lesson.

Week 8
Finally, in week 8 the delegates take from their lessons material to contribute a learning resource to the shared set of materials for primary teachers teaching computing. In this way they each immediately gain a number of practical ideas for future lessons and their ideas are made available to the network of teachers as a whole. Importantly this activity reinforces the message about how important a part of professional development contributing to the collective set of shared learning resources is. The second main activity is the final review by the delegate on how they have progressed and how they will continue to use their skills in teaching, perhaps applying ideas to other subjects in the future.

Assessment planning for Teaching to Code Learning Design

Following on from the previous post about the course map, this is more thought on assessment and reflection.

In Unit 1
Planning ahead – introduction:

  • Review of prior learning – reflection/ self-assessment (framed and prompted as Descriptive writing)
  • Agreeing the key features we will be looking for in their practice at the end

Unit 2
Learning to code and reflecting on that to prepare for later (framed and prompted as Descriptive reflection)

  • Blog post to reflect on their first complex program and how they learned to solve it
  • Peer assessment/ commentary and response to blog post.

Unit 3
Teaching Strategies for Computing

  • Blog post to reflect on the discussion/ workshop and ideas raised – ranking and justifying choices (framed and prompted as Dialogic reflection).
  • Peer assessment/ commentary and response to blog post.
  • Movenote from tutor posing key questions for the teacher to consider in their planning

Unit 4
Planning a three lesson sequence

  • Peer review/ commentary on planning documents
  • Movenote from tutor giving feedback on final draft
  • Movenote from teacher (student) reviewing what they have learned and comparing the strategies that have been used with the ones they will use themselves (framed and prompted as Dialogic reflection).

Unit 5
Evaluating that three lesson sequence

  • Blog post to reflect on the experience and response using examples of work to demonstrate match to criteria established in unit 1 – tutor feedback. (framed and prompted as Critical reflection)
  • Student feedback via evaluation survey
  • End of course self assessment

Create, critical review & reflection

Create an assessment plan for your module, incorporating good practice that you have read about in section 1. Firstly consider the learning outcomes of your course, then write in your blog answers to the following questions.

What must be assessed?

The assessment needs to be of the level of confidence/ preparedness of the teacher to use the skills of the course in their practice, and in the quality of the lessons themselves.

We would like to assess in these ways (e.g., through an exam, assignment, etc.):

  • Through agreement with the group at the start of the programme the key features we will be looking for in their practice at the end
  • Through the teacher’s planning for one or more lessons
  • Through examples of work produced by their class demonstrating learning/ progress
  • Through evaluation and feedback from pupils.
  • Through sharing critical questions and feedback between final draft stage of preparation and taking the materials into class.

We would rather not assess in these ways:

  • Through testing the ability (of the teacher) to write programs
  • Through formally observing a lesson

We will exploit technology for formative and summative assessment by (e.g., by setting up a multiple-choice exam on our VLE; by providing formative feedback on e-tivities):

  • Using peer review of planning, exercises and drafts within the group during the creation process
  • Using a simple form/ capture to gather pupil feedback

The work done during the course will contribute to formative and summative assessment in these ways:

  • Evidence of understanding of the content to be taught
  • Evidence of understanding of potential teaching strategies applicable to the material

Formative feedback will be offered by tutors and peers in these ways and using these technologies:

  • Through comments on blog posts (and replies to comments)
  • Through in-document comments and suggested edits in Google Docs
  • Through audio and video feedback on final drafts using Movenote

Peer-assessment will be built into your course as follows:

  • Through paired work on planning
  • Through all group response to blog posts

Use the REAP questions and 12 principles to assess your design and the JISC checklist


Do students actively engage with assessment criteria and standards? 
Yes – in the first unit we will ask the teachers on the course to agree the particular features they believe most important in assessing the impact of the course and their progress eg one teacher may be most focused on the ability of their class to solve specific problems in their scheme of work (which at present they lack confidence in delivering) whereas another will be more concerned with more generic transferable skills such as problem solving or independent learning promoted through the work on computing.

Are there formal/informal opportunities for self and peer assessment processes? 
Yes – formal ones.

What kind of feedback is provided - does it help students to self-assess, self-correct? 

  • Are there opportunities for dialogue around assessment tasks? 

Yes – at several points the students as a group and as individuals are responding to the task, how it will be assessed and their feedback.

  • Does feedback focus students on learning not just on their marks? 

There are no marks.

  • Is feedback attended to and acted upon by students? 

Yes – they are required to respond to peer feedback when at early stages and tutor feedback at late stages.

  • How is feedback used to inform and shape teaching? 

