In today’s session we looked at the changes in the revised National Curriculum, and the changes to the ICT curriculum. The first bignc change is that ICT is no longer called ICT, it is now called Computing. In the revised National Curriculum, children are expected to learn many different skills related to computing, for example: coding, decoding, debugging. The children need to know a large amount of computing vocabulary, for example: algorithms (instructions for program), and decomposition (the parts to the program).

There are two different types of programming; plugged and unplugged. Plugged programming related to technology and the use of something electronic (for example: using iPads or bee-bots). Unplugged related to not using an technology (for example: programming a teacher/child to do something with a set of instructions).

There are many different apps that can be used in the classroom to help to teach programming, and also to help develop skills with programming. There are apps for the Early Years all the way up to the end of Key Stage Two. In the Early Years, simple programming is introduced, for example: sorting, programming teachers to make a sandwich by giving step by step instructions, and general approaches to problem solving not just related to ICT. Often in the Early Years, more physical representations of programming is used, for example: Bee-bots and floor turtles. Children then go on to explore different apps and programs, and vocabulary is introduced so that children can begin to understand the terminology. This continues throughout the Key Stages, with children constantly developing their programming skills.  “A high-quality computing education equips pupils to understand and change the world through logical thinking and creativity, including by making links with mathematics, science, and design and technology” (Revised National Curriculum, 2013, Page 188), the skills learned in computing can be used in different subjects across the curriculum, and will assist learning and development in other countries.

Here is an example video of children instructing a teacher to make a sandwich, this is an example of an unplugged activity (a very simple way of exploring programming and algorithms).

Review of apps used in session:

beebotBee-Bots: the Bee-Bots are often used in the Early Stages of learning programming. The Bee-Bots are image (7)very physical and hands on pieces of technology, and involve the children getting stuck into the activity. The Bee-Bots would need to be demonstrated to the children, and would need to be modelled well before the children could use them independently. The Bee-Bots can be used across the curriculum, for example: in phonics (program the Bee-Bot to travel to a certain phoneme or digraph), and mathematics (using for equations, angels, or shapes); the picture on the left shows myself using the Bee-Bot during the session, and using a mat with numbers 1-10, I was using the Bee-Bot and mat to show number bonds to 10. The only negative about the Bee-Bots, is that they remember each step you have previously given them, so it is important children understand that they must clear instructions before completing a new set of instructions, but this small issue could be overcome with clear modelling of how to use the Bee-Bots correctly.  The Bee-Bots are a good link between the physical representation of programming, before using programs on the iPads or computer. If children understand how to use Bee-Bots, it is more likely that there will be a smooth transition between the floor Bee-Bots, and the Bee-Bot app on the iPads.app

Bee-Bot App: The Bee-Bot app is a bit more complicated than the real Bee-Bot, for example there is a clear maze that the children have to go through to get the bee to the flower. I think children would need to have guidance on how to use the app, but would then be able to use the app independently. There are different levels so that children can develop their skills at their own rate.The slightly confusing thing is that, if the bee is facing a different way, the arrows may get slightly confusing, for example: the children may not know if the arrow facing the top of the screen is to go up or to go forward, but I believe that children would be able to figure this out quickly. The app is the same as the floor Bee-Bot, because you must clear the steps before starting again, but if the children have had enough experience with the floor Bee-Bot, they should be able to transfer their skills to using the Bee-Bot app. Certain levels on the Bee-Bot would be too complicated for some children in the EYFS, and even possibly KS1, but the children would be able to still practice with the very basic levels. I really like the app as it can be seen as a game, so children are learning whilst enjoying themselves at the same time.

Kodable: I really like the Kodable app, and really enjoyed using it. The Kodable app asks details about the person using the app, for example: it asks your name, age, and gender, which makes it feel more personal, and the app is the differentiated according to age. The Kodable app is much easier than using the Bee-Bot app, as you have to follow a clear path to get the coins. I like the app as I believe this is a game that children will be able to pick up independently, and would be able to progress through the levels without too many issues. The app just says ‘uh oh’ if you get something wrong, and shows you where you have gone wrong, which would hopefully lead to children not making a similar mistake again. I also like the app because you can also see your previous steps when using Kodable, and can see the algorithm as a whole, which you cannot do on some of the other apps I have experimented with. I would definitely consider using this app in the classroom, particularly in the continuous provision.

daisy

Daisy Dinosaur: The daisy dinosaur app is very simple to use, as the app has very basic moves and simple instructions to follow. The children using this app would have to be able to read, so this may not be suitable for some children in the EYFS, but would be suitable for any child who could read or even children who are beginning to blend words. I think this app is much easier than the Bee-Bot app, as there are no up and down commands, just left and right (along with jump and spin). The app allows you to see the steps as an algorithm, and shows you ways in which an algorithm may be written. There are 5 challenges to Daisy Dinosaur before going on to free play, I think this app would be more beneficial to children if there were more levels for children to practise following instructions related to algorithms. I believe this app is a good starter tool for children to be introduced to different stages of coding, and I would consider using this in the EYFS and KS1.

