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GALEN CATHOLIC COLLEGE

CASE STUDY | snapshot September 2021


Galen Catholic College is a secondary school in Wangaratta with approximately 1200 students.

The Digital Technologies learning area is taught as part of an integrated STEM program that includes 10-week units using VEX robotics in Year 7 and B4 electronic sets in Year 8. The Year 7 program has a strong emphasis on Design Thinking and related "soft skills", while the Year 8 program emphasises Digital Systems and binary.

Students in Year 9 take part in 2D and 3D game development, leading into a VET Screen and Media option in Year 10.

Other hardware at the school includes: Drones, Sphero, Raspberry Pi, 3D printers, laser cutters, Digital Embroidery machine, TI CAS calculators and rover robots, Makey Makey.

Software and services used include: Code Combat, Hour of Code, Codecademy, Swift (Xcode), Unity, Unreal Engine, CAD - Maya / Autodesk Fusion 360.

Professional learning
Staff are highly involved with VEX Robotics PL, including their online certifications. They have direct communication with the developer of the B4 electronics system and related platforms. They have also utilised recent webinars at the Digital Technologies Hub.

Our biggest success

A hands on approach, and getting student engagement with varying abilities. We focus on soft skills, not only on hard skills.

The school gained funding for our integrated STEM program through their Parents Association (50/50 split). The grant application can be viewed here.

Our biggest challenge

Creating units that work for the students and their learning, with an aim for engagement in tech but not necessarily focusing on the content descriptors of the Digital Technologies Curriculum.

Adapting and engaging students during remote learning. Most love the hands-on aspect, working in small teams.

CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTATION

Levels 7-8
Unit Overview 

 



Spotlighted Unit: VEX Robotics (Year 7)
Focused topics:  teamwork, design thinking

 

Spotlighted Unit: B4 Coding (Year 8)
Focused topics:  digital systems, binary

GOING FORWARD

What we identified for development

There are still many “holes” in that these units do not fulfill in the Digital Technologies F-10 Curriculum.

We hit some content descriptors by “accident” in other subjects and units of work, so a full curriculum review and greater emphasis on the Digital Technologies Curriculum would help hit more of the curriculum outcomes.

Things we would avoid or do differently

1. Timetabling can be an issue, with one period lessons. Getting out the equipment then having to pack up.

2. Better preparing students for Year 9 and 10 DigiTech options.

INPUT FROM DLTV and ACS

NOTE: This advice is relevant to this school snapshot as at September 2021, with documents provided at that time.

starting out   >   building practices   >   consolidating practices

Through effective and thorough use of two classroom tools (VEX robotics and B4 electronics) Galen Catholic College has developed an engaging program in Years 7 and 8 that works with the needs of their students.

The school has been deliberate about emphasising "soft skills" like teamwork and design thinking skills in Year 7, balancing that with highly technical and ground-level electronic work in Year 8.

As noted, Galen would benefit from a systematic and thorough curriculum review to determine exactly where the gaps are in their implementation of the Digital Technologies curriculum F-10, without sacrificing the established strengths of the existing program.

Key parts of the curriculum are being addressed already, especially within the Creating Digital Solutions and Digital Systems strands.

Some areas to check might include:

  • Computational Thinking in the 7-8 level band. Are students designing and coding algorithms with sufficient complexity (this can be a challenge when working with physical tech like robots and electronics)?
  • Acquiring and manipulating data, and presenting information. These skills may be partially addressed in other learning areas, but Secondary Digital Technologies places an emphasis on structuring and visualising the data.

CONTACT

School contacts: Maree Timms (Secondary teacher)

Phone: (03) 5721 6322 (school office)

Email: admin-enquiry@galen.vic.edu.au, subject line: ‘Attention: Maree Timms DT Implementation’

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