I just got to breeze in one door and out the other for this year’s Inspirefest in Dublin, but what I saw and heard in that very short time still has my head buzzing.

Ann O’Dea of Silicon Republic has a lot to be thanked for – she has built a beautiful showcase of women who are getting on with making the world a better place for everyone. Her thoughtful curation and graceful chairing of this event is lovely to watch.  When people argue about whether STEM should have an A in it, I say ‘yes, if A is for Ann; Ann is the original A in STEM!’

I just got there in time to hear the later morning talks – Arlene O’Neill of TCD and Lisa Looney of DCU speaking of encouraging girls into the physical sciences and engineering; Sue Black telling her story of disrupting her own life and now empowering others to do the same; Kelly Hoey outlining how every move we make is forming our own network; Anne-Marie Tomchak of Mashable and Raju Narisetti of Gizmodo (NOT a token man in any way – he’s one of the sanest voices on Twitter right now) giving us the naked truth about current media not-so-fake news affairs; and Michelle Cullen passionately calling for more gender showcasing action like the recent Women On Walls project supported by Accenture.

Emer Coleman, whose by-line on the programme said Technoethics, was the highest of highlight for me. In her brief, fast-paced transit across the stage (more of this kind of thing next year, Ann!), she delivered a searing wake up call to us all about current data management worldwide, and the need for each of us to think about where we’re allowing ourselves to be led. New word (and thought) of the moment for me – disintermediation. Ouch.

I was delighted to meet teenage students there, a group from Bridge21 with Grace Lawlor, and a group with UCD’s Aoibhinn Ní Shuilleabháin – what an experience!

All too soon it was time to grab the yummy portable lunch, and out the other door for me…sorry I had to miss so much of the awesome others I have heard and read reports about since.

Thanks, Ann and Inspirefest team.

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As part of the 2017 World Conference on Computers in Education, ICS hosted a session during which John Hegarty presented an overview of the Computer Science (CS) curriculum currently proposed by the NCCA for study at Leaving Certificate in Ireland from Sept. 2018.

John is the CESI representative on the curriculum development group, and as such he represents the views of those teachers already highly interested in, and to various degrees experienced in, CS in all levels of Irish classrooms – most of whom are part of the CESI tribe. His measured outline of the current curriculum content and assessment plans was s clear as is possible at such an early stage; CESI picked the right one to represent us!

The audience included folk with a wide variety of perspectives, and everyone there was keenly interested in John’s presentation. The question and answer session was lively, with conversations continuing out to the hallway and the courtyard for quite a while after the allotted time elapsed.

The draft document can be viewed at the NCCA website:
Curriculum_and_Assessment/Post-Primary_Education/Senior_Cycle/Consultation/LC-Computer-Science.pdf

Interested parties may add their opinions to an NCCA online survey questionnaire here:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NCCACS

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Code Week ambassadors from all over Europe had a busy day in Google, Brussels on Friday June 30th. This was our last meeting with Joanna Sterzynnska Lindberg, and we wish Joanna good luck in her new role in another part of the Commission, as we continue to work on with Annika Ostergen Pofantis of the DG Connect section.

After a packed full agenda for the day, our final afternoon activity took us across the road to Parc Léopold for a marathon work-out (!) digital treasure hunt devised by our coordinator Allesandro Bogliolo, using a mashup of the Telegram app and the Cody Roby game. Watch out for this 5th Birthday activity in October. And keep an eye on Code Week EU website.

Coolest Projects is exactly what it says – a showcase of cool projects from Coderdojos all over Ireland and all over the world. A huge volunteer force works to get it together – people who believe strongly in empowering youngsters, and celebrating their creativity. The atmosphere is full of energy, and the noise is, well, – it’s loud!

To get an idea of the age group presenting their work – I was visiting some projects when I heard a shriek, and a young girl ran past looking for her teacher and her mom, holding out her hand to show the tooth that had just fallen out. Later, when it all settled, she calmly went on stage to collect her award:

I had good fun helping Eugene McDonough, of CoderDojo Ireland and Coderdojo Limerick, as he led a short class on Scratch for beginners. I’m delighted that Eugene is now an Ireland Ambassador for Code Week EU; I won’t be the only one visible from space in the luminous orange Code Week EU tee!

One thing I loved as I wandered about was the number of students who could present their work in a confident manner, fielding questions like professionals. The students from Lacken NS at the Microsoft Minecraft booth, and the students of Confey College at the Mechatrons booth.

