Archive for the ‘Creative Computing’


Creative Computing

Computing

In this session we looked at where computer science fits into the National Curriculum (2013) and how we can introduce computing skills to children in the early years and KS1. ‘Computing‘ as it is now known replaces the term ICT and its purpose of study is to equip children to use ‘computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world’ (NC, 2013).

There is a much deeper level of thinking into how digital systems work and how to use this knowledge to create simple and more complex programming in order to  become more digital literate in our highly evolving technological world. I must admit that I was a little apprehensive with words such as ‘computational thinking, algorithms, debug and programming’ and what these terms actually meant, so I thought I would increase my own subject knowledge and find out a little more about the new ‘computing terminology’. I recommend looking at the BBC’s Bitesize Computing Science and ICT site as it unpicks the language of computing into simplistic terms.

p025xg29 bbc bitesize

Whilst researching computing I found a really useful guide for primary teachers on Computing in the National Curriculum. According to Naace (2013) the term:

cthead

 

Computational thinking is a way of thinking and problem solving that uses computer science techniques, a term which was first used by Seymour Papert. I really like the thought process behind computational thinking in that it is an  important skill for pupils to to develop their techniques and be creative, allowing them to feel empowered.

 

An Algorithm is a precisely defined procedure – a sequence of instructions, or a set of rules for performing a task

To Debug is finding and fixing/removing errors or mistakes in programming

Programming means the process of writing a computer program.

The National Curriculum (2013) states that pupils should be taught to code, create and debug simple programs some of which I will explore below.   

To look into detail what pupils should be taught in KS1/2 in Computing you can access the National Curriculum in England: Computing programmes of study by clicking on the link.

 

We also looked at how children in the Early Year Foundation Stage (EYFS, 2013) do computing without using a computer, for example giving another child a set of instructions to move from a to b (the beginnings of simple programming) this is called unplugged learning before they move onto programming a floor robot such as a Beebot (this shows how pupils have progressed from a unplugged activity to a plugged activity by programming the Beebot). Below is a short video on an unplugged activity ‘Mr Bagge the Sandwich Bot’ where the children are giving the instructions to the teacher on how to make a sandwich.

 

 

teaching kids to code

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a look at coding

We had an opportunity to explore a range of iPad apps in the session such as  ‘Scratch Junior, Daisy the Dinosaur and Move the Turtle as well as looking at floor  robots such as the Bee-bots and if that was no enough we were being creative with  Lego models and programming them to move. As you can see our sessions are  very hands on and as well as learning about new ideas to use in our teaching  practice we get to have fun as well!

These apps can help teach children (and adults!!) to learn basic programming in a fun an interactive way.

 

ipad apps

 

I had a look at ‘Daisy the Dinosaur’ which is a fun free app. I found  it very simple to use and  can see how children would enjoy programming Daisy to move, spin and jump up  and down!  You simply drag and drop a sequence of instructions and see what happens, I think that children in the Early Years  could get to grips with this quite easily. See the example below

 

daisy the dinosaur coding

Click on this link and it will take you a teacher tutorial on how to navigate round this simple coding app.

 

I also explored Scratch Jr which is more advanced than ‘Daisy the Dinosaur’ it enables the user to create animations, add sounds, create games and stories. It is very easy and user friendly and you get to grips with it easily once you have had a practice, this app is accessible for younger children. I made my sprite (the cat) move and jump up and down on the bed and say hi! I would recommended the more advanced version of Scratch for older children as it is more complicated and does need to be modelled and scaffolded. I feel that children would need to add or make changes to an existing programme intially  in order to get to grips with the it before creating one of their own.

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Bee-bots App and Floor Robot

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The Bee-bot app has been developed from a personal favourite of mine, the Bee-bot robot. This app supports young children to develop their directional language skills through programming a set of sequences (an algorithm) such as  forwards, backwards, left and right turn through 90 degree turns into the robot. In my last placement I used Bee-bots with Year 1’s and the maths lesson was very enjoyable as it brought ‘giving directions using the Bee-bot to life!’  The children really enjoyed the physicality of handling the Bee-bots aswell as the challenge of predicting, planning and programming the Bee-bot with a sequence of directions to get the bananas to the hungry monkey. There is no end to using Bee-bots across the curriculum areas, you can even make the Beebots dance!

 

 

ITSBOT

 

Whilst browsing I found a Prezi courtesy of Emily Brown (2013) which shares some excellent ideas for using Bee-bots across the curriculum for children in the early years and Key Stage 1. Click on the Link

 

 

 

Having explored both the Bee-bot app  and the floor robot I would recommend that children practice and become familiar with the floor robot first, as I found the app to be a little tricky to do using one continuous instruction. I also found there to be an issue with the arrows on the Bee-bot app which you need to get to grips with, if the Bee-bot if facing down you need to press the forward arrow to make it move forward, this may confuse the children and practice may be required. As with the floor robot that you need to remember to clear it to proceed if completing separate instructions.  On the plus side the app is more challenging and is a good way way to see progression in children’s learning as it has different levels which are timed and rewarded with stars as an incentive.

