The Creative Teacher Project

An NQT Bringing Creativity to the Classroom

Programming: Woah Nelly

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So. Today we were introduced to programming a term of drama classes. I’d discussed programming in another of my uni classes, but we hadn’t gone into too much detail. In view of this, and of the fact that I feel overwhelmed choosing content for one lesson, the thought of choosing a whole term’s lessons was (is?)really daunting.

My drama tutor, C, is the loveliest woman I have ever had the privilege of working with, and she just has that air of calm competence, that I hope comes to me over time. She knows exactly what she’s talking about, and her lesson made me think of three key things to keep in mind when programming. So here goes:

  • Don’t forget the Sports Carnival – for Pete’s sake, do not forget the bloomin’ sports carnival. Same goes for swimming carnivals, excursions, rally days, and oh yeah, the three bank holidays that fall in term three. Get a wall planner and circle those babies in red marker. Know how much real teaching time you have to play with. There’s nothing worse (I’m told) then planning an assessment, only to be told the week before by a precocious student that no one will be at school that day.
  • Know what and when you’re assessing – Whilst you might not immediately know the ins and outs of the assessments you have planned, it’s likely that you will have at least one performance assessment each term. Don’t put this in the last week of term, because you know (you just know, okay?) that those students who struggle with getting their assessments in on time won’t be there for the last week. One, or maybe even two weeks before is a good time to assess, especially if you have reports to complete. Throw in a couple of lesson reflections as well. Students hate doing journals (I speak from experience), and in lower class you can get away with only a couple of formal reflections each term. Lastly, if you’re able to, speak to other learning areas to see when their big assessments are scheduled. You will be really helping your students if you avoid piling them high with assessments at the exact same time that Maths and English are.
  • Refer back to your Scope and Sequence documents – this may be very new to some, and I believe these documents are coming in with the new changes to the curriculum in 2015. These scope and sequence documents take the topics from the outline, and give brief but effective examples of what sort of activity you can do, to ensure you’re meeting the required content. You can take a look at the ACARA review of the Australian Curriculum here. These scope and sequence documents gave me more ‘aha!’ moments, and took away some of that anxiety about “I know what I need to teach, but what do I actually do in class to teach them!” They were a nice little springboard for me to focus my research on the content areas.

Also, I was given a hot tip: bribe your students with the promise of a mini class party on the last lesson of term. That way they’ll make sure they’re there. No one wants to miss out on free cakes, and as C said, we can dose them up on chips and coke and send them off to Maths high as kites. Thus ensuring our long-lasting popularity with certain other staff members. (This is a joke PS. I don’t really recommend you do that).

So all in all, I think it was a really useful lesson. Obviously there is a mountain of things I still don’t know about programming, and things I will never learn without repeatedly doing it and getting it wrong! But I found the class so helpful, and that panic about actually being responsible for students’ learning was quelled, just a little.

I’d love to hear about anyone else’s experience of programming – especially for the first time!

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