What do a mohawk and making connections have in common?

On the 23rd of October I took part in the Canteen Headshave that had been organised by our head and deputy head girl. It took place in the school hall with quite a few students and teachers watching.

There were 8 students that had ALL of their hair shaved off and they all had long hair! Big ups to them, as I can’t imagine what it would be like to shave all your hair off at 15, beginning in an all girls’ school (I have had short hair forever and went to a co-ed secondary school). They also had number 0’s, I only went to a number 1. There was also one other teacher that joined in.

I got the hairdresser to shave mine like a mohawk with the intention that it would all come off but on the spur of the moment I took hold of the mic and said to all the students “If you can raise $100 by the time Mr Dixon gets his head shaved I will keep the mohawk for a week!”. Mr Dixon was just about to have his started so I thought I was pretty safe. How wrong was I! About $150 in less then 5 minutes.

Mohawk 1

So, a mohawk at school for a week! Plus, one of the hairdressers had colour hair chalk and about 4 students jumped at the opportunity to let their creative talents loose on my head!

mohawk chalk

It was really cool participating in this event and helping raise money for Canteen but I got heaps more out of it. I made connections with students.

Even with students that I have never taught, I now have a connection. Walking around school with a mohawk is a bit unusual and when students saw me with my mohawk and knowing why I had it (although some didn’t know) they would smile at me or make some positive comment. Students who I didn’t know giving me a little smile and me smiling back, that is a connection, a little connection but worth a lot.

Which links in nicely to this from Justin Tarte’s blog:

We can’t accept that our content is more important than the relationships we establish with our students. It is with almost absolute certainty that students won’t care about your content if they don’t care about you. Develop strong relationships to truly bring your content to life for your students.


Teaching, to me, is more then the content I teach. It is about the students, it is about the relationships we as people have with them. It is about being positive role models for the young people I see every day. What I do, how I behave, how I care, what I say does make a difference – what I teach, not so much.


He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!


Beginners Computer Science – CS4HS (con’t)

1.44 Achievement Standard – continued on from Day 1

  • do not compare selection and insertion sort, better to do one of them and compare with quick sort
  • Quick sort – easy to do with hands and explain but hard to program. So good to do for 1.44 (scales that say heavy or lighter – just need binary, this or that)
  • worse case of quick sort is selection sort, at best will do lots better then selection sort
  • algorithms Cant TG


  • Hashing – algorithm that students do not need to know about. (Battleships).
  • Searching or sorting – one or the other, most common was sorting then searching, students who did either did quick well.
  • Easier to stick with one

1.44 Programming languages

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  • MS World is a complied program. Scratch is an interpreted program, have to have scratch.
  • Source code, object code – top of complied is source code

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  • real life is a mixture, Java is a mixture
  • programmes – if statements, iteration – real power of programme language – HTML not really a programme language
  • programming.dojo.net.nz
  • posters – put up in class, same program in different languages

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Level 2 – 2.44

Human Computer Interaction

  • students will use Heuristics – principles or guidelines
  • consistency is really good, e.g. ctrl+c = copy
  • provide useful feedback if someone makes an error – a heuristic is not a rule
  • come up in Level 3 for algorithms
  • heuristics are a ‘rule of thumb’
  • books – 2nd one better

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  • The Design of Everyday Things – Donald A Norman

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  • whole system needs to work not just the device or not just the interface
  • it is not the users fault if they can’t use the interface, it is badly designed

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  • interfaces to use with students
  • Heuristics (Nielsen)

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  • find something that takes more then a second to respond
  • feedback – reasonable time

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  • Lights on doors, green is safe, secure but for users of the door green would mean unlocked.

Data Representation

  • Activity – cards with dates, doubling up of dots – bits, binary counting

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  • Binary counter / binary piano – on/off
  • Code for letters (5 bits)
    • sound message – beeps high 1, low 0
    • insignificant number is to the right, number with less value – 1
    • CS Unplugged – http://csunplugged.org/modem
      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-v4Awj_p7g
      • Steganography – a message hidden in a message
        “is the art and science of encoding hidden messages in such a way that no one, apart from the sender and intended recipient, suspects the existence of the message.” Wikipedia
    • message is that by adding one bit, twice as much power


  • making files smaller
  • most common is zipping files – zip file

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  • RAID 5
  • first white, second black – even parity – error correctionEmbedded image permalink
  • bar code – number 9 is number that others add up toEmbedded image permalink
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  • Encryption: Caesar Cipher
  • why does this matter – how does this work in the really world, how many photos would fit in a camera, password, banking – want to be encrypted
  • encryption keys – how do the two people get the two keys
  • talk about application of coding
  • with encryption more processing is going on, some with if students do encryption by hand – they need to do more processing to decipher the code (or cipher the code)

CS4HS – Writing Reports

Tim Bell, Canterbury University / Heidi

External reports that students have to write.
Upper limit is 14 pages – if writing that then too much!! Would be way above E. At all 3 levels.

