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Friday, May 08, 2015

My life as a tech teacher, part 10: Lessons learned

Freelance technology journalist Alex Cruickshank continues from here. "One of the hardest aspects of teaching is pitching the material at the right level. Although my daughter is one of my students, she's not necessarily representative of the rest of the class in terms of technical knowledge. I can't use her as a benchmark."


So I have to make an educated guess about how to present the information I'm teaching, since it's never been done before in this school. I suppose that's why national curricula exist, though they too have their drawbacks.

To begin the lesson I asked, "What is the internet?" and got a range of interesting replies, most of which were about the web rather than the internet. It's a difference that many adults would fail to appreciate, but I tried to explain it in terms of infrastructure: railway tracks and trains, that kind of thing.

Too abstract. So then I asked the children to come up with a list of their favourite websites for next week. We'll look at the source code for some of them, then move on to one of the Codecademy web development courses. They're designed for adults, but these children are fast learners and I think they'll be able to cope.

For the rest of the lesson we did some more Scratch work: inputs and variables. Asking questions of the user, then using that information to communicate. "What is your name?" "Hello , how are you?" and suchlike. This piqued their interest, with some of the children generating interactive conversations that were conditional upon the previous answers: basic Scratch chat-bots.

Source: IDG Connect