It seems I was a little ambitious with my curriculum plans last year. I had originally planned to complete five topics with each year group during the year but halfway through it soon became apparent that this was not achievable unless I sped through each topic with no time to review or consolidate information. I’ve spent some time reviewing the curriculum over the summer and have now redesigned it to fit into four topics per year group which I think will be a lot more feasible. Year 7 will still begin the year with a baseline assessment which I have now streamlined so it is predominantly self-marking using Google Forms and Flubaroo, with only a few parts such as programming and information technology to be assessed manually by the teacher; the results of this are then put into a spreadsheet which automatically generates a level using the CAS Progression Pathways framework. The topics we will now be delivering are as follows:
- 9.1 – Digital Imaging
- 9.2 – Web Development
- 9.3 – Computer Crime Lab (Still being developed)
- 9.4 – Entry Level Computing (Still being developed. Lower ability completing ‘Life on Mars’ – using Kodu to simulate a colony on Mars then creating marketing materials for tourism on the planet – half complete).
Another challenge I have been investigating is how to effectively tackle feedback and assessment. In my department students do not print their work but instead all work is uploaded to our VLE (Google Classroom). At times marking has proved a little time-consuming due to opening several files that my students have uploaded, I also found much of my comments were just marking for marking’s sake rather than being truly informative.
Over the last few months I have been part of the school’s marking and feedback working party and within this we have addressed how to give more valuable feedback and cut-down on teacher workload. In computing we rely a lot on verbal feedback within lessons. As the work is largely practical it is not useful to collect-in 30 games students have made then give written feedback on these a week or so later, students need instant feedback so they can make progress while they are working on a particular topic so verbal feedback is much better for this, as is peer feedback. As a teacher what I really need to be able to do is assess the knowledge my students have acquired at the end of a topic rather than give mundane written comments throughout. At the end of a topic it is also clearly important that students understand the progress they have made in terms of their knowledge and recognise their achievements. To make life easier for myself and my team I have introduced the following assessment aspects into our curriculum:
- Quality of work marks – in SIMS when writing reports students can be awarded 1 – 4 for quality of work, with 4 being ‘excellent’ and 1 meaning ’cause for concern’. We will be grading quality of work in the same way to ensure consistency.
- Open badges – Students awarded with a mark of 4 (excellent) for a topic and homework will be awarded with an open badge to reward them for completing work to a high standard. All students who successfully collect a badge for every topic will be entered into a prize draw at the end of the year. These are awarded through a Google Doc shared with the students within Google Classroom, as shown here:
- Virtual Workbooks – To help with assessment I’ve started to develop a virtual workbook for each topic. Students will complete this as they work through a topic meaning most of the content I need to assess is all in one file, making it quicker to mark. Luckily Google Classroom has a nice feature where I can share this document and automatically create a copy for each student. At the end of a topic there will be a multiple choice, self-marking test (made with Google Forms and Flubaroo) and within the Virtual Workbook there is a section to allow students to reflect and respond to the result of the test, giving them the opportunity to show they have improved their knowledge as well as allowing them to self-assess against the progression pathways statements. Here is an example of the Kodu Virtual Workbook so you can see how this works.
Let me know your thoughts below, or if you have any other ideas to contribute, please comment.