Aim for around 10 pages for a report, may do it in 2 or 3 different ways.
Question is have they ticked off all the points?

Teachers Guide says what to do for each bullet point in the ASs. Plural – must have 2 or more. If only do one haven’t meant the requirements of the standard.
1.44 Demonstrate understanding of basic concepts from computer science

  • Don’t get students to write a programme, it is about comparing, download programmes – Scratch / Python
  • graph, linear scale, labels, titles e.g.”time taken for sorting”, key,
    • pick two algorithms that are quite different
    • good way to present, quite a bit of work to get out of Excel, label by curve
    • students need to articulate information about it, marker wants to know what the student knows about the graph
    • 1.44 – Python 2.7 – sorting algorithm / programme NZACDITT
  • other examples
    • no units, time taken – secs, mins,
    • quick sort, selection, bubble, insertion, merge, quick
    • Heidi has whole paper on it
    • practical example, okay for group to have an experience, but not okay for group to write the report, has to be individual
  • Teacher prompts – be very careful, open questions
  • personal experience / student voice
  • look at someone else’s user interface, show the interface
  • personalisation, sort of n! possible examples
  • evaluate an interface that you own – e.g. my phone, my alarm clock
  • How to lie with statistics – scale – 11, 21, 30, 38, 45, 51, 56, 60, 63, 65, 66
  • want genuine student learning to be happening – feedback from teacher on external reports


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Look at other things that are evaluated e.g. movie reviews and how they can be different, because people have different opinions.

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  • For external reports, can add video, loose a couple of videos. Electronic, Google Docs – must be pdf.
  • Content showing the students understanding is the thing, not the formatting. If students get stuck on words help students with words so they can get content down.
  • Problem – something that needs to be solved, not a ‘bad’ thing. E.g. a sorting problem. Problems and their algorithm – problem is that I need to sort these numbers, solution is a sorting algorithm. There are lots of solutions to a problem.

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AI for 3.44

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Use scaffolding but are broad one, make it so it allows for personlisation.

Python for Beginners!

Online python – http://www.trypython.org/

Wing 101 – http://wingware.com/downloads/wingide-101/5.0.0-1/binaries



Otago University Programming Workbooks – http://www.cs.otago.ac.nz/schools/

Python is not backwards compatible from 3 to 2. Little difference but a bigger difference is need to have a () around what you want to print.

string = string of characters
integer = number

i, j, k – little loops going around

comments are documentation for your programme, when run in python test model where the comments will be recognised
“if someone was to test my programme this is what it would do, have tests for every module in your programme” – reason to put in comments

have to have syntax correct, right commas, full stops, ”  ‘, etc

Pros and cons of doing Python or Scratch at Year 11. For some Scratch maybe demotivating, for some it maybe motivating if they haven’t seen it before.

Turtle in Python is exactly the same as the Pen in Scratch.

Resources – http://nzacditt.org.nz/resources/programming-and-cs/programming-python (need login)

CS4HS – Day 2

Session 1

Caitlin Duncan, postgrad computer science student at Canterbury, PHD 2014

Liked Science, Maths and Art. Wanted to combine. Went to do Engineering at Canterbury, programming paper part of course, wouldn’t have found CS otherwise. Changed to CS degree.

Really scared of asking questions, didn’t feel that fitted in, loved some parts but not like a “hacker”, didn’t absolutely love programming. Moved on to PostGrad, wanted to prove that could do it.

Started Computer Chicks club – cool!!! Empowering for the women in the course. This is way the high school curriculum is so important, need to show that it is for everyone, the stereotype for CS people is not true, need diversity, need well rounded people, expose students to it.

Acushla-Tara Sutton – student story from Victoria University

Computer Science Club

Caitlin has started girls’ only club with another student. http://computerscienceclub.org/

Think I’m going to try and start one at Wellington Girls’ College – http://computerscienceclub.org/start-a-club/

Somehow get students from Thorndon School involved in the club as well – girls and boys.

Computer Science Unplugged – http://csunplugged.org/

“CS Unplugged is a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around.”



CS4HS – Google Talk: Tobias


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Software Engineering, what is it?

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Don’t say our students aren’t interested, we don’t know and it will be the world that they move into!! Have to give them the opportunity to explore.

Girls – main thing is to not discourage them! Group work, role models (Grace Hopper), make it clear how in demand women are in the CS / IT industry.

Grok Learning – workshops https://groklearning.com/

CS4HS Futureintech Talk – Susan Weekes



People can come in and talk to students. Fashion Tech use at WGC.
Brochures, pdfs – free, order online, will be delivered.

http://www.futureintech.org.nz/pathways/ – link to image and second half


Application, put learning into a context. Give a reason why they are learning what you are teaching them!


Competition – http://www.nea.org.nz/
Other competition – http://codeworx.co.nz/

Computer Science Association of New Zealand