Ysgol Bryn Elian & the Local Community
What is Tech-Dojo?
Digital Literacy is almost a given in today’s society, however computing is less so. Our sector-leading Tech-Dojo sessions aim to introduce latest technology to the local community including all stakeholders. Be it current students, primary children, home educated children, parents and even other teachers as a means of CPD, we introduce them to the possibilities of computing through a range of fun activities. We use Raspberry Pi’s extensively to introduce visual & text based coding and add electronics into the mix so participants can light up bulbs and code real working circuits.
The Tech-Dojo Concept
When? - They are held on a Saturday. We have run two so far, one in September 2013 and one in February 2014. Our next one is in September 2014 but we plan to take the Tech-Dojo on the road to primary schools during the Summer term!
Who can attend? - We promote the events through local primary schools, Twitter, and the Tech-Dojo App. Children attend from schools across North Wales as well as teachers looking for CPD, we have also had members of the LEA attend to experience our success for themselves.
Why? - These sessions are ultimately aimed at raising awareness of the possibilities of using things like Raspberry Pi's, Scratch, Minecraft, and App building tools, to help children realise the possibilities of being skilled in these areas. In doing so, we begin to raise the aspirations of the young people in our community.
Tech-Dojo September 28th 2013
Flyer to promote event in the community.
Tech-Dojo February 8th 2014
Flyer to promote event in the community.
All attendees can take away the resources and continue exploring and learning at home.
Inclusive nature of the concept
Utilising innovative practice developed here at Ysgol Bryn Elian we aim to deliver first class sessions that inform and educate. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible to raise aspirations across the region, in addition to preparing schools for changes on the educational landscape through sector-leading practice.
To date we have run two highly successful Dojo's, with over 150 children from 20 schools across North Wales taking part. Fun-packed days supercharged with technology ensure all are engaged, having fun, and most of all learning! Impact is of paramount importance to us, as a result of this we seek feedback on every session, the positive comments have been staggering!
Some of the feedback we've received
"I can't believe it's free!" - Kellie Williams - Wales Primary School Teacher of the Year 2013
"Thank you so much, I really enjoyed today!" - Parent
"It was a brilliant day, I had loads of fun." - Year 4 child
"What a fantastic day, my son Mason is 9 years old and in his own words 'Best day of his life', thank you :):):)" - Parent
"How accessible the technology is. Will definitely be trying Scratch and Minecraft at home!" - Parent
"Thank you for a great day. Good to share the experience with my son" - Parent
"This was a good use of my Saturday + FUN!!!" - Year 6 child
"The teachers, helpers, and pupils were very kind, polite, and helpful" - Year 6 child
All participants are issued with a lanyard containing a QR code to access the resources used on the day at home to carry on learning.
Resources for our first Tech-Dojo were supplied to each participant on a custom USB card.
We offer prize draws at our Tech-Dojo's as a means of getting the kit back to the homes. This young man won a Raspberry Pi starter kit!
Download the Tech-Dojo App
What activities take place?
We try to be different at each event, we already have six new activities planned for the next Tech-Dojo (September 2014) where we will create an intruder alarm, use motors to create optical illusions, and create the classic wire-buzz game, all on a Pi that the children will code themselves!
Coding on a Raspberry Pi
Children and parents sit side by side, discovering, exploring, and learning together.
Working with Sonic Pi.
Experimenting with GPIO
Mum advising where the next electrical component should go.
Programming Dragon's Realm in Python.
Working on the Pi
This child was a Year 4 student who had the best day of his life! (in his own words)
Our dedicated and talented Digital Leaders are present to offer a helping hand.
Working together, these two girls had a great time coding on the Pi.
We have a green light!
Amazed and proud at what he had achieved in such a short time.
Dad offering an extra hand
Two young boys completely focused on the activity.
Dad doing some final checks
This father daughter team did extremely well discovering together.
Working with the GPIO pins can be a fiddly job.
Team share their joy!
This trio worked extremely well together, as you can see, they are pretty pleased with their achievements.
Scratch Visual Programming
We have already remixed Flappy Bird in Scratch to use at the next event!
It's all in the code!
Getting Angry Birds working perfectly.
Using blocks of code to solve the problem.
Exploring and Learning together!
Father and son take a moment to debug their code.
Coding and testing the movement
Using variables and loops, children learn how to produce a working game.
Working together and sharing the experience.
Plenty of knowledgeable leaders are on hand to assist when needed.
In using such a huge hook with children we are able to create deep learning while they seemingly 'play the game' they love.
Using games based learning to teach potentially difficult concepts increases confidence.
Mum having a go at Minecraft
Introducing games based learning to parents.
Watch and learn Dad!
Father looks on as son creates complex circuits to power doors and lighting.
Building a solution
Solutions in Minecraft take time to develop and craft, helping children become more persistent in their problem solving.
1st Time Crafter
Dad has his first taste of Minecraft, it wont be his last!
Craft at home
Copies of Minecraft given away to prizewinners for continued learning while playing at home.
Building a solution
Making a golden axe from Minecraft
Using designs to recreate images in the form of an 8 bit key ring.
A Minion getting created in the image representation activity.
Creeper Heads and TNT
Iconic images from Minecraft were very popular in this activity.
Mario lives on!
Once again, iconic retro gaming images help convey image representation to budding creators.
Minecraft Pick Axe in the making
Representing the image is a task requiring precision.
Bridging the gap!
A real mix here. Helpers, parents, children, and teachers looking for CPD, all interacting. Great to see!
Mario lives on!
Tech-Dojo in the press
Allen Heard - Founder of Ysgol Bryn Elian's Tech-Dojo
As a computer scientist, Allen is keen to use technology to provide deep learning experiences that stretch beyond the norm. Allen was the first teacher in Wales to develop a dedicated Minecraft club to teach topics such as community, respect, collaborative working, problem solving and creativity. He also developed an App (Escape from Byron Bay) to teach Interactive Fiction to KS3 students as a means of improving literacy. Attending a number of teach-meets across North Wales, Allen has shared his work on Cloud based learning, Digital Leaders, and Interactive fiction, to empower teachers across the region in the use of Web 2.0 technologies to engage with students and share his experiences.
More recently, aside from his work on Tech-Dojo sessions, Allen has developed behaviour monitoring and rewards software that is currently in use in Ysgol Bryn Elian. The impact of which has seen behavioural incidents in school reduced by 63% over an 18 month period.
Looking ahead, Allen and the Tech-Dojo team plan to take the concept on tour, delivering quality computing sessions in primary schools, they also aim to provide the vital CPD teachers will need to be ready for the new computing curriculum. They hope to lead a number of schools towards taking their first steps in getting to grips with the latest Computing Progression Pathway.