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Megan Connolly is a teacher at Arahoe School Auckland, whose student team, The Arahoe Coders, competed against other teams in a series of interactive Digital Technologies-based activities to win the coveted title of the Tahi Rua Toru tech 2018 Primary (now Discovery) National Champions! Connolly talked with us to give us a glimpse into how she integrated the interactive primary challenge into her classroom.
Connolly explained that Arahoe School is always looking for opportunities to “challenge and extend students, particularly those who show a talent, passion or interest in a specific area.” Connolly saw the Tahi Rua Toru tech challenge as a great opportunity to get students engaged with digital technologies, “this was a great experience to try something out that we could potentially continue to use as this curriculum was rolled out.”
Connolly introduced the age-appropriate ‘offline’ activities to her students, who were eager to start making their way through them, although they were challenging at first, she loved to watch students have that “lightbulb moment” at which she could step back, “until they started begging for a harder challenge!”
Once the students had completed all the challenges confidently, practicing in different teams and competing against each other, they were then able to download their own CREST Primary Certificate and compete against other schools at the regional championships. Connolly’s team ‘The Arahoe coders’ won the regionals and in doing so a free trip to Wellington to compete in the National finals, the team went on to compete against other regional winners, eventually taking out the top spot as the National Champions.
Connolly pointed out, winning wasn’t the main takeaway for the students, as it was being inspired by all the technology around them that was their main takeaway, including the tech expo which had heaps of fun gadgets on display as well as a visit to the TradeMe offices, which gave students a “perspective as to potential future careers.” Inspiration also came from the kids hearing about the older student’s projects, and where the challenge could take them in the future, “Being able to hear what other teams had created was inspiring to them.” When asked if she had any advice to pass onto teacher looking to join the challenge, Connolly stressed that it doesn’t take a whole lot of prior knowledge about Digital Technologies to take part,
When asked if she had any advice to pass onto teacher looking to join the challenge, Connolly stressed that it doesn’t take a whole lot of prior knowledge about Digital Technologies to take part, “My students definitely knew a whole lot more than me about the technical side of things. I just provided coaching and structure.” She also made the point that it’s important to offer the challenge to a mix of kids, as the challenge is purpose build so that everyone can get involved, and utilise each other’s strengths, “In the end they learn so much from each other.”