Archive for September, 2010

Primary Lessons

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Today I visited my children’s school to talk to P4 about my job. The class are doing a project on employment, and a number of parents have been invited in to talk about their jobs and demonstrate what they do.

First I was interviewed by the pupils who had a set of prepared questions. They used a ‘spider chart’ to record the answers, and told me they’d also used a questionnaire with another visitor. They have been learning different ways to record information.

After the set questions each group was instructed to make up some questions of their own. The ‘Pen’ group made up 4 questions, the ‘Pencils’ 3 and the ‘Quills’ 2. I then answered another series of questions which ranged from ‘How much do you get paid?’ to ‘Do you like your job?’.

After the interrogation I used PowerPoint to discuss my job. I asked the pupils if they knew where my college was and what courses they thought were available. They guessed correctly that we did beauty therapy courses and engineering, but were disappointed to learn that we didn’t offer courses in race driving or football.

I also took in a number of examples of student work, a video, a computer game, a 3D animation and a cartoon. The children were very excited by this, and were especially keen to know that we did courses in computer games.

By the time we finished it was almost bell-time, and the afternoon seemed to have flown passed. I left the teacher with some worksheets for the pupils so that they could do a follow up lesson sometime in the future. The worksheet had an art quiz (with hints) on one side and a foldable model of a parrot to colour and make.

During my time at the school I saw a number of examples of how the teacher controls such a large class and gets their attention. The teacher used first names a lot to grab the attention of individuals, and to engage the group the teacher performed various actions with her hands that the kids had to copy. This quickly focussed the kids and quietened them down. The teacher also asked the kids to pose in a particular way if they had a question for me – changing the pose after a few questions to keep then on their toes. I quickly got the hang of this and started doing the poses too, to encourage the kids.

I’m going to add this to my CPD log as I learned a lot from working with the class. The teacher did ask me if I’d consider a career change, but I still feel I’m more comfortable working with adults rather than kids. However I really enjoyed the experience and think the kids gained something from it too.

Categories: CPD, teaching

Photography Assignment – Royal Mile

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

This semester the HNC Computer Arts & Digital Design students have been given an assignment to create a video based in the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Combined with this, the students are also undertaking a photography assignment in the same location.

The Royal Mile is a very historic street, running from Edinburgh Castle in the West to Holyrood Palace in the East. It is home to a variety of different architecture, has associations with many famous historical figures and is also a popular tourist area. The street has great potential for photography assignments, so the students have been given a number of different assignments to choose from – historic, tourism, people, abstract, etc.

Next week we will be taking a minibus to Edinburgh, so the students’ first task was to research the area and make a plan for their photography assignment, taking into account that we’ll only be visiting for around 1.5 to 2 hours.

The students were given time in class to undertake some of their research and it was interesting to see the different tools and approaches they took. Some used Google Image Search or Flickr to find photographs to inspire them, others visited tourist attraction websites or used Google Maps to plan their visit. Some also used Google Street View to  work out the best viewpoints for their planned photographs. A few students also visited sites on Edinburgh’s history and are planning to investigate the mysterious characters of Edinburgh’s past and some of the spooky ‘haunted’ locations in the area.

Here are some of the interesting websites we’ve found: – scroll to the bottom to find an interactive map.

Deacon Brodie – A historic Edinburgh character who inspired the story Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde.

Scottish Parliament Architecture – video of Niall Hendrie (lecturer at Carnegie College) talking about his project photographing the building.

The Meet in the Sandwich

September 23, 2010 1 comment

Had a good time yesterday at the Scottish Learning Festival and Teachmeet in Glasgow. As always, SLF had much more content aimed at primary and secondary education than FE/HE, however looking around the tradestands did provide me with a number of ideas for classroom practice. In particular I saw some good examples of artwork for diversity, citizenship and other Curriculum for Excellence areas.

I also attended one seminar on Designing Our Learning Future which was lead by HMIe. It was an interesting discussion about how we could take innovative, creative and radical classroom practice and then make it mainstream, however the presenters used my least favourite method of data gathering – the sticky note. Never mind, maybe they’ll eat their own dogmeat someday and try some innovative, creative and radical practice at some point in the future.

