Computing on placement…. The new national curriculum

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Posted by Craig | Posted in Computing, Digital Literacy | Posted on February 1, 2015

How do teachers use ICT as a separate lesson? What do they cover?

Each class teacher needs to ensure that their class have a 1 hour discrete computing lesson each week. The school use the Nottinghamshire computing framework for the basis and this breaks down the curriculum  into the different sub sections that children need to learn. Key stage 1 and key stage 2 teachers will plan the coverage of the curriculum together using the Notts. framework and this ensures that all areas are covered in the curriculum without certain areas being covered more than twice. Key stage 1 and lower key stage 2 teachers do use lots of unplugged activities and thus computing lessons do not always happen within the school’s ICT suite.  My mentor tries to incorporate computing into English and maths as a way of enhancing the core subjects and allowing children to practice and solidify the skills they have learnt on education games and assessment programmes. The school have a strong ethos about e-safety and every half term the school have an e-safety day where all children are taught about keeping safe online. The teacher’s are also encouraged to talk about e-safety with their children during computing lessons.

Schools ICT suite

Schools ICT suite

How do the teachers incorporate the use of ICT in lessons?

Teachers use ICT to give whole class input and undertake whole class plenaries. This is done through the use of Interactive Whiteboards and children also use these to select whether they are having school dinners or packed lunches at the beginning of the day. Teachers try to make the IWB activities child led, where children can come and use the board and this allows learning to be more engaging and interactive and thus allows children to become more confident and focused on the subject. The interactive whiteboard is also used to model activities to the children about what they will be completing especially in the lower years. The school also use cameras and these are used to take pictures of children completing work or also of the children’s completed work and these are used for assessment purposes or to complete a classroom display. In P.E the teachers regularly use music for warm-ups to engage the children and also get them moving. Within my own class this is very successful. Outside of lessons the teachers set children homework challenges online, on programmes such as active learning (Abacus) and children can complete these at home to extend and solidify their learning and progress. The school do not use computing objectives in other subjects that contain computing. They only use computing objectives during computing lessons and see computing in other lessons as an added bonus to allow children to gain more confidence in its use and to enhance learning.

download (2)

How are the school planning for the new national curriculum?

 The schools ICT leader is currently leading the change and as given each teacher a copy of the Nottinghamshire Computing Framework. As stated above each key stage are working together to make sure all areas of the curriculum are covered and not repeated too much that learning becomes boring. In terms of updating the resources the ICT leader as used her budget and the guidelines from the Computing Framework to purchase resources that are suitable for the curriculum and all children. For example, Beebots for key stage 1 children to complete the new programming curriculum. The leader as also signed up to the purple mash website and this includes a range of activities that each teacher as access to in order to meet the needs of their class and the curriculum aims. The class teachers are still adapting to this new software.

 How does technology provide different teaching strategies/learning styles in the school?

Visual

The teachers  across the year groups use images, videos of concrete objects in subjects such as maths and English that help to make learning memorable. The visual images have a strong impact especially in mathematics where children can clearly visualise what is happening when they count. For example, objects moving so they know they have been counted. In this way the children learn a range of strategies they can use in their own work. In English some teachers use images and videos to inspire children’s writing and give them different ideas about their word choices and sentence types. Children here are encouraged to use more powerful and effective verbs. Within geography my mentor used the interactive whiteboard to show children google earth and the school and then used this to help children read and understand aerial photo’s. This highlights the importance of the IWB for modelling, helping children’s learning and progression

Auditory

The teacher uses soundscapes and music during lesson specifically P.E lessons as described above. These encourage children to take part and thus help with their fitness and confidence. In maths and phonics teachers use music videos that children sing along to that help them with their counting and application of the phonemes they have learnt. Thus auditory is good for applying skills and encouraging children to join in.

Kinaesthetic

The school do not have individual tablets that each child can use and therefore the kinaesthetic aspect comes from the teacher using child led activities on the Interactive Whiteboard. Children will come up to the front and move objects when instructed by the teacher and this helps to keep children engaged and focused and also gives them the opportunity to apply the skills being taught whilst allowing the teacher to assess if children have understood what it being asked. In this way the teacher can gauge if children need further help.

Conclusion

 In conclusion the school are just adapting to the new curriculum and they have a 2 year process in which they hope to have the curriculum securely in place. The ICT leader is working hard to update her own subject knowledge and currently is looking at digital literacy and the different aspects that this involves.

 

 

Google form (Your turn to help and reflect!!!)

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Posted by Craig | Posted in Computing, Digital Literacy, PSHE, Religious Education | Posted on December 2, 2014

 

Many thanks once again for reading this blog. I hope it has offered you lots of advise and analysis on the different areas of computing, religious education and PSHE in primary education. Would you please take a couple minutes of your time to help me improve my own knowledge, understanding and blogging skills by giving your own views on the different blog posts. Thank you in advance!!

