The joys of blogging!

This post aims to serve two purposes. It is partly aimed at meeting the university assignment criteria that this blog was originally set up as part of. This requires proof of “other’s engagement” and I hope this post provides evidence towards this.

But most importantly, this post is to say thank you to everyone who has visited and commented on my blog – I’m glad you have found it useful! Some highlights from outside the blog have included being featured in the ScratchEd Weekly Roundup and being “scooped” as part of someone’s Scoop.it site.

I have also received some great messages on Twitter, alongside being re-tweeted by a whole host of people. This lovely message is one of my favourite:

I think the experience since “going live” has emphasised to me the benefits of blogging. Blogging provides an opportunity to share ideas with the internet and receive comments and feedback from people from all over the world. I can imagine how excited children must feel when someone comments on their blogs and I will definitely comment on different school blogs in the future.

One way that schools can ensure their blogs get the publicity they deserve is through signing up to QuadBlogging.  The QuadBlogging website states that in the last year 100,000 pupils in 40 countries have been involved in the scheme. There is a great video on Youtube that outlines the process: 

Furthermore, my colleague, Lindsay Morris has provided some more insights into Quadblogging on her blog and I suggest you check it out. 

In the spirit of sharing I wanted to finish this post with a song that was recommended by TES SEN on Twitter, who posted a link that contains lots of songs that include Makaton signing. This particular song is being sung by some of the people from Shabang. The TES website states that this could be a great ice-breaker or introductions song, which I think ties in with the theme of this blog update. Plus, I think it’s a really catchy tune that could be used in special or mainstream settings. Enjoy!

Session 3: Teaching computer programming in the classroom

Following on from last week, Kerry, Lindsay and I worked together to produce a unit of work using Scratch. The unit of work is aimed at Year 6 children, as their final ICT project before moving to secondary school.

Overall unit objective: We are learning to create an animated game. 

Part 1: Testing games

In the first activity the children are to work in mixed ability pairs to play a range of games from the sqowrl set. They are to add words about what makes a good game to the class answer garden. Children can all work on the class answer garden at the same time, with the words presented updating in real time. If a child likes someone else’s word they can click on it and then re-submit it. This makes the word bigger, showing that more people agree with this opinion.

Ingredients of a good game… at AnswerGarden.ch.

The answer garden can be turned into a word cloud (the one in this blog post was made in wordle). The class can discuss the different words that they have come up with together to ascertain what the most important ingredients of a video game are.

Part 2: Fish tank game

Discuss as a class how video games are created.

Introduce the children to Scratch. Go through how to create a simple fish tank game.  Get the children to work in friendship pairs. Provide the children with the online video demo of the game, so that they can refer to it when making it in their pairs.

When the children have created their fish tank game they can upload it to the Scratch website and to a class sqworl link (containing the games made by the different pairs). They can then select different scratch card activities to help them further explore the potential of Scratch.

Part 3: The Dragons’ Den

Show the children the Morfo video of Duncan Bannatyne setting the challenge for the children by clicking on this link:  The Dragon’s Task. When creating Duncan Bannatyne’s speech we used the voice changer built into the app to make his voice have a lower pitch (to disguise our own); however on reflection this can make it difficult to ascertain what is being said. It would be great if future versions of the app had different degrees of voice changing, so that the low-pitch wasn’t too low and the hi-pitch wasn’t too squeaky.

Generate success criteria for computer games with the children using Spicynodes. The children could have a baseline target for how many of the different elements to include in their games, for example 3. Here’s an example of a success criteria we created earlier:

Part 4: Making games

Children work in friendship pairs to create their games. They use wallwisher as a working wall to document their ideas and queries. We liked the idea of this in principle, but we found that in practise it was clunky and we’d prefer to have it for refernce at all times – not just in ICT.

Part 5: Poll rating

In the final stage of the unit of work the children present the work to a panel of Dragons. This can be supported with a poll on the class blog for children to vote for their favourite game.