Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Weeks 5/6

And now onto weeks 5/6 for the PCK course I’m studying. Within two/three weeks we’ll be heading out into schools, so the content for this week is starting to become fairly central. i.e. what is the curriculum and how are you meant to plan teaching/learning around that curriculum.

Essential learnings for secondary middle phase

By the end we should be able to use the “essential learnings” (i.e. the Queensland curriculum) to plan.

After a bit of reading, brief summary of last week, onto an activity that seeks to aid in unpacking the essential learnings for our teaching areas.

I’m doing mathematics and ICT/IPT/IT. ICT is not an essential learning, at least not in terms of standalone subject teaching ICT. It is instead something embedded within all courses. There is support for a separate course in terms of borrowing from other KLAs. But it’s not real well defined, just yet. Especially for ICTs, those guidelines are “coming soon”.

WoW and K&U

Not World of Warcraft, but Ways of Working. It’s the combination of WoW and Knowledge and Understanding that is the focus of teaching, learning and assessment (apparently). However, individual components may be taught, the aim is to build up to the combination.

Intent is to use approaches to learning that are:

  • student-centred.
  • Active engagement.
  • Learning through investigation.

Unpacking Mathematics

So, the idea here is to use the Mathematics KLA to answer a range of questions aimed at “unpacking” the KLA. In the following I’ve used the questions being asked as a scaffold for my interpretations.

Learning and assessment

Am using this PDF as it gives an overview of the learning and assessment for the mathematics KLA across all the junctures. My main focus will be on the year 7 (what they should know) and 9 (what I’ll have to help them learn) junctures.

Looking for the key messages about what is taught and how it is taught

  • What is the nature of the KLA?
    To teach math!? Seriously, the aim appears to be to build on previous recognition of the connection between math and real life situations and expand the more abstract/mathematical applications. It does appear to have a focus on developing students who are able to manipulate/use/apply mathematics to a range of situations. To be able to see it in context. There is emphasis on collaboration and discussion. There does appear to be aspects of this that connect with the idea of quantitative literacy introduced in the literacy and numeracy course.
  • What are the implications for pedagogy?
    It has to be a lot more than read the book and do the exercises, which is what I remember of mathematics at high school. Which implies that pedagogy is going to require a fair bit more effort. i.e. I’m not confident that I currently could connect much of the content to real world contexts.
  • What does L&T look like in this class?
    Active, social, authentic…etc. But I retain just a touch of skepticism that insists that there should be appropriate levels of direct instruction as a scaffold/enabler.

Assessable elements

Using this document.

  • What are the assessable elements?
    I find it interesting that there is currently no discussion in this of weighting. Are all the assessable elements meant to be weighted equally? A decision for teachers/schools? I’ll copy the “rubric entry” for the A descriptor for each element

    • Knowledge and understanding.

      Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of concepts, facts and procedures

    • Thinking and reasoning.

      Insightful application of mathematical processes to generate solutions and check for reasonableness

    • Communicating

      Clear and accurate communication of ideas, explanations and findings using mathematical representations, language and technologies

    • Reflecting.

      Perceptive reflection on thinking and reasoning, the contribution of mathematics and learning

      Not sure this one is written grammatically correct.

  • How are they demonstrated in K&U and WoW?
    The first three are covered well in both. Though communication may not be quite as obvious, it seems to be there. Reflection is even less obvious in K&U. Both communicating/reflecting are more obvious in the WoW, with actual specific WoW related to the two. However, these tend to reflect activities that students should be doing with the K&U.
  • Are they auditable across both?
    I’m not even sure that make sense to be able to do.
  • What will assessment look like?
    An appropriate mix. Some individual tests/assignments focused on some core knowledge, but lots of authentic assessment to test the real world stuff, group work etc.

Knowledge and understanding

  • What are the conceptual headings for Year 9? What are the conceptual statements in each?
    • Number – Number properties and operations and a range of strategies can be applied when working with integers and rational numbers.
    • Algebra – Variables, algebraic expressions and equations, relationships and functions can be described, represented and interpreted.
    • Measurement – Units of measure, instruments, formulas and strategies can be used to estimate and calculate measurement and consider reasonable error.
    • Chance and data – Judgments can be based on theoretical or experimental probability. Data can be displayed in various ways and analysed to make inferences and generalisations.
    • Space – Geometric conventions can be used to describe, represent, construct and manipulate a range of complex geometric shapes. Mapping conventions can be used to represent location, distance and orientation in maps and plans.
  • how detailed are the concepts, facts and procedures for each conceptual statement?
    They seem to be descriptions of “classes”/collections of problems. e.g.