Student feedback in Unit 1 and 4 feedback to the course designer – the shape the objectives the group particularly want to reach and reviewing how well the strategies discussed are actually being used.

Course Map for Coding for Teachers Course

The Story So Far...

As part of the study of the Learning Design for the 21st Century unit I'm designing a 5-6 week programme for in-service training for primary teachers focusing on programming, and (more importantly) teaching and learning strategies to make teaching the computing programme of study a positive experience for all concerned. I'm basing the content on a number of workshops I've run as face to face sessions but doing the design with the assumption that the course is online consisting of a mix of live workshops, self study online, online discussion and then practical classroom work with (optionally) a colleague from the course acting as a peer coach and assistant.

This post focuses on the....

Course Map

Click on the image to view full size
The course map provides an overview of the course. Previously I've completed activities around course features and things I do (and don't) want to include - but from this point on, I'm working in terms of quite a specific plan for a course with a beginning, middle and an end.

The Guidance and Support section in Salmon sets out tools the student/ delegate will be able to draw on during the programme

Folder of support material
This is something I have built up now over more than 12 months and consists of ideas for activities, templates, lesson ideas etc. 

Google Classroom course
I've decided to use Google Classroom to host and present the course because it is the tool we already use internally, and therefore one that might actually result in real people using it (I won't begin to describe my feelings about Moodle which we also have available, and the other VLE products mentioned in the course notes, whilst interesting, are not something that will be useful for me to pick up on in the future (and very much the opposite of the PLE style approach I wrote about in unit 1). The classroom course will consist of the units all pre-built and released a unit at a time at the start of each week for delegates. Delegates will join by using a custom URL provided to them by email.

Each time the learning design runs a fresh version of the classroom will be cloned, updated to reflect changes and improvements and released to them a week at a time.

Set of general links and resources
Within the private Yammer discussion group (see below) we will maintain a set of links both to general support for IT and teaching and learning, and more general external sites that will be of value.

Appear.In Meeting Room
We will hold weekly live conferences online using which we've found to be simple, reliable and suitable for groups of up to 8 people.

Dedicated Yammer group
We use Yammer as our private "professional social network" for staff. A private group for each cohort will provide the online community, whilst a larger group will give delegates access to enthusiasts from across our Trust as well as colleagues who completed the course previously.

The Content and Experience section in blue consists of

Five blocks of study activities
I write five but even now I suspect that to break the design down into reasonably even sized chunks, and to preserve a sense of progression and pace, I will finish with a design with more units, each intended to consist of a week of time, one hour of group work online and two or more hours or independent work.

A set of draft learning outcomes they will customise
We will share an initial set of outcomes, but early in the programme delegates will be asked to customise it to their own professional development needs and the context of their own class and academy.

Module material
This is all the content and activities that will be published via Google Classroom.

In mauve we have Reflection in which we have

Personal reflective blog
Each delegate will be provided with a blank blog, set up to share only with the tutor and other delegates (but with the instructions on how to invite others or make it public). This will be the main method by which delegates share the outcomes of their work and give each other feedback.

Group Google Docs folder for planning and resources
We will use Google Docs for collaborative work (planning for 3 lesson activity) where some feedback and response will happen within the work itself.

Self-Assessment Activity
Several times we will ask delegates to assess their work and their progress against their objectives and expectations.

Response to ...
Delegates will be asked to respond to feedback from other delegates, and indeed from their pupils.

Pupil Feedback from lessons
We will all use a common approach to gather feedback from pupils which will not only help evaluate the design but also allow us greater insight into the attitudes and expectations of students to this area of study.

Finally in green we have ways students will Communicate and Collaborate.

Weekly online group tutorials
To ensure the course retains a "shape" and has that all important flow and sense of mutual support, we will meet online each week for one hour. The tutor will lead with content and examples but as the course goes on more and more delegates will be invited to lead sections.

Ongoing asynchronous forum on Yammer
The forum will be the focus for several tasks where we will direct delegates to communicate through it, but also be available for informal and delegate-led discussion.

Telephone (optional tutor), Email (optional tutor)
Telephone and email support remain available for when other media aren't enough.

Personal blog
Each delegates blog and the comments will provide a dialogue around the course content.

Collaboration on planning documents
In pairs delegates will work on detailed planning for some lessons, working either live or asynchronously as they wish.

Access to in-class support from peers.
It should generally be possible to have a delegate from the same or nearby academy visit one of the three lessons at the end of the course, however if that isn't possible we can use colleagues in academies with a teaching and learning brief or ex-delegates as a friendly, supportive presence.