 

Web Based coding with Purple Mash

Purple Mash has computing focused activities based on coding called  2Code. The  site has teaching tutorials and is easy to navigate around. After exploring the site I would say that it is okay to use and has similar features to other coding applications (such as Espresso Coding) however, my opinion is that Scratch is a far easier format to use. To begin with the 2Code activities are simple to do and require one or two sequences. However, as the challenges increase in difficulty, the coding sequences become more complex as does the language, this is where I feel it becomes more geared towards older children in KS2 as there are many more instructions to follow and information to absorb and process. I had a go at Jumping Monkey which was fairly easy to use once you got to grips with it. I enjoyed the challenges and feel that children would be able to increase their confidence and build on their understanding of coding when using 2Code over a series of sessions.

 

 

Barefoot-logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of today’s session we were introduced to the ‘Barefoot Computing Project‘ which is an excellent teaching project that is funded by the Department of Education. It is a free site full of practical resources to support primary teachers with the new ‘Computing Curriculum’, one I will be visiting once I commence my teaching practice. The site is packed full of downloadable activity ideas that are detailed with a complete lesson activity and include:

– Programming activities

– Recommended year group

– Curriculum links

– Learning Intentions/Outcomes

– Resources required

– Lesson outline/timings

– Assessment opportunities

– Teaching notes

…. the list is endless!!! And if like me lack confidence in teaching Computing the guidance information that the site provides will instill confidence within you to teach Computing successfully, this site is really informative well worth taking a look.

As a group we were tasked to evaluate an activity from the sites Key Stage 1 Exemplar Activities. I paired with my partner Amisha and we  explored Bee-bots 1,2,3 programming. This activity requires children to create an algorithm to draw the shape of a numeral. On evaluating the activity – The programming side of the activity involves taking the algorithm created by the children and using it to program a Bee-Bot to draw a numeral (a marker pen is attached to the front of the Bee-Bot). This activity links with Computing and Mathematics (position and direction) and is a problem solving and collaborative activity with lots of talk opportunities for the children throughout the activity. The children first write the steps down on a whiteboard to create an algorithm prior to programming the Bee-Bot. We felt children would really be engrossed in the activity as it requires quite a few steps, it is also an opportunity for the children to self assess and to see if the algorithm they have created matches the numeral. See the example below 

KS1_beebot_123_3_draw1_algorithm

 

Reading

I asked myself a question …… We all know that children enjoy technology and can spend an endless amount of time using them at their leisure but do children need to learn to code?

I look into this a little further and came across an interesting article by the BBC that answered some of my doubts.  The article suggests that children do need to learn to code form an early age as we as a society have become ‘more and more governed by technology ‘. It goes on to discuss  how coding can teach ‘logical thinking’ by breaking things down into steps and looking beneath the device. I think this quote sums up the article quite well and why learning to code is an important skill, 

“The tools we have to create content today are amazing but we want people who will create the tools of tomorrow and they are going to be the ones that open up the box and tweak it” (BBC, 2014)

You can click on this link to read the full article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29145904

An article of interest whist browsing was an informative Prezi on Physical Computing by Graham Hastings (2014). It links in well with this weeks session. The Prezi shares information on how control actually helps children develop the skills, language and logical reasoning skills. Offers a variety of applications/programs (like Flowoll) that can be used, which lend themselves to programming, including use existing resources like Bee-bots. The Prezi is meticulously created detailing how the needs of the DFES Programmes of Study for Computing (2014) can be met. Would definitely recommend a view of the full presentation to gain further insight.

And finally….

In today’s session the Teachers Standards which are addressed within this session are:

TS3– Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge (have a secure knowledge of the relevant subject(s) and curriculum areas, foster and maintain pupils’ interest in the subject)

TS4– Plan and teach well structured lessons (impart knowledge and develop understanding, promote a love of learning and children’s intellectual curiosity)

 

 

 

 

References

Berry, M. (2013). Computing in the National Curriculum- A guide for primary teachers. Available: http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/data/uploads/CASPrimaryComputing.pdf.  Last accessed 16th Oct 2014.

Department for Education. (2013). National curriculum in England: computing programmes of study. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-computing-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-computing-programmes-of-study. Last accessed 12th Oct 2014.

Wakefield, J. (2014). Does a five-year-old need to learn how to code?.Available: http://http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29145904. Last accessed 18th Oct 2014.