Craig.

Reflecting on the last year!!!

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Posted by Craig | Posted in Computing, PSHE, Religious Education | Posted on November 30, 2014

http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-because-it-s-time-to-say-goodbye/

http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-because-it-s-time-to-say-goodbye/

Well that’s it!! Computing and R.E./PSHE have now finished. I have really enjoyed sharing my experiences with you this year and feel that I have certainly developed my subject knowledge, skills, understanding of teaching and assessment and also how to make lessons fun and engaging. All the lessons ideas I have created either individually or collaboratively, hopefully highlight these and provide you with ideas for what you can create to keep your own lessons fund and engaging. After the two years I feel ready to go and teach our future generation to ensure they have the best possible chance to succeed in the ever growing technological and multi-cultural society.

At the beginning of this year I set myself targets on what I would like to develop and include my blog. To refresh your memory, here they are:

  • continue to talk about a range of programmes and activities that can be used to deepen understanding
  • talk about the pedagogy of each subject (both my own ideas and those from literature)
  • think about how learning can be assessed
  • to read a wide range of literature that will help to develop my own subject knowledge
  • to contribute to different group tasks and reflect on their appropriateness for the primary classroom
  • to use a range of blog tools to demonstrate my subject understanding and knowledge

I feel that I have certainly met all these targets and hopefully my blog posts reflect this. I would like to leave you with the following video on teaching ans assessment strategies that can be used in computing.


I have even become a digital leader and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who is either training to be a teacher or already an experienced teacher themselves. Furthermore, I would recommend schools setting up this scheme for their own students. I would also like to recommend a collaborative approach for teachers that will help them to find a range of resources that they can use in their classes. This could be set up in a school or even the local area so a wide range of schools can access the resources. The collaborative approach we have used this year (resource bank) will definitely be something that I use when I am teaching to give me a range of ideas.

Well this is not quite the last blog post. It would be really nice to get your views on two really engaging and increasingly important subjects, so my next blog post, which I promise will be my last contains a google form for you to give your own input. 

Craig!

On the road to becoming a digital leader…

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Posted by Craig | Posted in Computing, Digital Literacy | Posted on November 28, 2014

 

Recently at the university I volunteered to become part of the ‘Digital Leaders’ team. This would allow me to extend my experience of using computing for educational purposes and will also give me experience that would allow me to become a computing leader within primary schools; a major aim of mine, once I qualify. Today we were very lucky to have twelve year 5 and 6 students join us from a local Northamptonshire Primary School, Standens Barn (picture below). The children themselves are known as digital leaders in their school and regularly attend after school clubs to extend their knowledge, understanding and skills in computing. The thought of having digital leaders within primary schools really excites me and I think it is an excellent way to raise the image of computing and also allow children to explore something very different from normal classroom procedures. It also allows them to gain experience and confidence in using a very popular phenomenon at the current moment and something that will definitely remain for many years to come.

The 12 digital leaders from Standens Barn

The 12 digital leaders from Standens Barn

The children began by telling us the different ways that they learnt to use computing at school. One of the teaching strategies discussed really got my attention. At school the children talked about how their teacher allowed them to explore new apps before actually learning how to use them and there tools. The children then had to rate the app by talking about the benefits and drawbacks and then they had to say whether they would recommend it and why. I thought this was an excellent way to allow children to learn skills and decide upon their preferences and links very closely to the exploration method I have talked about on my previous computing blog posts. In this way the children can collate a list of different programmes they like and select from these to show their ability to evaluate programmes and then use a wide range of them.

What are digital leaders?

Digital Leaders within schools are pupils who want to learn more about computing. They from a team of students who regularly explore computing and learn higher skills in order to evaluate programmes and help other students and teachers.  Bird et al.(2014, p.33) provide an example of how digital leaders can be utilised by helping younger children to use programmes and apps. I think this is an excellent way to extend learning and also allows children to work with different people and gain vital social skills. This was a technique used by Standens Barn Primary and something that all the children talked about with great enthusiasm. Furthermore, Bird et al. (2014, p.69) state that many schools are introducing digital leaders to help teachers introduce technology to other children, and therefore this is beginning to become widespread. However, what lessons do those children miss to undertake this type of teaching?It is important that these children are not withdrawn from their own subjects and curriculum and therefore careful thought needs to be given to when this will happen.

Blackburn (2013) shares other ways that digital leaders can help:

  • Blogging about what they have been doing
  • Supporting ICT staff meetings
  • Running parent workshops
  • Reaseraching and reviewing new technologies
  • Create their own resource bank for teachers to use

Standens Barn Primary has their own blog that the digital leaders keep up to date with information about what they have been learning and doing in school along with examples of what they have been doing in their roles as the digital leaders. Moreover, Rising Stars (2014) state that children can offer better explanations to younger children about the new apps than what teachers can. This therefore provides a strong rationale to include digital leaders within your school.

