Hardware – Custom PC Task

PCI Slot

When teaching about hardware, we usually use the internet and text books to read up on individual components and how they work.  Looking back on what I have done in the past, I have realised that learning about components in isolation is not a great way of gaining an understanding of how computers work.  This term, I did something a little different (although definitely not ground breaking!).

I got a couple of old machines and took them apart as I spoke to the class.  Then as each component emerged from the increasingly cannibalised case I passed it around the class.  It was incredible to see the increase in interest just from the fact that the pupils were actually handling something.  I was also embarrassingly surprised at the number of pupils that didn’t know quite how small a CPU was!  To consolidate this interest, the pupils were then asked to find the components to make their own custom PCs.

This task has also been a revelation, as it made me realise that in the past I hadn’t spoken about different types of motherboards and CPU sockets; nor had I spent much time talking about different types of RAM or buying them in matched pairs.  By actually handling the parts and talking about building their own machines, it has prompted more chats about the smaller details that would normally get overlooked.

The amount of discussion in the class has been great, especially as for the high end machine the pupils do not have a budget!  One pupil has chosen 4 x 60″ 3D screens for his high end machine!  He now has to investigate exactly how far back he would need to sit to be able to see them!

I am so pleased that such a small change to my delivery has made a larger than expected change to the pupils interest!  The brief sheet that I gave the pupils after our classroom discussions can be downloaded here. Hardware – Custom PC Task


3 Simple HTML Worksheets

Image by Idea Go from free digital photos.net

As a very simple intro to HTML for my very mixed ability class I went through a couple of random webpages on the internet and, in discussion, we picked out some of the tags that were used.  I then asked the pupils to create their own pages.  To ensure that everyone got the chance of creating something on their own, everyone had to reproduce the green sheet (see below).  Even those that this is not an ideal exercise for (mainly the dyslexic pupils who find copying work difficult) had a sense of achievement a they saw they had created a web page on their own using only code.

All pupils quickly moved onto the Amber sheet which builds upon the green.  For the ‘slower’ pupils, I placed a copy of the code with incomplete tags into their work folders.  This meant that they weren’t penalised by slow typing speed.  Once the amber was complete many pupils then went onto the red which builds directly on the amber.

After red, I gave the pupils a cheat sheet of codes, including some that they had not already come across.  I then asked them to create their own pages.  The only additional guidance was to experiment with as many of the tags as possible and to be creative.

I know that this is a very simple lesson; however, it covers quite a lot of the ‘essential’ tags and also allows every pupil to create their own pages.  Feel free to use the pages available to download using the links below.  (some formatting has been lost after converting to googledocs)

Green  /  Amber  /  Red

Worksheet for BBC Panorama Computer Game Addiction video

Whilst I know that the programme was rather biased against computer games, it is still a very interesting programme that pupils could get a lot out of.  In our previous lesson we had discussed addiction and I even set up a little pacman test exercise to see how easy it was to get addicted.  A lot of what was discussed could be summarised as the pupils believing that addiction stemmed from the fact that they wanted to get a better score than their peers and would therefore continue playing until they achieved this.  I know that Ihave massively over simplified this, but I think there is some mileage to that point.

Anyway, to the point of this post, please use the Google doc below if you think it is of use in your class.  At the top of the page are three links; the first and third are links to some interesting work done by Robbie Cooper; whilst the second is the link to the Panorama video.  Enjoy – feedback is always welcome!