Classroom Changemakers: Frequently asked questions

www.nesta.org.uk/project/classroom-changemakers/frequently-asked-questions/
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The deadline for applications to the Classroom Changemakers award is 2 March 2020 at 9am.

Eligibility

Who can apply?

The award programme is open to maths and computer science teachers and teaching assistants working in secondary schools or colleges in the UK. This award is only open to those who are based at state-funded or charitable school/colleges in the UK.

Can teachers apply in a group?

Groups of teachers/teaching assistants who have worked together to develop an idea can apply for the award as a group, although we would expect to work with one lead contact.

Can I nominate someone to receive an award rather than apply myself?

No – the application needs to be made by the teachers/teaching assistants who would be the winner. If there is a teacher/teaching assistant who you think is a perfect fit for the Classroom Changemakers award, please contact them directly to suggest they make an application.

My idea already receives funding from another source – can I still apply?

We are open to awarding activities which have already received funding.

Can I submit more than one application?

No, you can only submit one application per teacher. Schools/colleges can submit multiple applications, but teachers can only be involved in one application each.

Is there a recording of the webinar?

Yes, there is a recording of the webinar we held on 6 February. The webinar begins at 04:45. The webinar covers the background to the awards programme, the selection and eligibility criteria and details on the sorts of ideas we're looking for. 

Are there any other requirements?

The requirements of the award are:

  • To submit a full application by 9am on 2 March 2020. The application form involves three main questions and will take up to 30 minutes.
  • If shortlisted to attend a 30 minute phone interview with Nesta staff.
  • If you are an award winner to attend the final event, although we understand that this may not be possible for all award winners. The event will take place in April in London.
  • If you are an award winner, to complete a case study call with Nesta on your idea.

Application and assessment process

What is the application process?

  1. We recommend that you watch our webinar.
  2. Submit your application form by 2 March 2020 at 9am.
  3. Applications will be shortlisted by Nesta and shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend a call with Nesta staff.
  4. A panel of experts will review the shortlisted application forms and give advice to Nesta on which applicants best meet the selection criteria.
  5. Awardees will be finalised in mid-March 2020.

If my application is not successful can I get feedback?

We anticipate a high volume of applications and so will not be issuing individual feedback. We will publish some summary feedback to all shortlisted applicants.

How do I enter?

Entry is online only, via Submittable. Only entries submitted via the system will be accepted. Part or unfinished entries will be discounted.

I’m interested in applying, but I’d like to discuss my work with someone first, can I?

Please watch the recording of our webinar first. If you have further questions please email [email protected] with your question or to arrange a call.

When will the awards be decided?

Final decisions will be made in mid-March 2020.

When do applications close?

Applications close on 2 March 2020 at 9am.

Who will be on the judging panel?

We will announce the full list of judges in January or February.

What do winners of the Classroom Changemakers award receive?

To recognise and support teachers, Classroom Changemakers will receive:

  • £5,000 towards maths or computer science programmes in their school/college.
  • The opportunity to work with Nesta to celebrate their work across a variety of media as well as Nesta communications.
  • The opportunity to work with Nesta and meet other teachers, teaching assistants and educators prioritising these skills through the final awards event.

The awards programme

How many awards are available?

There are 15 awards of £5,000 available.

What can the award be spent on?

Each idea will receive £5,000. This money will be paid to the school/college and money will need to be used to further programmes in either maths or computer science.

Please note that Nesta can only fund projects that advance our charitable objects for public benefit.

What is the aim of the Classroom Changemakers award?

Through these awards Nesta aims to:

  • Reward and celebrate the great work of teachers and teaching assistants.
  • Better understand how teachers and teaching assistants are giving young people the opportunity to be creative and solve problems in maths and computer science.
  • Share this understanding and the bright ideas unearthed by the awards with other educators.

What is the time commitment for teachers and teaching assistants?

  • Complete the short online application form by 2 March 2020. The application form involves three questions and will take up to 30 minutes.
  • If shortlisted complete a 30 minute call with Nesta between 9-13 March.
  • If selected as a winner attend the final event in April in London.
  • If selected as a winner to take part in a phone case study interview with Nesta on your idea.

If I win a Classroom Changemakers award am I expected to attend the launch event?

We look forward to celebrating the awarded teachers and teaching assistants at an event in April in London. We are hoping that being part of the Classroom Changemakers will develop collaboration, expand networks and raise the profile of awardees’ ideas. We therefore advise attendance at the launch, except in cases of extenuating circumstances.

How many teachers/teaching assistants can attend the event from each school or college?

Each winning teacher or teaching assistant who has been involved in an application can attend the final event with an additional guest. Nesta will be able to cover reasonable supply and travel costs for the teachers/teaching assistants involved in an application. We will unfortunately not be able to provide travel and supply costs for additional guests.

See the full selection criteria for applications and application form.

What kind of ideas are we looking for?

We are looking to award teachers and teaching assistants who have developed and tried out an idea in their classroom which aims to give young people the opportunity to be creative and/or solve problems in maths or computer science.

We’re particularly keen to hear from teachers and teaching assistants whose idea also connects maths or computer science to real-world problems and aims to inspire a diverse range of students to engage with and enjoy these subjects.

