Friday, July 27, 2018

Students presenting their projects at a teachers' conference

Today, I had the privilege of co-presenting with three of my students at DigiCon 2018. The whole day was really engaging and the students benefited from hearing the keynote speech and from playing with robots. In the afternoon, we ran our own session, which a friend and colleague asked me to write about.

Our session was about designing digital tech electives that appeal to girls. I wanted to share some ideas about what has been working for us at Avila College and to show that attracting girls to digital technologies need not mean a watering down of our offerings.

The session was well attended, with about 30 teachers there. The students, previously nervous about presenting to teachers, seemed relaxed and confident once we got started.
This slipper hides a message from Bob to Alice

Saturday, June 09, 2018

On multi-lingual education

Having grown up in Lebanon, I was taught French and Arabic throughout my schooling and then English from Grade 6. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity. When my family migrated to Australia, I was able to begin my university studies without the need to spend a year learning the language. When I decided to write a Master's thesis, I found that many experts in that subject were French-speaking researchers from Switzerland.

In this blog post, I make one simple suggestion for languages education in Australia. I have no illusions about the reach of my blogposts or any expectation that anyone will take up this proposal. The most I am hoping for is a discussion with those interested in the topic and generous enough to offer a comment.

My proposal

Choose two languages and make sure every Australian child can study one or both of them from prep to year 12.
Please keep reading to see my justification. I quite possibly anticipate your objections.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Teaching abstraction to high school students

I have often found Abstraction a difficult concept to explain in high school computing classes. I now think that I found a few good examples to illustrate this concept and this post is about one of them.
First, let's define the word:
Abstraction ... is the process of taking away or removing characteristics from something in order to reduce it to a set of essential characteristics. (Abstraction on Whatis.com)
In other words, we hide some detail so we can concentrate on the essential features of the problem at hand. Below, I will attempt to illustrate with an example which is implemented in Snap!, a block-based language created at the University of California, Berkeley.

The problem

Say, for instance, we wanted to draw this brick wall:
Brickwall activity from Beauty and Joy of Computing, UC Berkeley