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I am an educator living in Tasmania Australia. Currently a relief teacher trying to create and personalise my learning journey.

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Simon Youd

Simon Youd

Code Combat, reflecting on using

4 min read

http://codecombat.com/

 

Using CodeCombat in the class

Codecombat is a game that helps to introduce some of the concepts in computer science and the coding languages of javascript or python. You learn about syntax, loops, if this then that sequences, and computational thinking.  Using a game to learn brings gamification to life it also sparks interest working with students that at times have lower literacy levels, lower interest levels (in starting to code or working with computers), they can play a game and learn

I played through the game myself, completing the first 18 parts of section 1 so far. I really enjoyed the game and as I advanced through further levels became faster at recognising what need to be written and any shortcuts that could be used to write faster or less. I had fun this was not traditional learning it was playing a game to learn how to do computer coding. Computer coding is something that I've always wanted to learn but never sat down and spent the time to do, yet now through this game, personally I am learning and practicing using JavaScript as a language to start coding.

I used this as an introduction to computing and coding with students in a juvenile detention centre. Not everyone wanted to play, but those that did really got into and often didn’t want the lesson to end or leave, this never happens normally. Some wanted to play every lesson I taught them, from the start of the lesson, till after time was up, no loss of desire to learn and participate. This was not everyone, but definitely some.

Limitations in setting used

I had some issues with students not allowed to have access to email or chat facilities. The log on required an email address, I made email accounts and used passwords for the sign in that were different to email account logins. I had control of these and this was the only way I could progress with using this in the class. There was some risk in trying this and was definitely outside the norm for what these students would experience in a typical class at this school.

My use of CodeCombat

This is the final level for the first section. You not only need to move your character but you also need to place blocks between you, as a fence, and the enemies that are trying to attack you. The graphics of the game are really good, you have to think through what you are going to do and each level progresses you further into skills and coding.

http://codecombat.com/  

I discovered codecombat after listening to an episode of TIDE (today in digital education) where Doug Belshaw (twitter, blog, discours.es) was using this to start coding at an after school coding club. I bookmarked the site and always thought one day I would come back to it but now I have and used it to learn for myself and in class with students. The engagement levels, of those who wanted to learn more about coding, was high. There was also a high allowance for learning with students who did not have a high literacy level.

Conclusion

I faced a fear and overcame it (previous article), making a go of something to try a new task and push myself out of that comfort zone. I learnt a new skill, used a new tool, and many students did also. I am glad I did this, more risk, bigger risks can lead to bigger rewards. Take the chance and try something new, see where it takes you.... But most importantly, share it with others.

Simon Youd

Why EdTech? Why not Ed Tools?

3 min read

The conversation often seems to have this unhealthy focus on education technology as a separate thing, something that lives in its own ecosphere. Yet if we were to talk about technology in the classroom why are writing implements not counted, or: electricity, group tables, paper, pens erasers? The focus needs to be on using the right tool for the job. If you were teaching calligraphy would you ban pens? If you were drawing would you ban pencils? Then why, is technology, the easy target to remove from learning. Most students when not in the class or after graduating from school will carry a phone in their pocket, yet most are unlikely to carry a pen or pencil in their pocket. Teaching then needs to include targeted use of this “technology” to be a productive and purposeful part of their lives. Almost all will use it outside school so why not bring it in?

 

José Picardo wrote an article about the obsession of technology in education by those teachers who wish to practice teaching and learning using modern tools. What a wild and carefree attitude for teachers to have. He points out that many technology tools currently used are in their infancy, and any “evidence of learning” is almost impossible to produce, if there is such a thing to be truly found. Those who complain about technology being used and believe it should be banned may be the ones that have more problems and a bias towards (against) technology than the teachers and educators that believe it is a valuable tool to use in the classroom.

 

Mark Weston discusses the ways that education is failing technology in his article, Shift Paradigms – Quit Failing Technology. If this article does not challenge us as educators to find ways to make great teaching and learning even greater through the proper use of technology , then nothing will. Technology has revolutionarily changed many business and habits of life previously unthought of, yet education struggles to cohesively find a way to use technology that delivers those same changes and benefits to students.

 

Use the right tool, after using the right pedagogy then plan which tool enhances learning. Technology sometimes fills that bill, but other times it does not, we should not use it just because it is there. I have made mistakes in using technology just because, and know attempt to think through what learning experiences I would like students to have and then what tool(s) would enhance that.

 

Simon Youd

I am nobody, but that doesn’t matter. Because I share.

2 min read

I am nobody, but that doesn’t matter.

 

Because I share.

 

Not always and not regularly, but I do share. I share stories I recommend on Medium, through IFTTT, as tweets. I bookmark pages on my Known site and then auto share the links through a tweet. I auto share videos I like on YouTube again through tweets. I blog, not as regularly as I should, but I try to write and share.