    Lengths and angles that cannot be measured directly can be investigated using scale, similarity or trigonometry

  • What is the purpose of the examples?
    Mmm, this was stated in the presentation.They essentially offer clarification of what is intended.
  • What is it that you will be teaching as core concepts/facts/procedures?
    Mmmm, the stuff listed under K&U, especially pointed to by the bullet points for each conceptual statement. Am I missing something here?

Ways of working

THe comparison of WoW for the mathematics KLA

  • WoW are processes, generally complex reasoning. What are the implications of this for teaching and learning?
    A significant amount of teaching would have to focus on introducing, modelling, practising and reflecting upon these processes. i.e. how concepts are taught and introduced will need to explicitly draw on these WoW, the students need to see them in action and reflection upon them. They need to practice this. There will be overlap between these. The processes themselves are key ways of learning….
  • They can be used in their entirety or as subsets, what would be the difference for each of these?
    Overall, the complete WoW describe expectations of students at the end of the juncture. Subsets are more likely to be used in developing skills with these processes. e.g. “evaluate their own thinking and reasoning” includes 2/3 applications, only 1 might be covered at the start. Aspects of some WoW may be used as part of another. May wish to highlight these aspects.
  • If WoW are essential, what is the implication for grading students?
    The assessment has to provide students an opportunity to provide examples of the WoW. If you don’t have this evidence, you can grade them on the missing WoW.

K&U and WoW together

Learning, teaching, and assessment are required to focus on develop and deepen K&U through WoW. What are the implications for

  • Type of unit plan.
    Interesting, I don’t recall the concept of “unit plan” being explicitly covered in any of the courses. It’s been mentioned in passing, but…

    So let’s start with an annotated unit plan.

  • Method of assessment.
  • The pedagogy required.

Mmm, not sure I’m getting much out of this activity, not sure I could reasonably get much out of it. Much of the latter stuff gets even a little more opaque, or straight forward. e.g. what philosophy? Well it’s been explicitly stated in the slides – constructivism – though the essential learnings themselves don’t explicitly state this, it’s a fair interpretation.

Planning a nunit

Okay, so this should be interesting. Using an assessment alignment planner to plan a unit. This is the guts of it.

Mmm, gotten tired of terminology duplication for some and lack of standard definitions for others. Incredibly difficult to figure out exactly what is required from the question, how best to go about it, and how much authenticity it has with real practice.

Will have to ask and come back to this later. That’s disappointing.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Week 4

So, only two weeks to catch up on this course.

Curriculum frameworks

This week appears to focus primarily on the curriculum we’ll be teaching to within the state of Queensland: Key Learning Areas (KLAs) and Essential Learnings. Some or much of which will change next year with the introduction of the Australian national curriculum.

Queensland Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting (QCAR) Framework

Aligning curriculum, assessment and reporting. Contain (amongst other things) essential learnings that incorporate national statements. Ahh, the problem of teachers “subverting” curriculum. Interesting language, not talented teachers adapting problematic curriculum.

Queensland School Reform Longitudinal Study (QSRLS) study of what happens in courses: findings:

  • alignment needed – most teachers did not see good assessment as integral to good classroomp ractice
  • effective teachers assert much control and are willing to subvert curriculum learning to gaps
  • Need for PD in assessment and moderation
  • supportive classroom environment – done well, high frequency
  • intellectual quality – ok in some, infrequent, low level
  • recognition of difference – limited, done poorly
  • relevance – infrequent, limited, done poorly
  • efficient school management important, but school leaders must focus on curriculum and pedagogical leadership.

Literature futures, a government benchmark which is no longer easily discoverable online

  • close correlation between socio-economic background and low achievement.
  • Qld has 20% of Oz 0-15 years, but 49% of 0-15 in lowest decile of CSE
  • Traditional intervention models not working for these students.

And now research by Schmoker (2006 I think). 1500 classrooms studied. Lots of “busy” work with no connection to syllabus, assessment, standards, poorly planned lessons, irrelevant worksheets, inequitable classroom practices, little assessment, no feedback…..But why is this? Is it simply that a class with lots of low SOE students is hard to teach and teachers in these contexts are deprived of support, creating a circle of poor practice?

A post here talking about Schmoker’s later work points out the importance of checking for understanding and a classroom with lots of advanced/authentic reading/writing. And suggests avoiding all fads.

