#CASConf 2017

It’s been a while folks, but here’s a post outlining my workshop with the estimable @Mr_G_ICT for the Computing At School conference 2017.

Our session is based around a couple of practical ways to teach the theory content for the new networking GCSE specification.

Part One – Pick A Card

The first thing that you can’t get away from is content – there’s lots of it and many, many key terms to be learned. One of my favourite ways to do this is an idea from Paul Ginnis’ excellent Teachers Toolkit. Here’s how it works.

For the session I have prepared key terms game cards (Word PDF)for a mix and match activity – laminating and velcro on the back of each card is ideal here so that the relevant definition can be stuck to the back of each key term. If you prefer, the students can find and write their own definitions on the back of each card, this helps them learn how to use revision guide/textbooks more efficiently. Just make sure that you delegate out the job of definition checker. I’d also recommend using my banned list technique here to take thinking deeper.

The next stage is the revision game. Here are the rules:

  1. Display a large timer on the board – online-stopwatch is ace for this.
  2. Students work in pairs – one is the player and one the referee.
  3. Cards start key term face up on the desk.
  4. The player has to say the key term then give the definition on the back without looking.
  5. Referee checks – if they’re right turn the card over and move on. If not the ref reads the player the definition. They can’t have another go at that one until they have tried all the remaining cards.
  6. Run the timer for about 3 minutes – if players finish in that time then the referee records their time. If not then ref records how many they got right – they have to start with the ones they didn’t get right next time.
  7. Students swap roles and off we go again – now player twos have to try and beat their partners.
  8. Repeat as desired – I find that two rounds each is about right.
  9. Follow up with a quiz to assess what stuck.

Repetition, collaboration, competition, many brains working at once and, dare we say it – fun. All important ingredients for long term recall. You’ve also got a starter/plenary for future lessons!

Part Two – Rock & Rules

Protocols are a tricky one to get your head around. The tablets of stone activity helps pupils to act out the process of moving data around a network whilst following strict rules. It also really underlines the need for precision when devising their own protocols.

Students will act in several roles – senders, receivers & messengers. It’s a good idea to get them doing all roles to show them all sides of the process and to avoid some being left with nothing to do.

Messages must be written on a template(Word PDF) – however this is missing some key information.

Students have to send messages between each other, these are provided on the template doc. They’re designed to be awkward to send, eg:

  • They don’t fit on one message template
  • Words don’t make sense or aren’t common
  • There’s no way of identifying the order of the message.

After a few minutes students start to get frustrated – you might want to have an auditory aid here so that they can ring a bell (for example) when there’s a problem. If they ring the bell, they have to write the problem on a post it and stick it to the board. stop the class after a few minutes for a discussion about how to modify the rules to fix problems identified. All old messages that don’t obey the new rules have to be thrown away and re-sent with the new rules, emphasising the importance of getting the protocol right before starting the task.


That’s the basis of our session, if you have any questions please get in touch via CAS or by tweeting to @MrAColley and @Mr_G_ICT