Sunday, September 30, 2007

Setting CAT examination papers

During the holidays I started setting my end of year exam papers. Here is what I will use as my check list for setting papers.
Written paper
Key words - Take key words of the Learning Outcomes into consideration: For the written paper it is mainly LO1 - ‘The learner is able to demonstrate operational knowledge of information and communication technologies and the environments in which they operate.’ The key word is ‘operational’.
Scenario - The paper set in a scenario, which the learners can identify with.
Conceptual level - The paper is set keeping a simplified Bloom’s taxonomy in mind with 3 categories with 30%, 40% and 30%.
What - The list of what should be examined is found on pages 32-35 of the LPG (Jan 2007). I do not know what the balance should be for each of the areas (rows in the table)

I do realise that I am in a transition phase between subjects and much studying of the official documents, i.e. NCS, LPG and SAG, still need to be done. Now that I have these points clear I will move on with greater clarity. I feel quite embarrassed that I had not noticed these important pages in the LPG before - I had mainly looked at the SAG!
I will look at the practical paper later.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Gr 10 PAT

The PAT is available for Gr 10. This PAT is based on Celebrations and Feesvieringe. Geniet dit!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why use Excel, Access and Word – Reflections

I teach/train CAT teachers at a local university. They are finishing their PAT. On completion of Phase 4 I asked them to write down why/how/when Excel and Access was useful to them. Did they just teach the applications because they had to and it was part of CAT? Did they see the use of those programs? Did they see the use of features of Word? We spoke about it for a while. I wanted them to see the value of the applications. I asked them to create a PowerPoint that would be understandable to their learners on the uses of Excel, Access and Word.

At the end of the exercise I believe that all the students understand why we use these packages. This exercise required much reflection – the students went to the textbook and looked carefully at the exercises and saw the values of the functions of the different packages. I am glad we did the exercise. Verbalising the value of the applications was difficult. I took information from their slide shows and this is how they saw the value of Excel and Access.

Excel - Why use Excel
Excel is a program to process numerical data.
It can organise, record and summarise information.
It can compare data created in the same document on different sheets.
It can integrate (paste) easily into other packages such as Word, PowerPoint and Access.
Gathered information can be analyzed and organized. Can analyze data using built in functions for making deductions. Calculations, e.g. max, min, mode, median can be used to solve problems. There are built in functions for nearly any kind of calculation (Wizard) and you can create your own formulas.
Graphs are used to pinpoint trends and to make suggestions and represent results of questionnaires. Can show results in graphs, can interpret information shown in graphs.

Access - Why use Access
Store data electronically in a table.
Data is structured and organized in tables.
Manipulate and change data.
Process data into usable information using:
1. Queries (extract info). Enables the user to specify information needed
2. Reports (sort, group and do calculations)
3. Forms (input data and display individual records)
Do mathematical and statistical analysis of data

Between Themes / Video / Windows Movie Maker

May I propose that between themes we do something different?

My Grade 10s had finished Theme 3 and I was tired from marking all the Matric Exams and the Grade 11s Phase 3 of the PAT, i.e. I was exhausted when I went into class and just decided to change things. I made the Gr 10s create movies with Windows Movie Maker which comes with Windows XP.

Initially I put pictures of all the learners in the class on the network (taken from their ID cards) and they had to use them to make a movie, initially just with pictures, text and transitions. Windows Movie Maker is easy to use and they seemed to fall into it. None had ever used the program before. Next I told them they had to create a movie about their families using 4 of - video clip, images, audio, text and transitions. They had three days to do it. After reflection I changed it to 3 of video clip, images, audio, text and transitions. ALL of those things had to be about their family - videos, pictures and sound. I presumed a lot. I presumed that they all had digital cameras, with video capabilities and/or cell phones with video capabilities.

When they handed it in 3 days later it was interesting to see who cannot follow instructions. Some had background music that was not played by the family and not sung by the family. I tried to upload to YouTube on Friday afternoon, forgetting that bandwidth on a Friday is usually bad and in the afternoon to the US is very very bad. I will try again on Monday to upload some of the movies. Initially I will put them in my area of YouTube – go to YouTube and search for docpammiller.