Nesta conducted a Rapid Evidence Assessment (consisting of a TeacherTapp survey, semi-structured interviews with teachers, and a review of international research and practice) on how teachers are currently providing young people with opportunities to be creative and solve problems in maths and computer science.

Our interviews with teachers highlighted the following approaches in use in schools across the UK, ranging from individual lessons or approaches to particular topics, to generalised whole-school approaches:

  • Framing lessons around a challenge or problem statement
  • Linking maths to the real world eg. bank interest rates
  • Using class and school data for statistics lessons
  • Integrating maths content into other subjects eg. measurement in DT, statistics in PE
  • A mini-project every week
  • A creativity or problem-solving focus every week
  • Whole-school “curiosity” theme integrated into each subject

Our below review of the research literature on teaching creativity and problem-solving in maths and computer science found several main approaches for building these skills.

We hope that the ideas outlined below may help you to complete your application or work out where your idea fits in current teaching practice. However, this list is not exhaustive, so please do not be discouraged from applying if your idea does not easily fall into one of the below examples.

Maths ideas

The evidence on teaching for creativity and problem-solving in maths highlights the following key features of classrooms and activities conducive to these skills: interactive and collaborative environments, rich tasks, open-ended questions, multiple-solution tasks, and complex, unfamiliar and non-routine tasks.

Rich tasks: The Millenium Maths Project is a maths education and outreach initiative by the University of Cambridge. Their NRICH website provides detailed guidance on promoting rich mathematical thinking in the classroom, and the Wild Maths resource suggests lesson ideas for developing creativity in maths at ages 7-16. Featured strategies are gamification, design challenges, and visualising problems through the use of simple craft materials.

Project-based learning: Cooperation between teachers of different subjects within a school to deliver a cross-curricular learning programme can help students both to meet within-subject learning goals and work towards a holistic project. The knowledge and skills content of both maths and computer science lend themselves to a wide range of project applications, such as product design and marketing, creating a computer game, or making a musical instrument. Teachers in some contexts have developed links with local organisations e.g. with local government departments or businesses such as architectural firms and logistics companies, who can supply a real-life challenge, help students understand work contexts, and build relationships across local communities.

Metacognitive approaches: This kind of approach enables students to build a consistent approach to problem-solving and creative thinking, by developing specific steps to apply to a given problem. The CREATE method, developed as part of OECD research into creativity and critical thinking, is a way for teachers and students to scaffold learning (particularly in maths) through a process of decomposing the problem; reconstructing connections to generate ideas; exploring, explaining and experimenting; looking for additional strategies and methods; considering limitations/contradictions; evaluating the solution.

Art: Methods which allow students to explore and apply mathematical concepts and skills – from the basic such as measuring and constructing, to the more complex such as percentages and equations – within an artistic project. Artful Maths provides lesson ideas and resources for teaching maths through creative short-term projects.

Dialogic teaching: A student-centred pedagogical technique that allows students to strengthen their mathematical knowledge and reasoning through engagement with others, with the teacher in a facilitating role. For example, a programme for students struggling in maths lessons in New Jersey emphasised the need to establish norms such as: allowing students to pose problems; not confirming if students were right or wrong in order to allow space for reasoning, justifications, and autonomous conclusions; students being responsible for their classmates’ learning as well as their own. Dialogic teaching aims to combat the highly procedural and routine approaches that are found in many maths classrooms.

Computer science ideas

The literature on computer science advises achieving a balance between computer-based and “unplugged” activities for developing creativity and computational thinking. Nesta and others have argued that teaching should emphasise the thinking skills entailed in computer science above their application. The following examples provide a mixture of the thinking and doing experience.

Games - playing and creating: Computer games can be a tool to provide students with opportunities to be creative and solve problems. Games such as CodeMonkey and LightBot challenge students to use programming skills to solve problems within games. Coding their own games using software such as MissionMaker allows students to be creative and independent in applying their coding skills and knowledge, and to iteratively solve problems as they bring their plans into being. Such projects can usefully be interdisciplinary. For example, UCL’s Knowledge Lab led a programme with 14-year-olds in London to link the English and Computer Science curricula: students created games based on their reading of the poem Beowulf.

Unplugged: An approach to teaching computational thinking skills away from the computer. CS Unplugged is a resource of lessons and units for teaching concepts that form the computational thinking process, such as algorithmic thinking, abstraction and decomposition (for 5-14-year-olds).

Competitions and challenges: Opportunities for children and young people to apply problem-solving and coding skills to a particular task or challenge, in competition with their classmates and/or international peers. Examples of such competitions are the TCS Oxford Computing Challenge and the Bebras Challenge.

The examples provided above are from Nesta’s Rapid Evidence Assessment on how schools and teachers are providing opportunities for young people to be creative and solve problems. We have provided the list to help illustrate the types of ideas we’re looking for. This is not an exhaustive list and we are hoping that the awards programme will unearth many other examples of great ideas from the classroom.

What will happen after the awards?

We are hoping that this award will help showcase the brilliant work happening in maths and computer science through the dissemination of the ideas and collaboration between those involved. We also hope that this awards programme will be a platform for developing a further fund in this area.

Are there any questions Nesta hasn’t thought of?

Yes, definitely! If your query wasn’t answered above send us an email at [email protected] and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.