Year 7 have completed a unit of work cryptography. They learned about the history of cryptography from the Caesar Cipher to the Enigma machine and on to present day encryption. Each Year 7 group was challenged with various coded messages to crack. They then had to create a crime challenge for the other class to solve. The Cipher Wheels that they made were useful for creating their own coded messages. As well as simple shift ciphers they used various other ciphers including a Number Replacement Cipher, a mobile phone keypad cipher and Morse code. They also created their own ciphers.
If anyone wants to try out their code cracking skills, the “games” on the CryptoClub site are very challenging!
Year 7’s next unit of work is an introduction to computer programming. They have started using MSW Logo, a simple programming language, which is excellent for making patterns based on geometric shapes.
Through repeat loops and procedures (functions) they are learning about key programming concepts, as well as having fun!
Year 8 have been learning about spreadsheets. They are now competent at all the basic formals and formatting techniques. Further challenge was provided with complex functions including If and nested IF conditions.
Year 8 are currently learning to create their own graphic art and to edit images using Adobe Photoshop. Interesting repeated patterns were made using the various shape tools and duplicating layers. The filter effects are always good fun, with twirl and liquefy being the most popular!
Year 9 have been exploring how to make webpages by writing the code themselves in HTML, using Notepad, a simple text editor. They had fun making webpages about their favourite hobbies and including pictures that they took themselves. Colour, font styles and different layouts were added using CSS.
Year 10 covered the topic of keyboards as input devices.
First we discussed what keyboards are, and what is a QWERTY (and QWERTZ) keyboard. Students were introduced to a different layout on a keyboard, the Dvorak layout, and tried to type their names using it.
Keyboards can also be used in different environments. Whilst a standard keyboard is a hard in a wet or chemical environment, there are keyboards for these environments, and the students tried a roll-up version.
Whilst standard keyboards are useful for typing (whether Qwerty or Dvorak) within a restaurant or bar the use of a concept keyboard can increase efficiency, and examples, like the one in McDonald’s were mentioned.
Keyboards are also about being useful for different age groups, and so the students discussed and then tried out 2 keyboard. One was for very young children with no letters on, just a few colourful shaped pictures. The second was a keyboard with large letters, where the vowels/consonants/numbers/special characters were different colours. They worked out that this could also be used by young children learning the alphabet, but also by those with the likes of mild arthritis in their fingers.
Another keyboard we looked at was a wireless one, this time a very small keyboard, in the shape of a games controller. This was connected to a device that enabled them to surf the internet.
The final keyboard was a (new version) of a classic keyboard, the ZX Spectrum.
After trying out the keyboards, in the time left, students tried to find other, different keyboards via the internet. They found many other types, such as Maltron, ergonomic and Braille.
At the end of the day the students appreciate that there are many different types of keyboards, for many different purposes, and many different audiences.
To finish off they all found the keyboard on their phones, all touch-screen versions of course.
The new cohort for the IGCSE ICT have started to enjoy their lessons in this new phase of their education journey.
Within the book that are within the glossary are printed in red. As a quick homework students typed, as a list, all the red words/phrases from chapter 1. The purpose was to get them to see theses specific words, and in typing them out to reinforce that they had read and copied them. If students had just read the chapter they would have skimmed over it and perhaps something would have sunk in. Given that some of the students level of English still has to improve for them to fully read the book using words/phrases is more useful to them at this stage.
Then in class we discussed word clouds and how they can be used to show off the key words. Students then, using their red word list, created some word clouds, thereby reinforcing the words.
Some of their examples are shown below:
Over the next few weeks we will look in detail at what these words mean, using examples, such that when asked examination questions they do understand what the key words are and how to apply them to their answers.
Things will get harder…
And here is a word cloud of this post:
Whilst this year’s units of work have just started, here are details of a one-off unit we completed last year with students in Year 8 (Grade 7).
We were donated under a school’s initiative a copy of Magna Carta (from Magna Carta World Heritage) to celebrate the 800th anniversary, and had this framed. It looked lonely on the wall so a unit was devised to add some colour.
First students listened to the first episode of the excellent BBC Radio Four programme on Magna Carta, and looked up Runnymede on Google Maps and the National Trust websites so they could see that this was a real place.
They then had to write a 2 page report on what it was all about, and its importance. This involved research on the internet.
Having now some background knowledge we looked at the 25 Barons involved in the story, thinking up ideas of who they may have been and what they would have been like.
The ICT side came in when we opened PowerPoint and looked at Master Slides. Having created a quick presentation themselves to understand the concept they were given a PowerPoint slide with a Facebook profile on the background. Having divided up the Barons between the students they then researched and added in factually accurate details about the Barons. Their starting point was the Magna Carta Trust‘s 800th Anniversary site (with section for schools)
Once checked and completed the final printouts were then displayed around the Magna Carta print.
To add even more colour the Art teacher had some students draw various shields of the Barons that were also placed around the work.
This is the final piece, well done to all the students involved:
Welcome to the first Secondary ICT blog at the British International School (BIS).
Over the past few years each class in the Primary School has had a class blog, and we thought it was about time we joined in with the fun. All BIS blogs this year are available via the blog homepage.
ICT is taught at BIS as a compulsory subject in Years 7, 8 and 9 (US grades 6-8, 12-14 years old); this is Key Stage 3. What we teach is aligned to the English National Curriculum, though allowing for flexibility in that we are in Serbia, and also capable of updating to new ideas far quicker. Students have 3 lessons of 40 minutes per week (=2 hours).
In Year 10 and 11 (US grades 9/10, 14-16 years old), this being Key Stage 4, students choose to follow the Cambridge International Examinations course in either ICT or Computer Science. Students have 4 lessons of 40 minutes per week (2 hours 20 minutes).
We will use the blog to ad details of how well our students are doing (past results have been excellent) and also topics related to their courses that are of interest generally.
Mr Howie and Mrs Mennie
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