I couldn’t help pondering on the day…

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Confey College students present their Mechatrons machine

 

It was a treat to travel to Newcastle with CESI’s Adrienne Webb and Leanne Lynch to take part in Talk On the Tyne, and attend Tech On the Tyne in early June. Both events are organised each year by Martin Bailey of Animate to Educate. Martin is the absolute king of hospitality, and everything was organised to the nth degree. Meeting the UK teachers was great, swapping ideas and comparing notes with them. (And with the day that was in it, discussing general election outcomes and politics in general).
We had a very entertaining TeachMeet style evening on the Thursday night, in the beautiful setting of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, over looking over some of the bridges on Tyne river. Presentations on classroom practice came flying at us, with Martin’s spilt second timing keeping it flowing.
Highlight of the evening had to be watching our CESI chair, Adrienne, totally absorbed in the NowPressPlay “do what you hear” writing prompt activity while the rest of us kinked with laughter – it was easy to see how a classroom of youngsters would get absorbed in this. (If you’re wondering, they were listening to writing prompts about The Stone Age, a topic in UK primary schools. But you’d figured that out, hadn’t you?).

My three other favourites were the “DIY” ones we got to try out with the presenter…

  • Julian Woods‘s lesson on the yard game Chopsticks (spent half the night, and lots of time since, trying to get my head round that one)

  • Paul Tullock literally giving it socks – and tutu and headband – in a lively Go Noodle interlude which had us hopping and laughing together, dignity totally abandoned:

  • Chris Wilde‘s maker bag containing the fixings, sans instruction, to make a bristlebot. Cue discussion, cooperative learning, the buzz of vibro motors and the buzz of learning:

Our bristlebot at #talkonthetyne thanks to @chriswilde78 @tyncanlearning #makerbreak

A post shared by magsamond (@magsamond) on

The next day, the main event called Tech On The Tyne, was full to the brim with top-notch personal and professional development. What’s still in the ponder zone in my mind… Ken Corish‘s clear no-nonsense overview of where we should be going with policy and practice on internet safety; the fierce passion of Simon Finch; Joe Dale‘s masterclass in “keep calm and carry on teaching” while every possible tech fail happens during your allotted time; Julian Wood again, this time overtly presenting on using dance move instructions to teach about algorithms, but really it was about using your teacher superpowers to get your students to enjoy learning with you, no matter what the subject; Lee Parkinson‘s lovely finalé to the day reminding me very much of our late friend Bianca Ní Ghrógáin, in both style and substance.

One surprise of the visit was Newcastle itself. Short flight, small user friendly airport, cheap efficient public transport, city full of history, culture and a seemingly  endless supply of lovely restaurants  – definitely worth a return visit.

TalkTyneMenu

The last TeachMeet at a Scratch Conference was a cracker, curated and MC’d by the inimitable Drew Buddie in Der Waag building as part of the unconference for #Scratch2015AMD. Following on the warm reception TeachMeet got from Scratch conference goers, there will be a second TeachMeet Scratch as part of the Bordeaux unconference in July.

TeachMeetScratchBDX2017

This time the venue is as lovely – the Marché Des Douves is a converted market hall, used by the community for social and educational events.

TeachMeet is an open, free, informal and social event, organised by volunteers who wish to share ideas with each other. To get a feel for what goes on, have a look and a listen here.

If you are going to the Scratch Conference in Bordeaux this July, do not miss the TeachMeet – see you there.

 

SmileyPics

“Pimp My Badge”

TeachMeet Froebel took place last evening in the gorgeous new Education Building at Maynooth University. The best thing about TeachMeet Froebel is the two way stream between student teachers and practicing teachers – both sets learn from each other.
Great work by final year student Laura O’Donoghue and her team, they were a shining credit to Seamie O’Neill and the Froebel Dept. It was a fantastic evening of ideas, chatter, action, challenges and showcase. The energy and action is well visible in the Twitter timeline for #tmFroebel 

Details of speakers and topics is at the TeachMeet Froebel wiki pages, and the shared presentations have been made available here.

VenueBeanaTi

Great venue, great hostess with the mostess Laura

TwinklBouncers

The Twinkl Bouncers!

Playworks

Playworks living up to its name

GodotGotHere

Just some electronics to pass the time Waiting for Godot

Denis

Seesaw in stereo from Denis

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