QCAR and the four Cs: consistency, continuity, comparability of standards, creating space for deeper learning.

Five elements of QCAR

  1. Essential learnings – what to teach.
    Seen as an agreed core, not the whole curriculum. Common basis for planning. COvers KLAs and key juncture points – 3, 5, 7, 9.

    Three components:

    1. Learning and assessment focus.
    2. Ways of working.
    3. Knowledge and understanding.
  2. Standards – common language to describe achievement
    Link to the assessable elements within the Essential learnings for each KLA, in particular in the learning and assessment focus part.
  3. Assessment bank – quality assessment and resources.
  4. QCATs – Qld Comparable Assessment Tasks (4, 6, 9) – demonstrate what students know…and support consistency of teacher judgements.
  5. Guidelines for reporting – consistency.
    1. Intent is to ensure commonality in what is taught but diversity in how it is taught. Is big on the alignment between: what is taught (essential learnings), what is assessed (Assessment and QCATS), and what is reported (Standards and guidelines for reporting).

      Descriptors of quality

      Find it interesting that the standards are accompanied by the following table that sets out the appropriate words to use as descriptors of quality.

      A B C D E
      Comprehensive
      Insightful
      Proficient
      Discerning
      Well-reasoned
      Clear
      Perceptive
      Controlled
      Skilful
      Accurate
      Significant
      Well-justified
      Thorough

      Thoughtful
      Logical
      Coherent
      Effective
      Logical
      Purposeful
      Informed
      Accurate
      Proficient
      Satisfactory
      Suitable
      Competent
      Relevant
      Credible
      Sound
      Appropriate
      Functional
      Narrow
      Variable
      Disjointed
      Superficial
      Rudimentary
      Minimal
      Unclear
      Cursory
      Vague

      ICTs as cross-curricular

      Oh dear, there are powerpoint slides that examine the ICT KLA, which is positioned as cross-curricula. A copy follows, I really dislike this sort of quasi-quantitative camouflaging of fuzzy, often incorrect ideas. I really dislike the automatic assumption that direct instruction cannot develop higher order skills.

      National curriculum

      Of course the really interesting thing is that within a year or two all of the above might be somewhat less than important. Mainly due to the rise of the national curriculum.

      Problem graph

The next step for the LMS?

This post draws on this article about Google’s Talk Guru to argue the need for systems that support people at the point of them carrying out some task.

I think this is one of the more interesting possibilities as the next step/enhancement for an LMS. In fact, it’s one of the few benefits I can see for keeping some sort of centralised/institutional LMS.

Rather than expect people to attend formal training sessions, or worse expect them to access recorded formal training sessions, have an LMS that scaffolds the student/teachers interactions with the LMS. For example, as they start adding a discussion forum to a course, the LMS provides a mechanism through which good practice can be harnessed.

The exact form of that “good practice” is fairly open. But I would suggest that the easier it makes it for that good practice to be implemented, the better.

It would be even better if this approach was not informed by what is deemed theoretically correct by the educational intelligentsia but instead connects with what people are actually doing and looks for ways it can be made better. An informed mix of paving the cowpath and improving it.

And it doesn’t have to be complex.

e.g. a simple addition to the discussion forum tool in an LMS that showed an academic the average number of posts/replies made by the other staff in the course cohort and perhaps more broadly. Put it in a graph and show where that staff member’s posts in the current course fit in the range. Underneath it have some links to literature/blog posts that talk about the benefits of teacher engagement, and some links to information about how other staff are using the forums.

Difficulties

In terms of “paving the cowpath”, I think this is where one of the gaps (potentially a broadening gap) is occurring. The distance between the people who are supporting academics (who know what the cowpaths are), the people who can change the LMS (those who can pave the cowpath), and the people who decide whether or not the paving can happen is growing.

This could be argued as the situated cognition future of the LMS.

Amplify’d from blogoehlert.typepad.com
that just means getting info that people need to them, when and where they need it

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Supportive Learning Environments: Week 3, 4, 5 and 6

And now begins a couple of weeks catch up, and hopefully getting up. The following is reflection on weeks 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the course on Supportive Learning Environments I’m studying.

Culture, Society and Difference – Week 3

The focus questions given for the week are

  1. How do our sociocultural values shape our attitudes towards groups of people?
  2. What are the limitations of stereotypes?
  3. What is the relationship between stereotyping and prejudice?
  4. How do racism and discrimination evolve?
  5. Should diversity be accommodated or celebrated?

