From design thinking to Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling, unplugged computational thinking to light-up cities, you can guarantee that a London CLC primary computing conference will be varied, enlightening and always inspiring.
Twice a year, primary school computing subject leaders gather at London CLC’s HQ in Clapham for a packed day of CPD. What can you expect from the day? Here’s a glimpse, with highlights from our most recent conference.
Keynote presentations are an opportunity to hear from someone with fresh ideas you might not normally come across in your working life. They could be from outside the primary teaching world, possibly even beyond the education sphere altogether, but they will always present concepts and tools that have a relevance to the work you do.
At the June conference we welcomed Oli Rees, who trains Google’s apprentices in design thinking, and he explored the importance of audience and purpose in digital making. He pointed out that design thinking, which is often ignored in education around technology, is about not what you could build but what you should build. One of the things that tends to be missing from a lot of children’s programming activities is taking an idea through the design process to the end. He urged that, when we take children into the IT suite, we try to start on paper, with the design thinking: what is it you are going to do and why? Think about personas and the audience, who is this for and what do they need to know and do? For those who may be wary of technology, Oli advised that “when you combine a project-based approach and design thinking it encourages people to suspend their disbelief about technology. It reframes the perception of what something is about so it becomes something they can relate to.”
We know that updates are one of the conference elements that teachers really find useful – solid, essential information that can be taken back to school and shared. This summer’s conference updates included:
- Ofsted and computing – with links to resources including 360safe tool, UKCSSI guidance, the Educated for a Connected World framework, Google’s Be internet legends and DfE YouTube videos on technology from BETT.
- Critical literacy and fake news – with links to the recent Fake News report and National Literacy Trust resources.
- London Grid for Learning and its resources, tools and training.
- Computing curriculum and gender (catch up with our long read on the topic and latest podcast).
This is where you get stuck in! There is usually the opportunity to choose three workshops out of six and you are guaranteed to come away with ideas to use in class. For example, when participants in our June conference explored design thinking with Oli Reese, they spent time developing personas and user journeys, learning how to help pupils take a wider view about why they are designing code, who is it for and what it needs to achieve.
There was also an Unplugged workshop, looking at how concepts and skills can be usefully developed away from the screen. In the Light-up city workshop, teachers got a taste of what a pupil workshop is like, using Crumble and Sparkle to create circuits then delving into the arts and crafts crate to make buildings that light up thanks to the technology. Swift Playgrounds, Apple’s free coding app released as part of the ‘Everyone Can Code’ initiative, develops pupil coding skills beyond block-based coding, and this workshop explored it in a hands-on way.
The pedagogy of programming workshop looked at different levels of scaffolding and the impact that they have on pupil learning. Meanwhile, in supporting children’s storytelling with technology, teachers took on board Bruner’s assertion that “world creation is an act of imagination. It underpins all thinking” and learnt how to make a short animation with Adobe Spark (while being introduced to lots of other storytelling resources along the way).
Time and again teachers tell us how much they value the community of practice we enable – the opportunity to share ideas and experiences and hear how others are tackling an issue – whether that’s in the sessions or over delicious food in the lunch break. Here’s what a few teachers had to say recently after attending the summer conference:
“At the conferences it’s the sharing of ideas, learning about updates, people sharing their experiences, networking, finding out about what’s happening in other schools as well as exciting things such as the sessions we’ve had this morning.” (Dougal, curriculum coordinator)
“The conferences are excellent, we get lots of updates on what’s new and reminders as well of things that you knew about but need to go back and highlight at school. They always bring in different speakers with interesting ideas and concepts.” (Katy, year two teacher and computing coordinator)
“Thinking about it? Definitely sign up. You’ll come away with a load of useful ideas, practical things to use in lessons, it gets you thinking about what you’re going to change, what you’re going to do differently in your school. It also helps to hear ideas from colleagues in different schools.“ Joy, IT coordinator teaching nursery and years one and beyond).
Interested in finding out more? Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or give James a call on 0207 720 7514. Our next primary computing conference is on 5 December [link] but if you can’t wait that long, why not have a look at some of our other CPD opportunities, such as Creative Arts Forum, New to subject leadership in primary computing or data security for schools? Find out more on our website.
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