Tag Archives: #CompEdUK

Computational Thinking for Educators

I was asked for our school’s latest INSET day to devise a half-hour session which I would repeat during the day for all teaching staff on the fairly loose topic of sharing good practice / sharing our classroom activities.

Now I was fairly sure that 30 minutes was not going to be long enough for me to introduce much interesting in the way of Computer Science or code for a group of teachers who had never experienced it before, so I began to think about what I could deliver.

My thoughts turned to some of the Computational Thinking lessons we do with our students as they are accessible and don’t require the use of a computer. The fact that I was going to deliver a session on sharing good practice from my teaching and that it would not involve any tech other than a projector and presentation, would no doubt come as a shock to some of my colleagues!
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The Pi, The Parliament and The Palace

Over the past couple of months I have been lucky enough to be invited by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to attend two of their events in London.

The first of these events took place on September 8th, on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament, to celebrate the sale of 10 million Raspberry Pi computers. The event was attending by a wide cross-section of the Raspberry Pi community and afforded me the opportunity to meet with many people who I had, until then, only had had the pleasure of working with on-line. This opportunity also introduced me to a wide range of other partners and people involved in the development and engineering of Britain’s best-selling computer to date.

The second event I was invited to attend was held on the 5th October;  a reception at St James’s Palace hosted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s patron, the Duke of York. This event was a celebration of, and a “thank you” to, the many different people and organisations who support and make up the Raspberry Pi community. Again, this event gave me the opportunity to meet up again with many familiar faces and get to know a few new faces, too!

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Extract RGB Values from an Image

Our Head of Physics today asked me if there was any code we could use that would demonstrate to his A-Level Physics students the way that digital images are represented by red, green and blue pixels with a value between 0 and 255. The reason is because of the introduction of a digital imaging unit within the new A-Level specification, and whilst this could be taught as pure theory he felt a working example to illustrate the point might help.

This got me thinking and after a bit of searching I found a Stack Overflow post which gave an example of retrieving a single pixel’s RGB value and printing it out.

This example makes use of the PIL python library, which unfortunately has not been updated for Python 3. However we can make use of the Pillow library in Python 3 to achieve the same thing!

The image I have used in the code is this one:landscape

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Embed a Twitter Feed into Moodle

In a recent #NT2tEU Twitter chat someone posed the question about how you link Twitter and Moodle together. There were suggestions about using your Twitter account to post messages about upcoming events and assignments in Moodle, linking back to them with the URL.

The way I tend to use Twitter and Moodle together is the other way round. I let Moodle take care of sending out the emails it needs for notifications, and I use Twitter as a way of pulling interesting feeds of information back into my Moodle courses.

To do this we are going to set up a Twitter Widget and then embed this code into a HTML block on our Moodle course page

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#Picademy – Day One

This February I was one of the lucky few to be accepted on the Picademy event at Google’s Digital Garage in Manchester. More details about the event can be found here: https://www.raspberrypi.org/picademy/google/manchester/

This post is a summary of my thoughts after day one – more as a memorandum for me than anything else. Apologies if I have forgotten any of the sessions or put them in the wrong order; to coin a phrase used in the training, I reached “cognitive overload” fairly quickly!

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Christmas Sonic Pi

This week my Year 8 class asked if they could do something festive with me for their last lesson before we break up next week. Now I am not a believer in stopping work just because it is the last week of term, but I thought I could probably give them a Computer Science lesson and easily add a Christmas theme to get the best of both worlds. I gave them the choice of either using Python Turtle art to create festive pictures, or use Sonic Pi to “code” some Christmas music.

The class went for Sonic Pi; so I thought I would share my lesson plan here.

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Hello Minecraft World!

Minecraft screen shots with your Raspberry Pi

We are just about to begin teaching our Python and Minecraft unit at school so I began testing everything out on our latest Raspberry Pi image to make sure we were ready for the lessons and adjust any of the lesson plans if necessary.

Our latest Raspberry Pi image runs Jessie. Now one of the improvements Jessie brings us is that the Print Screen button on your keyboard has been set up to run Scrot in the background to save a png screen shot into your home directory. You can read more about it here.

Now that is great as for quite some time taking a screen shot on your Raspberry Pi involved installing Scrot and then running it from the terminal; not the most user-friendly way to get students to take screen shots!

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Updating our Raspberry Pi Image

We have just purchased a set of Raspberry Pi 2 boards to upgrade our Raspberry Pi B+ / HDMIPI set-up which we have been using for Computer Science this year. I will not go into the reasons why or the specifications of the Raspberry Pi 2; but needless to say the performance increase seen will make teaching with these devices much easier!

So we received our new Pi 2 boards and got straight into removing the old B+ boards from our HDMIPI set-up and installing the new Pi 2 boards. Pretty soon I ran into an issue though; having replaced the Pi board and using one of our SD Cards with our current image installed on it, the system would not boot; it just sat there at the rainbow boot screen. It turns out that the Pi 2 has an updated ARM processor and therefore needs the latest updates installing for the Pi to boot.  Now I could have just downloaded the latest Rasbian image and been up and running, but we have quite a few customisations to our image which I wanted to keep

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