Already I am thinking of the point about human-beings being pattern-match intelligences . It seems that stereotypes and prejudice are examples of pattern matching, rather than rational decision making at action. We’ll see.

Definitions

So, we’re asked to write down the following words (with some space in-between, as if the net gen would be using paper!) and write down meanings we associate with them. I feel the immediate need to do some Google work to develop a more formal meaning before expressing my current opinions. Will ignore that for now.

  • Stereotype – an abstract template/description used to describe characteristics deemed common to a group of people, often used as the basis for decision making/treating that group all the same.
    Am wondering what the difference is between this and archetype?
  • Prejudice – a negative belief about someone that arises from a particular characteristics, rather than actual knowledge of the individual.
    I find this meaning particularly weak and ill-informed. Though it matches okay with the provided definitions.
  • Racism – a belief that a particular race/group of people are in someway inferior to another.
    I missed the idea that racism believes that different human races have distinctive characteristics.
  • Discrimination – actions against a person or people that disadvantage them and are based on a particular characteristic(s).

There’s more reading from the textbook, but no

Indigenous students – Week 4

Focus questions

  • What are your own attitudes towards Indigenous peoples?
  • Why has there been an acceptance of poor learning outcomes for Indigenous students?
  • How can teachers attempt to meet the needs of Indigenous students better?

First off is a set of slides outlining what teachers need to know about indigenous students. At the root of all this is the perspective that it doesn’t appear any different from “good teaching”. i.e. every student is different, value and engage with that diversity. There then appears to be a slight tendency to somewhat “stereotype” indigenous students. i.e. that there is some collective set of characteristics that they all have. Though those characteristics are never really mentioned in specifics…

There’s also a pointer to a MACER report on indigenous education. It has a very “Waiting for Superman” section in which it bemoans that lack of challenge to teachers about the on-going lack of improvement fo indigenous students. While not entirely dismissing the problem of some teachers, this response seems to go a bit far and seems to ignore the influence of socio-economic status. i.e. it is known (and oft-repeated) that a low SES environment has significant impacts on learning outcomes + a large % of indigenous students come from low SES backgrounds, which seems to suggest that SES status is a significant contributing factor here. Certainly schools and teachers should be doing more, but there are other needs as well. The report does pick this up a bit now.

There is then a DEST funded study on self-identity for indigenous students. Perhaps not so surprisingly was the finding that self-identity “is complex and multi-faceted: varies with context; it has multiple dimensions that are valued differently by different individiuals…”. But some commonality around “kinship group, sense of history, language, traditional practices, and place”

Students with high support needs

Focus questions

  • What range of characteristics may be associated with students who have ‘high support needs’?
    Basically anyone who requires an additional level of support in order to effectively participate in school. But it does appear likely that they have to fit into one of the established categories. Which is the problem facing folk with dyscalculia. Given that “high support needs” students are defined by disability categories, one answer to this question is to list those categorise: ASD, SLI, HI, II, VI…
  • How do you feel about including these students in your classroom?
    Uncertain, but then I’m uncertain about most aspects of teaching at the moment. Mainly because I haven’t done it yet. It’s a mystery. Obviously, one feeling is that teaching will be hard enough without also having to deal with someone who has “high support needs”. Mostly because it adds yet another level of novelty to the process. After a bit of experience, this would be somewhat lessened, but I imagine the perception of workload would remain. As with all things it seems to depend on the specifics of the context. i.e. having a student with high support needs within a school where this is an accepted practice, would be somewhat easier than some alternatives.
  • How can the teacher feel prepared to accommodate high support needs?
    This appears to mirror good teaching practice. i.e. know your students, know what resources are available, build collaborative networks within and outside the classroom/school

Apparently an area of education replete with acronyms, though I’m not finding too many areas of education that aren’t.

  • EAP – Educational Adjustment Program.
    A program of resource distribution used to support high support needs students. Such students have to fit within one of the categories of disability.
  • IEP – Individualised education plans.
    Based on an EAP, map out what will be done for the student.
  • The categories are
    • II Intellectual Impairment
      IQ of 70 or below. Question: This raises the point about IQ. I thought that IQ was not a measure of fixed intelligence, just intelligence as it currently stands. That it can be improved. In the explanation, the diagnosis seems to focus on genetic problems as the cause.
    • ASD Autistic Spectrum Disorder
    • SLI Speech Language Impairment
    • HI Hearing Impairment
    • VI Visual Impairment
    • PI Physical Impairment
    • IAS – II/ASD

This is where I feel that I am missing something, a slide I’m looking at lists the following three tips for inclusion

  • Find out the specific needs of the student
  • Identify resources available to you
  • Foster social networks and learning activities that encourage interaction and participation by all students

These look like fairly good guidelines for teaching in general.

