Computer Science Teachers’ Association of Ireland

Ríomheol Oidí na hÉireann

Computer Science Teachers’ Association of Ireland

Stephen Murphy

The Computer Science Teachers’ Association of Ireland (CSTAI) was founded in November 2017. To date, we have over 420 members and 36 of the 40 Leaving Certificate Computer Science pilot schools have joined.

The CSTAI offers a free collection of resources for Computer Science, Coding, Digital Media, Computing and IT/ICT on a Google Drive where the members can access, download and modify for their classes needs. Examples of such resources are PowerPoints, Notes, worksheets and videos.

These resources cover from the early primary level to Junior Certificate (GCSE-equivalent) Coding/ Digital Media to Leaving Certificate (A-Level equivalent) Computer Science.

The Junior Certificate coding short course aims to develop the student’s ability to formulate problems logically; to design, write and test code through the development of programs, apps, games, animations or websites; and, through their chosen learning activities, to learn about computer science [1].

There are 3 strands to the Junior Certificate Coding:

Strand 1: Computer science introduction.

Students explore the range of uses computers have in today’s world and learn to understand the hardware and basic software which operates them. This includes learning to write, test and evaluate code [1].

Strand 2: Let’s get connected.

This strand deepens the student’s understanding of the computer as a communications tool through the storage and manipulation of data. Students also have the opportunity to identify, research, present and receive feedback on a topic or challenge in computer science that inspires them [1].

Strand 3: Coding at the next level.

In this strand, students are introduced to more complex levels of coding where they can demonstrate their understanding through documentation, discussion and feedback [1].

An example worksheet for Junior Certificate Coding is an exercise that has the student enter the appropriate code to complete a number of different Python loops. The worksheet is divided into 4 sections. Section 1.1 helps students understand the syntax behind a for-loop. Section 1.2 focuses on students working backwards from output to input. Section 1.3 allows students to practice de-bugging their code to become more resilient when fixing their code. Section 1.4 has more advanced problems for higher-order thinking.

Other examples of topics include a computer science theory section, HTML/ CSS/JavaScript sections and embedded systems.

For the primary level, there are coding examples using mainly Scratch examples that have students create their own animations. There are blocks of Scratch lessons available to our members for continuity.

The Junior Certificate Short Course in Digital Media literacy aims to extend and refine students’ ability to use digital technology, communication tools, and the internet creatively, critically and safely, in support of their development, learning and capacity to participate effectively in social and community life [2].

There are four strands to this short course:

Strand 1: My digital world.

In this strand, students explore how and why to use digital technologies; investigate the ethical and legal issues around downloading media from the internet and develop an understanding of online safety for themselves and others [2].

Strand 2: Following my interests online.

In this strand, students will explore how digital texts are published and their various purposes; they will compare how similar information is presented in different formats and explore how to represent information using digital imagery [2].

Strand 3: Checking the facts.

In this strand, students will investigate how the choice of digital media influences and impacts on consumer patterns and explore the notion of bias and influence online [2].

Strand 4: Publishing myself.

In this strand, students investigate online rights and risks, demonstrate good standards and protocols for online sharing of information and learn to cite and reference accurately when using online sources [2].

An example project for Junior Certificate Digital Media Literacy is a web quest. Students will research, create and publish a website about a topic without the need to code a website. This project is very flexible and allows multiple learning outcomes to be completed. A guide to a web quest is shown below.

The Leaving Certificate Computer Science resources are currently being created and aligned with our specification. In order to fill the gap that currently exists, the CSTAI has made links with other Computer Science teacher organisations in England, Northern Ireland, America, Australia and New Zealand to provide resources for Irish teachers.

The CSTAI places a strong emphasis on the Irish Language and offers a set of hundreds of technical computing terminology translated into Irish.

One of the main reasons the CSTAI was established was to promote sharing of ideas and resources between teachers. The resources are free to take with no obligation to contribute but we do ask if you have something appropriate to give, you do share it with us to help the CSTAI grow.

Overall, we have collected hundreds of coding, computer science and digital media examples, exercises and presentations that are shared and organized by topic to facilitate easy access by our members.  The graphic below shows the top level organization of our collection.

If you would like to get involved in this exchange of teaching resources, please email:

president.cstai@gmail.com

You can also follow us on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/ComputerScienceTeachersAssocationIreland/

https://twitter.com/cstai_tweets

[1] Junior Certificate Short course in Coding.

[2] Junior Certificate Short Course in Digital Media Literacy

Some example materials:

Junior Certificate Digital Media DIY Webquest

CSTAI Screen grabs

Junior Certificate For loops Python

Author: SteveG

Dr. Gordon is currently the chair of the SIGHPC Education chapter and the lead for the XSEDE project education program. He is also the Senior Education Lead at the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

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