During session 3, we looked at what is included within the new computing curriculum, as well as how this can be taught within the Early Years and KS1.
First, we discussed how programming resources could be used to teach programming, for example BeeBots.
[Image: http://www.tts-group.co.uk/_RMVirtual/Media/TTS/Images/ITSBOT_18_large.jpg. Accessed 03/11/14].
Beebots allow the children to programme the object using directional arrows. Floor maps can be used to extend the children’s knowledge of Beebots once they have mastered the arrows, by giving them a starting position and asking them to move the Beebot to another area on the map. One problem with Beebots is having to press clear in between each set of instructions, which in experience have noticed that children sometimes struggle to remember.
We also discussed thinking about computing without actually using a computer, which is called ‘unplugged learning’. Examples of this could be:
- How to make a jam sandwich – this lets the children think in their minds all the steps needed to make a sandwich, thinking of all the small details, and it helps them to realise that each step is important! For example, if we say put the knife in the jam, but we have not got the knife out of the draw, then that step is impossible!
- Think about all the controllers the children already use – For example children may already know how to use a remote control for the television, so they understand the steps needed to change the channels etc, so this will already give them a good start to programming other objects.
- Simon Says – A fun game to get children used to following commands / instructions, and making the link that you have to say simon says before doing the action, just as you have to press the arrows and go to make the Beebot move.
Here is a video modelling the jam sandwich activity on how this could be carried out by a teacher.
We then looked at iPad apps which also help the children master the idea of commuting, using programming skills. Some of these were:
- A.L.E.X – This is an App with a robot named A.L.E.X, where the children have to use a series of directional arrows to get the robot from the beginning to the end. At the beginning it is very simple, however it gets quite complicated as the levels grow, and even I struggled to get my head around which way I needed to turn the robot in some situations. Because of this, I feel the app would be suitable for Key stage 1 to carry out independently and work their way through the sessions, however in the Early Years I feel the children may when the levels become more difficult.
- [Image: http://carlispina.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/photo-11.png Accessed 03/11/14].
- Scratch Jr – This is an App which is very Early Years friendly, where the children can simply create their own stories and games. Click here to see how to use Scratch Jr
As well as iPad apps, there are also Computer activities that can help with computing, such as:
- Purple Mash – Purple mash has a whole section on computing, with a range of different activities for children to practice their programming. For example, 2Go, which is a game where the children can choose a coloured pen, click the directional arrow and choose how many times they want it to go for, and the pen automatically draws. Using this, the children can watch as their programming skills draw a colourful picture:
- Scratch – This app is an online website which allows children to use activities which are already made, go into their ‘script’ and change things around to create a new character etc. Dance Party on Scratch is a brilliant, fun game where children can add characters to the party and make them dance in different ways. :
Coding at school: a parent’s guide to England’s new computing curriculum, by the Guardian.
This article discusses the reason for the new curriculum as filling the gap between the amount of new jobs needing computing skills, but the lack of skills people have to fill these jobs. They class this as the ‘long-term solution’.
When surveying 1,020 parents of 5-18 year old children, the results were that 60% did not know about the changes in the National Curriculum, taking the ICT out and replacing this with computing.
“ICT used to focus purely on computer literacy – teaching pupils, over and over again, how to word-process, how to work a spreadsheet, how to use programs already creaking into obsolescence; about as much use as teaching children to send a telex or travel in a zeppelin” (Michael Gove, in the Article).
Overall, the idea is teaching the children how a computer works, rather than how to work a computer. Computer Science is the new age of the ‘ICT’ curriculum, giving children a chance to learn how to make their own programmes and make it work in a way that they want it to.