Inclusive strategies

So, onto some actual classroom strategies to deal with this. Already starting to seem like general good practice.

Focus questions

  • What strategies can be used to cater for a range of abilities?
  • What implications are there for assessment procedures when catering for a range of abilities?
  • What are the potential benefits for students when they participate in cooperative learning?
  • What role does the teacher play in cooperative learning?

A powerpoint slide covering various collaborative strategies- peer teaching etc – and now onto reading Chapter 4 of the text. Oops, that should be chapter 7.

And now an online resource on collaborative learning. It gives an interesting spectrum of learning approaches

  • Co-operative – working together to accomplish shared goals.
  • Competitive – work against each other to attain grades such as an A, which only a few students can attain.
  • Individualistic – students work by themselves towards learnings goals unrelated to those of others.

What about a “network” approach? Somewhat individualistic but connected to the work of others?

Mmm, interesting suggests Lewin refined the notion of a group to incldue

  1. Essence of a group is the interdependence among members.
  2. An intrinsic state of tension between group members to motivate them toward accomplishement of the desired common goals.

Ahh, and now Deutsch suggesting three types of interdependence: positive, negative and none.

In formal cooperative learning teachers’ roles are

  1. Make pre-instructional decisions.
  2. Explain the task and cooperative structure.
  3. Monitor learning and intervene to assist
  4. Assess learning and help students process how their groups functions.

Suggests different approaches: informal cooperative learning, cooperative base groups.

And now 5 essential elements for good cooperation

  1. positive interdependence.
  2. individual and group accountability.
  3. Promotive interaction.
  4. Appropriate use of social skills.
  5. group processing.

And goes onto to summarise large body of research findings showing the benefits of cooperative over competitive and individual approaches to learning.

And now a reading

Conway, R. (2001). Adapting curriculum, teaching and learning strategies. In P. Foreman (Ed.) Integration and inclusion in action (2nd ed.), pp. 262-310. Southbank, VIC: Nelson Thomson Learning.

Problems for teaching scholars

It appears that there is an increasing, ERA driven trend within Australian universities for placing greater emphasis on teaching scholars. These are academics who are no longer expected to do research, apart from engage scholarly with their own teaching practice.

Why is ERA driving this? Well, from a distance, it appears that teaching scholars reduce the number of “research active” staff at a university. The reduction of this pool apparently helps prevent the dilution of ERA “scores” by those academics who have never really gotten into research.

I have significant problems with university management that are pushing this through for the wrong reasons, but I’ll leave those aside. This post from Mark Guzdial highlights the other category of problems. i.e. creating and pushing hard for people to become “teaching scholars” is a significant change. A significant change that is going to require re-thinking various policies and processes within an institution. I doubt very much that university management are engaging in that re-thinking, yet.

Guzdial raises/suggests two points, there are almost certainly many more

  1. Testing ideas in your own classroom is not convincing.
    If any of these “teaching scholars” actually engage scholarly with their own teaching it will almost certain take this form. Try something in my class, run a survey, write an ASCILITE/AACE paper. (The fact that they are being pushed into the teaching scholar role because they aren’t research active does not bode well for the level of scholarly engagement in their own teaching).
  2. Ethics issues around studying your own course.
    For some times, there has been complaints from folk researching their own teaching that the human ethics constraints are too heavyweight. In part, this appears to be due to the “one size fits all” approach to ethics approval. But Guzdial reports on MIT’s much stricter perspective. Researching our own class is an inherent conflict-of-interest, you can’t do it.

It’s going to be interesting watching the law of unintended consequences play its part as the ERA band wagon roles on and what shape Australian higher education will be in at the end of it.

Amplify’d from computinged.wordpress.com
My colleague Amy Bruckman told me that, at MIT, the Human Subjects Review Board will not allow a researcher to gather data on his or her own classroom.  There is an inherent conflict-of-interest, if you are studying your class and teaching your class.
Your classroom is a great place to get ideas.  It’s never a great place to test your ideas. You should test your ideas so as to convince others — testing in your class is akin to saying, “See! It worked for me!”  That’s not convincing.

