We’ve just recently brought Computer Science GCSE into the curriculum and today we’re going to be revising one of the chunkier topics we’ve looked at, which is around the CPU and systems architecture so we’re going to be looking a little bit at the terminology, some of the perhaps more challenging concepts around that topic area, and I’m going to use Nearpod to help the students assess what they’re do and don’t know. ‘So Nearpod, the code is on the board: CPU revision please, let’s go. No, you just want as simple as you can to annotate it…’ I have been using Socrative quite a lot.
I like that in terms of it’s easy to set-up and I think it’s an effective assessment tool but clearly you’re restricted in the types of question you can put in so I was keen to explore perhaps different questioning styles that would help the students assess their learning but also, particularly in Computer Science diagrams comes into it quite a little bit so I was looking for something that perhaps was richer in terms of functionality that I would have access to in terms of setting materials to assess them with and for them to assess themselves.
[classroom conversations] Last year I undertook the British Computer Society Certificate of Teaching Computer Science at secondary level and as part of that, you have to write up, you have to investigate and write up a report on a pedagogical investigation. So for that I did research how I could really develop the students’ metacognitive abilities in computer science and as a consequence of that, I then looked at the tools and then selected Nearpod to focus on.
I do think computer science has a perception as a hard subject so I was really trying to hone in on what aspects of metacognition could I try and bring more into my teacher in my classroom and really help the students get to grips of computer science. ‘Right, next one, fill in the blanks. I will, it is easy, I will give the bonus point to somebody who spots the obvious mistake in it.’
I looked at the Education Foundation’s research and I selected several aspects of metacognitive abilities so specifically getting the students to more accurately assess what they do or don’t know and where they need to channel their energies, skills of reflection and my own modelling, my own thinking particularly when it comes to coding and algorithms. So through research I decided to hone in on those aspects. ‘When the CPU goes off to fetch an instruction..’ I think particularly with the interaction of Nearpod, that was very effective in terms of helping the students per topic, to give them more confidence about actually how far they had come in terms of what they do know.
I can get a holistic view of how everybody’s answered and I can choose to share there and then a student’s answer, either anonymously or not for different purposes, either to illustrate perfect answer or this is good so far what else are you missing? Secondly, they’ve got a record afterwards as well. It’s quite easy for them to access their material online and also redo the same questions further down the line very easily. [classroom conversations]
‘Okay, I don’t think that’s working particularly well so let’s just go on to, I want you to answer honestly…’ Sometimes things do go wrong. I’m also quite upfront with the students, ‘this is new we might have to figure out between us as we go along.’ It’s practice as well. There’s always with different tools, different features that you realise are perhaps best utilised or best not utilised and again, I think that’s just through experience and practice, you learn what works well for perhaps different sized cohorts or different topics as well. Nearpod describes itself as an interactive assessment and I really like that aspect of it.
I think that’s really empowering just so that at the touch of a button I can distribute that answer or that diagram to every student in the class and we can critique it for whatever reason. It’s early days but through using revision wrappers, getting them to think about what resources were useful to them, how they answered questions, where they lost marks; the next time around for a set of exams we’ll be able to pull out that and have another look at that.
So the way I approach it is I take one topic, think about what’s, perhaps what’s challenging around it, what’s the key terminology and design a set of activities using Nearpod that we can then do in the classroom, particularly focusing on those aspects that I’ve identified that might be challenging for that topic. I think open-ended questions, particularly if you’ve got the sorts of questions that come up on exams that perhaps are a bit more subtle, they’re quite good to get the classroom discussion going. Okay, multiple-choice quizzes, always a good thing for terminology. Are you really crystal clear on this?
The students enjoy it and for me I’ll get instant visibility on the whole class and how well or how less well or less sure they are of a topic. It’s also the reuse factor. It’s there, I can share it with colleagues or I can do it quite easily again in a few weeks’ time at the touch of a button. It’s a great way to share ideas, resources as well and to galvanize you into action