Monkseaton Middle - Computing News



This issue of Monkseaton Middle Computing News has been timed to coincide with Safer Internet Day 2016 and to draw the attention of all of school's interested parties to the wider issues around safe and responsible use of modern communications technology.

Tuesday 9th February 2016 marks the 13th Safer Internet Day. SID is a global celebration of the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology by children and young people. Monkseaton Middle will be marking the day with a themed assembly, and through further exploration of the subject matter in Computing lessons.

Encouraging Children to Make a More Positive Contribution:

The theme of this year's SID is ‘Play your part for a better internet!'.

The history of e-safety is predominantly associated with the idea of scare-mongering. Materials shared with schools traditionally adopting a tone of authority and telling children what not to do. Lecturing has its place, perhaps, but so does positivity. It's refreshing to know that children's use of technology for positive means is being encouraged:

Here are two of the videos we'll be sharing in class and in assembly with the children in school:

KS2 video example.

KS3 video example.

Screen-time dilemmas? Losing track of children's use of 'tech'?

An ever-present problem for parents...?

Many parents find it difficult to navigate conversations about their children's use of online tools. Social apps and platforms seem to come and go with increased frequency. Phones, PCs, tablets and even games consoles now represent forums for unregulated interaction. Whilst many parents cling to the safety and familiarity of Facebook and WhatsApp, their children may have moved on to a newer, edgier medium; leaving many of us oldies floundering.

It's difficult to keep up…and it's much easier to resign yourself to the fact that you'll never again be 'current'.

The essential issue for parents though, is not whether they have/use/understand the latest apps, but whether they're able to have conversations with their children about the underlying principles involved in the use of any online activity. In short, the same principles apply, no matter what the app.

(These are paraphrased from an article in The Huffington Post):

· The importance of passwords and keeping them safe and discrete.

· Thinking carefully about posting jokes online - their suitability and the sensitivity of certain issues.

· The pros and cons of tagging people in conversations (whether they want you to or not).

· The importance of being the same person online as you are in face-to-face contact.

· Misuse of media tools as a weapon, or as a way of hiding behind a false identity.

· The need to try to resolve differences in real life, rather than online.

· Ways in which the written word can be misinterpreted easily whereas the spoken word seldom is.

· The maturity needed to decide who to accept as friends and who to decline.

· The permanent nature of the internet – the idea of the irreversibility of one’s actions and the concept of ‘the digital footprint’.

The full article can be found here.

Safer Internet Centre (SIC) Resources

The resources at SIC cover all educational age phases but there are also links aimed directly at parents

Missed the last Issue of Monkseaton Middle - Computing News?

Our Autumn Term issue (published back in October) was packed with news about what we're up to in the MMS Computing dept and news of other techy developments at the school.

If you missed it you can catch up here.

The next issue will be shared shortly before the end of the Spring Term

If you'd like the Parents' Factsheet - issued by the Safer Internet Centre - filled with information, contact details and website recommendations for those who need a starting point, you can access it here.

Hour of Code 2015

Monday, Dec. 7th 2015 at 9am to Friday, Dec. 11th 2015 at 3:30pm

Monkseaton Middle School, Whitley Bay, United Kingdom

In the week commencing Monday 7th December, MMS will be getting involved with the Hour Of Code event. It's a growing, international movement aimed at getting children all over the world hooked on the idea of coding (or programming if you're a bit 'old-school, like me).

The lessons in school that week will all be based on the fundamental, logical processes which ensure good algorithm writing and the aim is to complete a series of 'tech-free' coding challenges without the aid of computers or tablets... more info to follow.

If you work in any environment where children could benefit from a coding event, why not check out the Hour of code website and resources?

"What can I be doing at home to make sure my child is using their time with technology in a productive way?"

That's a question we get asked a lot at parents' consultations and open evenings.

Assuming that your child already has access to the internet, the learning that's available to them shouldn't incur any further expense.

In school, we've tried to move away from costly software over the past couple of years and now make much wider use of free online resources and other innovative tools. Here is a list of free-to-use stuff which the children will be using at some point in their Computing (and other!) lessons:

Google: ...not just a search engine, but also the source of loads of great free tools. We use; Earth, Maps, Gmail, Google Drive (docs), Google Forms, Sketch-up (now independently owned but had its origins in Google), You Tube,...and the list keeps growing

Scratch: Scratch is truly fantastic. It's a free project which was released by computer programming professors at the famous M.I.T. University: A brilliant way to learn to control a character through sequences of instructions. Jig-saw style programming used to create animations and games. a whole online community of users and sharers already exist to help you and it's one of the tools we're going to be combining with our new Raspbery Pi computers. School currently has the original Scratch and is making the switch to Scratch 2.0 over the coming months.

Codecademy: Used in Year 7 and 8 in school and more often than not gives our students their first taste of real coding. There are mini projects in a variety of languages and longer assignments too. HTML, CSS and Javascript are all explored in shorter tasks but Python (the code format agreed on by the Whitley Bay Collaborative of Schools) is covered in much greater depth to prepare students for their Computing studies at high school.

Kodu: Make entire worlds and fantasy landscapes with this building-block style games creator. Children in both Key Stages learn sequencing, programming and de-bugging. It's a Microsoft product, so it's compatible with X-Box and can be programmed using the systems controller.

Mozilla: As the focus of our studies shifts towards the code behind the software, more teaching and learning of what makes web pages work will be included in lessons. Mozilla is an organisation with education at its very core. Here, they host a whole host of free tools with understanding and open access to the web as its fundamental principles:

"At Mozilla, we’re a global community of technologists, thinkers and builders working together to keep the Internet alive and accessible, so people worldwide can be informed contributors and creators of the Web." If you're bored with Power Point, try Prezi. Children can register for a free account using their school email address. Beautiful presentations happen in a few moments once children have mastered the rudimentary skills.

Smore: Free, beautiful, on-line flyers (like this one!)

There are loads more tools that we're currently looking at and there are more being released to the masses every day. The current trend for digital discovery looks set to continue for a prolonged spell - and we'll be keeping you up to date with all that geekery via newsletters like this and, of course, via your children.