I accidentally stopped blogging about the school’s progress last year, which is a shame because we’ve used programming much more widely, held Raspberry Pi sessions and been invited to talk at events.
I recently sent a link to somebody who was interested in Digital Leaders with a view to helping them start a group up. Turns out it was a post that was over 2 years old. With the introduction of the new DL slow-chat, I thought I’d try and explain a little more about what we have done with DLs over the last few years.
We’ve had interviews with the headteacher, recommendations from the teaching staff and good, old-fashioned badgering on the part of the children. The key is finding out who is really interested – the best way to do this is to talk to the children. Run a lunchtime club where you can play with software and hardware, start a Code Club and spot the regulars, and make sure you get feedback from other teachers about who stands out (not just in terms of ability, but also enthusiasm and interest).
Ensure that the children have a clear idea of what they are doing, and why they are doing it.
We talked to our children about becoming experts: that they might be training staff (they did); they could be leading parents’ meetings (they did that too) and they would be testing and assessing new programs, websites and apps (tick).
Currently, the Digital Leader team have been raising awareness of online safety. They created and conducted questionnaires across KS2 about how the internet is used in our school, and this will be fed into staff training. The children will also be leading activities on Safer Internet Day in February.
I am not the most regular of contributors to the #dlchat community, but I do appreciate it and have picked up lots of good advice and ideas from joining in when I can. This forum allows the sharing of good practice and gives a good idea of what other schools are doing.
From joining in these chats, we were fortunate enough to be invited to a DLKidsmeet, organised by Liz Allton, where Digital Leaders from up and down the country shared their experiences. They were then treated to workshops in Minecraft, Sphero, 3D printing, Kodu and much, much more. More than this, the children were able to present in front of a real and engaged audience – this, to me, was invaluable, and this can be achieved at any level, whether it be in an assembly at school, to a local cluster or at a larger event.
Plan what the children could do over the next year. Invite ideas from them, ask colleagues if they require support in any areas and keep tabs on what is new in computing – then get the DLs to try it!
We have had DLs for 3 years now and they are part of the furniture at school. They take responsibility and are proud to be leaders among their peers, while they become mini experts in different areas. They promote computing as a subject, show enthusiasm for the role they carry out and help others throughout the school.
I have seen children grow in confidence so much after becoming a Digital Leader, even it was only for a term, and that alone is worth it. I’m glad we have children who are enthusiastic about their learning – long may it continue.
If you are thinking of starting a Digital Group but feel a little unsure, just go for it, even if it’s only for a trial period. What’s the worst that could happen?