LEGO Education Teacher Award UK Winner

Chris Wilde

2002- Started his teaching career as a History Teacher

2006 - Awarded commendation for teacher of the year based around using technology to have an impact on teaching and learning

2007 - Seconded to the local authority to develop council wide teaching resources and develop a Virtual Learning Environment.

2008 - Participated in Google’s first European Google Teacher Academy & became a Google Certified Teacher

2009 - Decided to start teaching coding units as part of North Tyneside’s CLC program. These included Game Design, HTML and Robotics.

2013 - Enrolled on the first cohort of BCS computer science teaching qualification

2014 - Developed the Build-IT initiative for North Tyneside Schools

2016 - Became a CAS Master Teacher

2017 - Became Head of Digital Technology and Computing at Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School

2017 - Founded Make Stuff North East.

2018 - Winner of the LEGO® Education Teacher Award

During my time as an educator, I have always been interested in pedagogy, and how we as teachers can support young people in their learning journey. During my early career, I utilised a project-based learning approach as much as possible, and
technology was always at the forefront of my teaching.

I remember my first purchases for the department were a laptop, projector and a range of software to allow me to create learning resources. In developing an understanding of a range of programs to support T&L I started work on a new development at the time known as a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). Yes, it was new at the time...I really am that old ;-)

This led to me being seconded to our Local Education Authority to work as a content developer. I worked on different learning artefacts to help young people learn content for examinations, and in so doing was able to hone my coding skills, working with HTML, CSS, SQL, PHP and Actionscript.

While I enjoyed the content creation aspect, and working for the authority as a whole, I was aware that my true passion lay in being at the front of the classroom, and this led to me offering to teach computing sessions at our Local City Learning Centres in North Tyneside.

 
 

I remember opening the cupboards at the front of the CLC and seeing about 30 NXT’s sitting there unloved and unused. At the back was a mat and a set of lego bricks. A bit of research informed me that the bricks were for a competition called “First Lego League”, and the models were for a series of challenges called “Ocean Odyssey”.

I planned my first teaching session around this kit, and the kids and I were hooked. They were problem solving, collaborating, working on projects and learning how to code. The sessions went so well that we decided to start an annual FLL tournament in North Tyneside. It is currently the largest in the region, and I have been involved in supporting Newcastle and Sunderland Universities in setting up their own regional heats too.

A year later I found some unopened boxes of Lego under a desk in another room at the CLC entitled WeDo. I had to have a play around, and found that the interface and possibilities for this kit were fantastic for younger pupils. The ability to develop a deep understanding of mechatronic principles through play was huge to me, and so I introduced this into my events schedule. Once again the pupils loved it, and the ability to follow algorithms to create functioning model and  play with them to develop their ideas really tied into the pedagogical principles I was into at the time. The work of Papert, Stager and Resnick were in the forefront of my mind, and were all evident in the learning that was taking place.

Combining this with my PBL approach I started the “Fun-faire” event, where pupils create their own amusement park using WeDo. It’s something I still use to this day, and led to me writing a post for Lego Education, and being involved in the working party for WeDo 2.0. I was also able to setup FLL Junior for North Tyneside schools during this time.

The time spent “Playing” with these objects to think with really got me into the Constructionist learning model, and I looked at other tools that could be used in the classroom to develop computing skills in young people.

Today in my role as head of Digital Technology and Computing at Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School I work in the EDT department developing a maker mentality using Picaxe chips and circuitry, Raspberry Pi Micro computers and Arduino processors. We have a robotics program where pupils use EV3’s for competitions such as “First Lego League”, “Tomorrow’s Engineers”, and the “UK Subsea Challenge”. Our Junior school uses WeDo and WeDo 2.0 to develop STEAM skills. All of our Y4 classes have built their own fun-faire, and we have groups working on their FLL Junior models as we speak. As I am building a new computing department our Year 9 cohort will be working ona PBL module with EV3 next year, and we are in discussions to launch an innovation studio in 2019. We use Lego regularly in our approach to EDT allowing the pupils to prototype and build models to reference their learning and thinking.

We use LEGO to help our young people create their imagination.