Here are some ideas/tips on making movies.
Folder – Put all your working files (image, audio, video, movie file) in a folder as it is easier to move a folder and keep file path correct.
Images – Images taken with a digital camera are huge. Make them smaller in an image editing program such as Paint, to about 20 cm width which will make the image and then the movie smaller.
Conversion – A video taken with a cell phone is in mp4 format. It needs to be converted to avi format before it can be pulled into a movie. You can do this with software from
Music – You may NOT use anybody else’s music at all if you wish to use YouTube unless you are playing it with an instrument or singing along to it or with it.
Whole video – Make the video small so downloading is faster. Limit it to 4 minutes.

The Grade 11s saw or heard what was happening with Gr 10 and movies, and were cross (it was ‘unfair’) I have promised to set the practical exam on the topic of making movies and hope they will subliminally learn about movie making.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Gr 10 Integrated task 3 on Pages 20-22

Does anyone else experience the same challenges? The Integrated Task at the end of Theme 3 is a ‘group’ task so why do the learners hand in separate sheets from each member of the group? If it is a group task then they should hand in ONE document with the same formatting for the WHOLE document, ONE set of page numbers, etc.
Once one has solved that problem, the next has appeared. At least 3 groups have put their Conclusion right after the Introduction! I thought that people know that the Conclusion comes right at the end!
I am getting the Bibliography right. They know they may not use Google in a bibliography - they must give the exact URL where they found the information. In the same way they know they may not give the door to the library in the bibliography, but the details of a book.
It seems that in CAT we have to teach basic writing skills, as well as computer and information management skills. My job is to teach but phew, sometimes! Again I realise the importance of CAT.

Gr 11 Access test

The Grade 11s did their first Access test. We all work in different ways and use different ways to get the learners to eventually succeed. So the test was an open book test, they could use the textbook to look up formulaes, etc. and they were permitted to ask 1 question. At the end there was the realisation that some learning was required and that you even have to ‘learn’ about applications!
I am so sorry that I cannot make the test available - it is probably going to be used on the Grade 12 CD for Study Opportunity - I was testing it!

Gr 11 PAT - Phase 4 - Survey

My learners have moved on to the next phase of their PAT – the survey. For the survey they needed to have 10 completed forms. They need to make graphs to be able to interpret and present the findings of the survey.
The key words are ONE question = ONE graph with a CLEAR title and CLEAR labels! This means they need 1 graph for EACH question! In future I must insist they consider how they are going to present their findings in graphs BEFORE they create a survey.
I am learning how to teach information management skills!

Where are we now and future of IT/CAT

Many computer teachers attended a meeting at the Centre for High Performance Computing of the CSIR in Rosebank yesterday I saw the largest computer I have ever seen.

Many things came out of the meeting and the discussions afterwards. They are listed below.
1. - Students wishing to study Computer Science at UCT do not need to have studied Computer Science/Programming/IT at school
2. - Information Systems is a good subject to study as it applied business subjects in a computer environment
3. – We need to train IT teachers
4. – CAT is important as students learn personal productivity tools
5. – CAT should get greater recognition / credit at university as an entrance subject

Monday, September 3, 2007

Keeping a balance

I spent some time with teachers recently. We discussed some ways of coping and keeping a balance in life. Here is a summary
Be tolerant and supportive of things which the education department does. We are still in a learning phase with the new curriculum. They really are trying their best and want the system to succeed. Do not be confrontational but try to meet them half way.
Do not make school the whole focus of your life. Remember that if you leave a school, it will still function. You are not indispensable therefore keep school life in perspective.
Try and keep one day a week a digital free day, no cell phones, ipods or computer.
Remember that family and friends are most important and make time for them.
Be supportive of your colleagues – they need your help – but they must also take responsibility for their own actions and time.
Plan your work – make to do lists.
Smile. Smile. Smile. Smile. Smile.