 

Sharing makes anything you do open and available. Wes Fryer in his article How much should teachers share online referred to a quote as follows

 

In her video, Amy cites Austin Kleon (@austinkleon), author of “Show Your Work,”who says:

“Your work doesn’t exist unless it is online.”

Does that then transfer into a quote remix of saying that: "I share therefore I am". What we share is what other people see of us, what we do, think, read and write. It does not matter who we are, what we do, or don’t do, how experienced we are or how good a teacher we view ourselves as. The fact that we share and put ourselves and our thoughts out there is ultimately what matters.

Share what you think, others can question you on it, challenge your thinking, support you, help you crystallize your focus and thought patterns moving forward. Share your work, others will take it and run with it, making their job easier, refining and tweaking what you have done for their situation, and hopefully provide feedback to help you both grow. Share your reflections and reactions to other people's work and thoughts, grow and learn together, conversation adds meaning and develops that deeper understanding. …..Hmmm….. That sounds like something that teachers should be doing.

Let’s share, learn and grow together, becoming better educators for all students we influence, not just the ones in our classroom walls.

I am a relief teacher (supply, replacement, contract) living in Tasmania, Australia. Yet through sharing, I have made connections with educators in the UK, USA, Asia, and throughout the rest of the world. Who could you connect to that might help them, help you, or help students?

 

Simon Youd

What do we Allow in our Classrooms?

3 min read

A.J. Juliani is an educational change thinker, reformer and writer that always challenges me with his writing and thinking. AJ and his partner in crime, and podcasting, John Spencer often  talked about knowledge bombs being dropped in their podcast classroom questions. In AJ’s article Creating the Conditions for Innovative Teaching and Learning he talked about the PLASMA framework for how to be innovative and intentional in education change.

 

Picture from article, link

 

Allow

   The allow is for what do we allow to happen in our classroom to promote change and innovation. The less control we try to have and maintain the further the boundaries can be pushed by those who have a variety of ideas. This is what gave me the open mouth thought, what could we allow. Then I hung my head in shame at what I thought next. Everything bad that has happened in my class and classroom is because I allowed it.

   The curriculum is only crowded if I allow it to be. Teaching to the test will only happen if I allow it. Teacher centred, compliance controlled classrooms only happen if I make it so. What have I allowed to happen in my classrooms that has deprived students of opportunities that I should have given them?

The Challenge

The challenge then is what is going to be allowed to happen in the classroom? How can innovation be driven by the teacher getting out of the way and letting students take control. We still need to guide and assist, but as mentors and coaches, not as the team captain.

 

If we don’t allow for inquiry, choice, collaboration, digital tools, failure…then usually only the people in charge are allowed to have ideas.”

The Curriculum Problem

   This is one that I have when teaching math and science. There is knowledge that you see as being necessary, although that may be challenged by many as to who relevant and necessary it is. Might this be achieved by setting some guidelines and framework for what knowledge is to be covered, but then leaving students to choose how they wish to proceed with the learning.

   One way I have seen this covered is by making the outline of what topics need to be covered in the curriculum. But then students created what was to be covered as the learning. This was done by them creating an iTunesU course and publishing the materials there as a subject plan for others to use if they so desired.

What Will I Allow?

 

   Once you find a problem or challenge, to ignore it moving forward is to willfully make bad decisions. The change I want to see in education must be the change that I allow. Less me, more students. Students actively participating in learning, in creating their path forward. Education is done to students, learning is done with them. What will you allow your students to do and achieve? Let’s not hold them back, but push them forward.

 

 

Simon Youd

Simon Youd

Simon Youd

Disconnected as a relief Teacher

2 min read

As a relief teacher coming into a class you often have a disconnect with students as they are being out off their routine of the normal teacher with you being there in the classroom. This prevents you having the relationship build up with students to engage them in class and use as a preventer at times for poor behaviour escalation.

Relationships though are not the only area where you can be disconnected as a relief teacher. The lesson that you are about to teach may hold some relevance with the normal teacher who has planned the lesson and placed it in the scheme of work they are doing. Yet walking in you have no connection to how this work fits into the overall direction for where learning is heading, or has already been. 

Teaching, when you plan and implement it, has a structure and sequence to lessons and materials. Walking in partway through for a short period of time often prevents knowing or seeing the bigger picture and purpose of how the current lesson fits in. This disconnect then means that I can be teaching material I see no reason to do so, or unable to link learning to previous or future tasks that will add relevance to the current task. How do you fix this? 

How do you fix this? I don't expect an essay on what has been covered or future plans from the classroom teacher. It just makes it harder at times not knowing the why. This is also a view many students may hold.

Simon Youd

Simon Youd

Mistakes Were Made — Medium

Teaching people to accept mistakes as part of the learning process, fail forward.