Read more at computinged.wordpress.com

 

Literacy and Numeracy: Week 4

Week 4 of the literacy and numeracy course.

Hot topics in literacy and numeracy

So, literacy, especially reading, is important. At least back in 2004 when this interview was undertaken. It is of one of President’s Bush advisors.

Another point about about how poverty and its impacts, in this case with such children living in households where reading is not a priority. Also suggesting limitations in terms of discussions in the house. At 4/5 this can be a gap of twice the size, by 12th grade it can be 4.

Reading is not a natural activity.

No improvement program is not equally beneficial for all kids, there is no magic bullets.

Point about a lot of middle/high school kids not being active readers.

Find this comment interesting

You know, programs that taught kids to guess from pictures or from surrounding context. The evidence indicating that that is actually counterproductive is pretty massive.

I have a 6yo son who’s learning to read, and guess what type of books they are using? Books with big pictures that provide context for the couple of words at the bottom. So the point seems to be that such approaches are not inherently wrong, but they do not – by themselves – provide the necessary building blocks.

Teaching reading

And now we are onto a government report from 2005. Going a bit beyond what is asked, I think. Looking at “contemporary understandings of effective teaching practices”.

Suggests two broad approaches.

  1. Whole language.
    So this seems to be the approach criticised by the previous interviewee. It’s the constructivist approach. Ahh, they even have references for the inappropriateness of constructivism as an operational theory of teaching: Ellis (2005); Purdie & Ellis (2005); Wilson (2005). Argument is that this approach is not useful for students with learning difficulties or from low SOE.
  2. Code-based.
    Focuses on explicit teaching of the structure and function of language. The aim being to provide students with the ability to “reflect on and consciously manipulate the language”

Oh, more bashing of constructivism

Sasson (2001) refers to constructivism as ’… a mixture of Piagetian stage theory with postmodernist ideology’ (p. 189) that is devoid of evidence-based justification for its adoption as an effective method of teaching

and Wilson (2005)

We largely ignore generations of professional experience and knowledge in favour of a slick postmodern theoretical approach, most often characterised by the misuse of the notion of constructivism.

I do wonder why these alternative perspectives on constructivism were not given in the ICTs course when constructivism was introduced. Would have been a more balanced view-point.

And now into the reports comments

These observations by Wilson are consistent with expressed concerns that too many faculties and schools of education in Australian higher education institutions currently providing pre-service teacher education base their programs on constructivist views of teaching.

:)

And this comment on the social background issue

fi ndings from a large body of evidence-based research consistently indicate that quality teaching has significant positive effects on students’ achievement progress regardless of their backgrounds.

Engaging with recommendations

We’re being asked to participate in a group discussion about one of the recommendations from this report. The trouble is that the recommendation #2 that I see in the report, is not the one we’re meant to talk about.

Defining New Literacies in Curricular Practice

Another reading

Semali, L.M. (2001). Defining new literacies in curricular practice.

New literacies are defined as those “that have emerged in the post-typographic era”. Implications being

“post-typographic” points to the fact that electronic texts are destabilizing previously held conceptions of literacy and are requiring students and teachers to examine assumptions about reading, writing, books, and what we know — and think we know — about curriculum practice.

Some reflection to do, but laptop power is an issue. Time to go home.

Is high school the next challenge for CS

I’m biased, for other reasons I’m in the process of becoming a high school teacher of information technology/maths. That said, it’s given me the opportunity to think about a problem from a previous live as a University academic in information systems/information technology.

That problem was that, apart from a small period of time around the dot-com boom, the type of students enrolling in these courses was very limited, primarily nerds. This wasn’t a problem because of the students, some very fine people within that group. It’s a problem for Uni IT/IS courses because this group represents only a very small percentage of the population and when enrolment numbers are tanking you worry about this.

The continual response from the University I worked at was to change the program, to make it more attractive. They never seemed to get the fact that by the end of high school, the majority of students have already made their up their mind about IT/IS because of their experiences. And they sure as hell aren’t signing up to do that for the rest of their life.

Which brings us to this quote from an article explaining how on University CS instructor has made his course more interesting by allowing students to work on something meaningful to them. And the quote from someone in the NSF saying that they have the high school CS course to get kids interested, but can’t get it in schools.

This seems to be shaping as the challenge for me in coming years, how to get a program like this into a high school and observe what it does.

Amplify’d from www.washingtonpost.com
“We’ll have no problem interesting kids in doing these things,” Cuny said. “The tough part is getting into the schools.”

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com