(Literally) ‘Gearing up’ for Make Meet at #ictedu

Pam O'Brien:

The Maker Meet on the 24th April promises to be a fun mix of learning, making and sharing ideas with a hint of competition thrown in to keep it exciting. Register at http://lit.ie/ictedu

Originally posted on magsamondposts:

The annual ICT in Education Conference conference in Tipperary on Saturday April 25th will, as usual, be preceded by a TeachMeet on the Friday night – but in line with the Conference theme of “Make, Bake, Take”, the TM this year has morphed into a Make Meet.

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Those of you who saw the students who’d worked with Bianca Ní Ghrógáin on “The Walk” last year will know what type of thing we’ll be up to. Emphasis on the we – high time for us teachers to have a go! We are planning a  good mix of digital and analogue, a huge variety of ‘stuff’, mashed up with a little bit of challenge and competition, teaching and learning. The take away ideas should be worthwhile. And, as ever, if Steve Bunce is in the house, there may well be some yarn involved…as in, “It’s knitting Jim, but not as…

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CoderDojo Nenagh 3 years on

We’re coming up to our 3rd birthday at CoderDojo Nenagh so I thought I’d share some of what has been happening over the past 3 years.  We’ve been running once a month since the 18th April 2012 with the exception of the summer break and we’ve settled into a great routine.  In the beginning Scratch was the mainstay of the Dojo but we also had Arduino and Python workshops.  For the last year we’ve had Scratch and HTML groups happily working on projects.

For me one of the highlights of the past 3 years was in February 2014 when James Daly and Michael Murphy from Atom Split Games came to do a workshop.  We all thought James and Michael would come with cool technology to show us (well I certainly did :) ), but they came with … paper and markers!  What transpired was a Design workshop that certainly stopped me in my tracks. Our instructions were to put away the laptops and get drawing.  It was an electric session that culminated in a series of presentations that symbolise for me all that is good in CoderDojo.  Here’s a selection of images form that workshop

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DesignWS2Another highlight has been the collaboration with Nenagh Foróige that has just begun.  Our Dojo has been lucky to have a space provided for us by Nenagh Arts Centre since the beginning. Foróige are housed in the same building and before Christmas I was approached with a view to a collaboration.  Foróige run an entrepreneurship programme and they wanted to work with a group of our ninjas with CoderDojo providing the technological know how.  A group was chosen and the fun and games started at the beginning of February.  It’s mostly team building at the moment but in their second week they went to Google HQ in Dublin.  I wasn’t a bit jealous!  10 of our ninjas went and took part in a Dragon’s Den on the day and one of our teams won :)  I’m really looking forward to seeing how this evolves over the coming year …

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Over the years there have been many other highlights that come as part of the package that is CoderDojo … the hum of conversation as ninjas work together making their own games, animations and websites, the smile as a problem is sorted, the quiet confidence as ninjas share what they’ve been working on not to mention the smiling faces coming in the door and the groan when I tell them it’s time to pack up …

It’s been a great few years as CoderDojo Nenagh has evolved.  This has been possible with the help of the parents, some of my former students who have been generous with their time and of course the ninjas themselves.  I’m looking forward to what comes next for the Dojo … :)

Junior Entrepreneur Programme in the Convent Primary Nenagh

My daughter is in 6th class at the moment and seems to be really enjoying her last year in Primary School.  This is in no small part due to the many projects her class are undertaking under the guidance of her teacher.  They’ve undertaken a variety of research projects as well as the Intel Mini Scientist Programme and more recently the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP).  I was lucky enough to make it in to the school for the JEP showcase the week before last and I’m so glad that I did.  What greeted me was a class of 29 girls eager to share their ideas, evidence of their hard work and most of all their enthusiasm.

The programme started back around Christmas time when the girls were asked to each come up with an idea that they could produce as part of the programme.  They then worked in small groups and each group chose one idea to bring forward.  Some of the ideas included customised hoodies, smartphone speakers, bracelets and more …

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Over the course of the programme the girls learned more about business and were visited by a local entrepreneur.  Each team then worked on their idea before presenting it at a Dragon’s Den in the school.  After the Dragons’s Den one idea was chosen for the entire class to progress with and another iteration of the process began.  The class were divided into teams including :  StoryTelling, Finance, Sales, Design & Production and Marketing.  Each team had an area to work on and got to work.  What blew me away at the showcase was that as soon as you stepped in to the hall, the girls were full of chat to tell you all about what they had done.   The teams showed articles from the local paper,  their ideas of the qualities an entrepreneur should have

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their surveys

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their fab logo

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their flyer

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and last but by no means least their fab bracelets

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Check out the class blog post where you can find their PowerPoint of their JEP Story. One of the girls also created a website for the product based on the HTML she learned at CoderDojo Nenagh.

I’ve been going in to the girls showing them some IT concepts since they were in senior infants so it’s been lovely to see them grow into the confident young girls they have become.

Scratch with Silvermines NS

For the past four weeks I’ve been working with the 4th class pupils in Silvermines National School. We’ve been using Scratch and it’s been great fun for all of us :) The class are in a mixed class with 5th and 6th so it was lovely for me to have a small group to work with.  We only had an hour a week but we’ve covered a lot.

The first week was taken up with showing the basics of Scratch and getting comfortable with how to get things done. Some of that morning was spent training their robots (i.e myself and their teacher).  What was lovely to see was that they had already played this game as Gaeilge over the previous couple of weeks so they had already begun to think algorithmically without even being aware of it.

Week 2 saw us working on a basic Scratch game involving a shark, a fish, some basic movement and changing costumes.  This game helped to introduce topics like collision detection, scores, broadcasting to trigger an event and many other game related concepts.  Weeks 3 and 4 then saw the group working in pairs to create their own games and animations.  I really enjoyed seeing what they came up with and seeing how getting something working really spurred them on to improve their game.

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We also had fun with a Makey Makey apple piano …

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… before bringing a human version back in to show the rest of their class :)

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