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Later, across the road at the Clyde Auditorium (Armadillo) lots of innovative, creative and radical classroom practice was on display at this year’s Teachmeet. Superbly organised by David Noble and his team of volunteers, over 100 educators and interested parties saw short Pecha Kucha style presentations from a number of educators on their education practice, ranging from using GPS treasure hunts to zombie walks for charity. There was also a series of roundtables on a variety of ICT topics to choose from.

For me the fringe event that is Teachmeet is the real meat in the sandwich of SLF. Change doesn’t come from the policy makers, from the education quangos, from vendors or from education managers – change comes from individuals, and from individuals selflessly sharing their ideas with others through events like this.

Look out for a Teachmeet near you and get along and participate, and take a friend.

Here’s an audio recording of my presentation, Thanks to @johnjohnston. Here’s a link to the video we made of the charity zombie walk.

Categories: CPD, teaching

Scottish Learning Festival & Teachmeet 2010

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s the Scottish Learning Festival this week, but probably more exciting is Teachmeet SLF2010 #TMSLF2010.

My name is on the list for presenting and also leading a round table workshop – so this should keep me busy. I’m hoping to present about doing Charity Events for Teamworking and Citizenship, and also to lead a roundtable about preparing for the new NPA Computer Games qualification.

If you don’t know what Teachmeet is, then check this clip…

Categories: Uncategorized

Gaming Assessments

September 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Development of the Assessment Support Packs (ASP) for the NPA Computer Games got underway this weekend with a meeting of the development team at SQA in Glasgow.

This development marks a new approach to assessment writing in that each ASP will cover the units at three different levels, i.e. SCQF levels 4,5 and 6. Also, the assessments will be integrated, as assessments for the Design, Media Assets and Development units will follow the process of designing and creating a single game. This will be the first time that an integrated approach has been used in a set of ASPs. This will prove a bit of a challenge for the development team as there are no previous examples to refer to and no standardised templates for creating this type of assessment. Hopefully this will be a successful development and pave the way for more integrated assessments from SQA.

It’s an exciting development and I’m looking forward to the challenge, and also to seeing how the uptake of the new qualifications goes over the forthcoming year.

Read a related article on games qualifications in the Times Education Supplement.

Categories: Game Design

Art & Design update

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about trying different ways to make a unit named Art & Design Context a little more interesting for students. Since then I’ve included some practical activities into the class,  and the students have been making artwork with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator in a particular art style.

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So far we’ve made an Art Nouveau/Art Deco style portrait and also some Pop Art style images. In future classes we may also look at Op Art and maybe an older art movement such as Impressionism or Constructivism.

Also, students have become teachers and are currently researching art movements of the late 20th century, which they will present to the rest of the class in a few weeks time.

Once we’ve covered art movements we’ll be looking at the influences on design during the 20th century, from the Russian Revolution, the Futurist movements, Bauhaus, through World War II and into the post war  consumer boom and eventually the influence of computers and digital technology.

I also recently found some great resources on some of Adobe’s websites including:

  1. a pdf document on Art Deco
  2. a Surrealist/Dali Project on Adobe Education Exchange (login required).
  3. Videos on Adobe TV about creating Impressionist art with Photoshop

Remote mentoring with Acrobat Connect

September 11, 2010 Leave a comment

This year I am mentoring one of our BSc (Hons) students who is working on a project to create a social media aggregator application using HTML5 and CSS3.

We’re scheduled to have a one hour mentoring session each week, however we’ve decided to do a substantial part of this via web conference rather than face to face. This allows each of us to be located anywhere with an Internet connection, and also allows us to use a variety of collaborative tools, as well as to record the session for future reference.

The tool we’re using is Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro, which I’ve been using for a number of years for accessing webinars and working remotely with fellow educators. It provides a range of collaborative tools as well as webcam and audio-chat features. A version of the system, called Acrobat ConnectNow is also available for free with an account.

Categories: teaching