Ysgol Bryn Elian & the Local Community

Tech-Dojo 2.0
Tech Dojo 3

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

Where? - Ysgol Bryn Elian - Colwyn Bay.

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 - Ysgol Bryn Elian in the Community

Inclusive nature of the concept

We pride ourselves on having staff with the expertise, motivation, and enthusiasm in the field of computing to be able to make a difference to the community through our inclusive attitude towards engaging with them. Whether it be transition children or otherwise. For us, it's all about getting technology in children's hands and getting them to realise their potential. We also aim to facilitate sessions to include home educated children in the community.

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

"Mind-blown" - Year 5 child

"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

Download the Tech-Dojo App

Either scan the QR code or click this link to download the Tech-Dojo App on a mobile device. We use this in the run up to the event to promote it to as many people as possible, again through our inclusive nature we try to advertise it through as many mediums as possible.
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What activities take place?

Raspberry Pi

We introduce the credit-card sized computer and highlight the endless possibilities and fun you can have with one of these devices. The session includes projects using electronics to wire up and code working circuits to light LED's. Coding in Python, participants extend their first project by introducing buttons into the circuits. We also use Sonic Pi to show how you can code music on the Raspberry Pi.

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!

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Scratch Visual Programming

In the visual programming environment Scratch, we aim to show children how popular games come to be made. The game we have used recently is the mobile device classic, Angry Birds. Children learn about loops and variables while they create the game along with movement and win/lose conditions.

We have already remixed Flappy Bird in Scratch to use at the next event!

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The global phenomenon that has reached almost 14 million sales is clearly something children can relate to. Ysgol Bryn Elian invested in Minecraft EDU to bring the popularity of the game to the classroom. In our Tech-Dojo sessions we set a series of increasingly difficult challenges that require children to create complex working circuits using logic gates to fulfil the needs of the challenge. This is unsurprisingly one of the more popular activities we offer.

In using such a huge hook with children we are able to create deep learning while they seemingly 'play the game' they love.

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Image Representation

We use popular icons and symbols that children are already familiar with in an innovative way to deliver a session on image representation. Children are introduced to the notion of pixels (picture elements) and as a result, they make their own 8 bit key ring using beads.
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Building Apps

Using Appshed, participants are introduced to the creation of apps for mobile devices. We show them how to make an app within 1 hour that can then be transferred to their phones immediately. During this session, pupils are linking resources and content to produce a fully functioning app. The skills they learn here can be seen long after in a range of apps that we have seen them create since. Parents have also found this session extremely rewarding as this is something they too like to learn how to do.
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Tech-Dojo in the press

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Allen Heard - Founder of Ysgol Bryn Elian's Tech-Dojo

Allen Heard is the Head of ICT, Computing, and Business at Ysgol Bryn Elian. An innovative forward thinker who has successfully developed a range of unique resources to improve teaching, learning, and behaviour. Allen works closely with other IT teachers and the IT Manager to organise these events.

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.