Lessons & Units

Parent Tech Briefing – Session 6

PlatoThe final session in this course! So far we have looked at what technology is, desktop basics, search and problem solving, graphic design, website design and coding. Although a real whistle-stop tour, the aim has not to go into great depth, but rather than get …

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Parent Tech Briefing – Session 5

scratchToday we are looking at programming (aka coding), which is becoming a major educational focus for governments, schools, companies and parents alike. In this session we will consider what programming is and how we can approach learning it. Most of the session will be hands …

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Parent Tech Briefing – Session 4

ParkourTonight we started off by talking about a couple of books of interest:

  • For The Win by Corey Doctorow – young adult fiction, set in the near future, investigating themes of power, politics, economics and poverty through the lens of gaming. Intensely absorbing, packing with


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Parent Tech Briefing – Session 3

Seth GodinLast week we worked through a Digital Scavenger Hunt exercise, which tested our problem solving, search and teamwork skills.

Today we are moving onto graphic design, and will use the following resources to look at the nature of creativity, and build something fun and …

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Parent Tech Briefing – Session 1

MonkeyWorking in collaboration with First Code Academy, I have been working to design and deliver a series of tech-focused workshops for parents. Dubbed the Parent Tech Briefing, these sessions are aimed to help parents understand the meaning of technology, become more fluent computer users …

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Strimming With Students

StrimmerStrimming, weed whacking, weed eating, call it what you like, it’s a crazy process. Take a piece of nylon string, use a 2-stroke petrol engine to spin it around real fast, and then use that force to hack away at vegetation. As part of my …

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Epic Wallpers

In Year 7, my students undertake a short unit of work called Epic Wallpaper, in which they attempt to make a glossy wallpaper using Acorn and some graphic design techniques. This is the first year I have run this unit, and it went very …

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Wiring A Plug

British PlugLooking back on my own time in secondary school I remember, in terms of useful practical outcomes, precisely one lesson. Of course there are many more which influenced and shaped me, but only one that I regularly and knowingly draw on. It was Year 9 …

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Half Old Portrait

HalfOldThis morning I was approached by a teacher (Megan from HLY) whose students have been asked to draw split portraits of themselves, half their current age, and half when they are older. Megan asked if we could use some software to age the students, and …

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Gadget Shop

Fed up of students wanting only the latest, trendiest gadget (usually from Apple at our school), I created this lesson to get students to more rationally and thoroughly assess a range of gadgets. One of the intended outcomes is to encourage students to consider devices at different price points, with the aim of seeing what represents good value, where cut corners effect the whole experience, and what features are just marketing fluff.

Gadget Shop SpreadsheetGadget Shop Spreadsheet (XLSX)

Students could undertake this task individually, or in small groups, but my preference is to have them do it as a whole class, with the hope of promoting more discussion and passion about what is valuable, and what is not. The following instructions, included in the spreadsheet, should guide students in completing the spreadsheet:

  1. Decide on the 10 criteria you wish to judge each device on, or use the ones included. The criteria must be the same for all devices. An example would be "Screen Size".
  2. Assign each criteria a weight according to it's importance. Total weight must be equal to 100.
  3. Choose 9 devices (3 laptops, 3 tablets, 3 phones) and enter their names into the column headers (e.g. Laptop 1 name goes into "L1 Name")
  4. Research the nine devices online, and enter details of the specs for each criteria under the "Detail" column for that device.
  5. Assign a "Score" for each criteria (from 0 up to 10), based on the information entered into the "Detail" column.
  6. Once the table is complete, the highest score total for each product type should be the best product.

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