Scratch & Scratch Junior: Unfortunately, I was only able to explore the programs for around 10 minutes each, which for me,scratch was not enough time to be able to make a decision on whether or not I like the apps and would use them in the classroom. I will explore these apps more in the future, and then consider using them with children. However, from the short time I did have on the programs, I actually found them quite difficult to use, and believe that there would need to be a lot of guidance when using the programs and plenty of modelling before using. However, I like that there are plenty of different activities that can be completed on both Scratch and Scratch Junior. On Scratch Junior, there are no words, which I think could be slightly confusing for some children, but also think this could be beneficial for children who are less developed in their reading skills. I think these apps would be great to use with older children, as the children would have been introduced to the concepts in programming, and would therefore have a better understanding when using the programs. I am looking forward to using Scratch and Scratch Junior in the near future to gain a better understanding of how to use the programs in the classroom.

Barefoot Computing: The website, Barefoot Computing, offers a wide range of resources for teachers to use in the classroom, related to lots of different areas of computing. The Barefoot Computing offers a range of plugged and unplugged activities and resources, including: lesson plans, assessment opportunities and clear instructions on how to approach teaching the different topics related to computing. There are many different resources available to teach in Key Stage One, here are some examples: Sharing sweetsBee-Bot TinkeringSpelling Rules AlgorithmCrazy Character Algorithm. There are also plenty of resources for Key Stage Two.

During the session my group looked at the resources, ‘Bee-Bots Tinkering’, tinkering means exploring and experimenting with something. The online resources offered a lot of guidance for this particular activity, including starter activities, main activities, plenaries, timings, objectives and curriculum links. The resource also offers an understanding of the concepts and approaches that children will come across when using the KS1 Bee-Bots tinkering resources. The children would look at algorithms (the steps and instructions for the Bee-Bot) and Debugging (correcting the Bee-Bot if something goes wrong). The resource offers plenty of information for teachers, to be able to feel confident to teach computing. The picture of the left from the Barefoot Computing website shows different information for teachers about the Bee-Bots.

 Further Reading:
Algorithms and Computational Thinking in KS1 in Bird, J., Caldwell, H. and Mayne, P. (2014) Lessons in Teaching Primary Computing. Sage, London.
The first sentence in this chapter summed up my thoughts about terminology; “Although terminology is used for clarification, it can also serve to be a hindrance to embracing new ideas”. I believe that in some cases, introducing children to new terminology and a new concept at the same time, can often cause children not misunderstand the concept due to the new terminology. “Technical terminology is understandable to pupils if it is used in context”, this comment suggests that in some situations it is important for children to be able to understand the concept before understanding and adding in the terminology. I think this is a key issue that teachers need to consider when teaching all subjects not just computing.

Additional Further Reading: An article in the Guardian, has given some interesting statistics about parents and their knowledge of changes in the curriculum: A survey of 1,020 parents of 5-18 year-olds in England commissioned by BCS, found that 60% were unaware or unsure about the changes to the curriculum. I think this statistic is far too high and that more needs to be done to ensure parents can understand the different changes to the curriculum, to ensure parents feel comfortable to be able to extend their child’s learning at home.
When completing further reading: I came across: Primary Teachers Guide for teaching computing, which I found extremely useful in explaining the different aspects of computing teaching, and I will use this guide in the future to assist with my teaching of computing.

Reflection:
At first, I found this session extremely daunting, as I was not confident in teaching ICT in the previous curriculum, so it worried me that I had to learn all the new information from the Revised Curriculum, as well as being able to teach the revised curriculum to children. I expected to come out of the session feeling anxious about teaching computing, however the session has made me feel less anxious, and maybe even slightly more confident about teaching computing, particularly programming. After thinking about my previous placements, I have seen programming teaching take place in several different settings and just not realised what I was seeing. For example: I have seen Bee-Bots used in placement, but thought this was linked to mathematics, and I have seen instruction based lessons, and thought this was linked to literacy rather than computing. After this session, I know see how the skills learned in computing can be used across the curriculum, and vice versa. I am now looking forward to teaching my first computing lesson as a NQT.



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