With the introduction of the Digital Technologies subject being rolled out into Queensland primary schools, I’ve kept rather busy running professional development workshops for teachers, in order to help them better understand some of the technologies that they will be teaching in classes. Most recently, I ran a couple of workshops for second year students doing their Master’s degree in Education at QUT, at the invitation of Dr. Vinesh Chandra, a senior lecturer in STEM Education.

Over the course of two workshop sessions, we looked at a few different technologies for students to use in classrooms. We introduced them to Scratch, and showed them how they could use it to make games related to certain subject areas; we looked at Makey Makey, and how it could be used in conjunction with Scratch to make fun and interesting interfaces; we also looked at Scratch Junior, the app version of Scratch that allows you to make simple games and animations.



In our first workshop, we looked at how to use Scratch to make quizzes to allow students to conduct research, and then build a quiz to test their peers on that information. More specifically, we looked at how to make a quiz game that tested children on their knowledge of capital cities — a game that would fit nicely in a Geography unit, for example.




In our second workshop, students learned about Makey Makey, a popular innovation kit that makes use of circuits and conductivity to turn that can ordinary objects into interactive ones. One of the great things about it is that it can work in conjunction with something like Scratch. By the end of the lesson, we showed students how to make a piano out of assorted available objects using Makey Makey and Scratch. One student learned how to play Mary Had a Little Lamb on a few bits of foil, a banana, a metal spoon, and a half-empty tube!




We introduced Scratch Junior to the students. Though not as powerful as its computer counterpart, it can still be used to create simple games and animations. We showed students how to create a simple animation about the water cycle. We also looked at how to build the simplest, most entertaining animation: a dance party with background music and dancing sprites.



Our work at QUT, of course, was only the beginning of our collaborative efforts with Dr. Chandra. Very soon, we will be producing and releasing a series about professional development for teachers. To make sure that you get the most value out of our videos, we made a short clip asking you for any ideas and suggestions — things you want to see, things you want to know, and everything else in between.


If you’re interested to find out more