From the above ideas and benefits, I thought it would be nice to add my own idea. With computing becoming a major part of life it is important that we recognise the subject and begin to incorporate more into school life. The headteacher of Standens Barn Primary, who was very passionate about computing and its place within the school curriculum, felt that it was becoming a core subject due to its wide use in the world today and this is something that I agree with. I would like to put forward that I think the digital leader could create their own after school or lunchtime computing club. They could plan this with the computing leader in the school and then during the sessions they could show the children how to use the apps and what they could create. They could even work one to one or in pairs with the children who attend to create a project. In this way the children do not need to be taken out of their own lessons. However, it as to be asked how many people will attend the club. I really liked the image below as I felt it gives vital information of how digital leaders can be incorporated in the school.

http://www.digitalclassrooms.co.uk/using-primary-aged-digital-leaders/

http://www.digitalclassrooms.co.uk/using-primary-aged-digital-leaders/

The activities

Aim: The children will create a small presentation using image or animation from the pictures they take on their iPads whilst walking around the university.

For the first activity the children walked around the university campus armed with a map, a trail sheet, little people of their choice and the iPads. The children used geography mapping skills to find the different points on the trail and then answered the questions that were wrote on the trail code they had been given at the start. The children at each station took photo’s of the little figures in the surroundings using the iPads  and these would be used back in the classroom to create the videos. In the classroom the children could choose from one of four apps; Puppet Pals HD, Green Screen, Shadow Puppets or I Movie. The children were placed with one of the adult digital leaders and sent away to create their own presentation using the pictures they had taken on their journey. I was placed with a year 6 child, David.

How did we decide upon our presentation?

  1. We looked at photos that David had taken and then edited them
  2. David decided that he would like to use the iMovie app (Remember always try and make your teaching child-led)
  3. We then planned the iMovie trailer and David planned out his movie trailer using a storyboard (Cross-Curricular with English)
  4. From this David decided he wanted to create an horror movie and therefore we chose the horror movie theme on the iPad
  5. We then analysed the images that David would require and took more photo’s
  6. David then retrieved the pictures from the camera roll and then added the different pictures to the suitable points in the trailer
  7. David then added words to add effect to the trailer and also to emphasise the pictures he had chosen (Cross-Curricular with English – language choices and English)
  8. We then both watched the video and evaluated it
  9. David then changed two photos as they had been previously used.
  10. The trailer was complete – see below.

I thought David did extremely well and our creation was very impressive. During my time when working with David, I noticed he was wearing a special badge on his uniform and when I looked round most of the children were wearing similar ones. These showed the different jobs that the children had with regards to computing. Some children were part of the blog team, whilst others were part of the computing team. I thought this was an excellent way to raise the image of children and also the children’s self-esteem. This will also be something that I will hope to implement in my won teaching and schools when I qualify. All in all the above activity highlighted how creative children can be and the vast ideas they can come up with when using technology. Please take a look at the other videos created by the children and the other adult digital leaders (Link here). The activity was very successful and clearly met the learning aim.

Reflection

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon with the children and it as further fueled my passion and determination to become a computing leader in schools. I have furthered my own knowledge and skills by learning how to use iMovie in more depth and learnt how simple it can be to change and add different photo’s or short video clips. I also liked the vast amount of different themes that could be chose and therefore this requires children to really think about the purpose of their movie or trailer and also about the audience. This is a really good activity and application to use in English lessons as it can really get children thinking about these two aspects and also mean that they have to evaluate and analyse their choices. In English this would be referred to as reading as writers/creators, which is a vital skill and using the iMovie app can help children to develop this further and look at something different from stories on paper. This once again highlights the strong cross-curricular links that can be made with computing. One thing I did learn from today was that when children have the skills and do not require any teaching input on the apps being used it is good to let the children explore, evaluate and create using the different tools on the programmes. However, whilst this is the best way to let children explore and broaden their knowledge we need to make sure they are on task and improving as they may become distracted or bored. Therefore, we must always have a challenge to engage the children. I would like to end on one really important note. Today, all the children had smiles on their face, were confident users of computing technology and software and also spoke enthusiastically about the subject. If this is something that the children in my class can do then I will know that I have done my job.

This is a video that the Standens Barn children and teachers completed after today’s session. Again highlighting another use of ICT, but in this way to help the children share their achievements and day with other people. This will help to raise their confidence, self-esteem and their sense of pride in their work. It can also promote strong home/school/community links.

References 

Bird, J., Caldwell, H. and Mayne, P. (2014) Lessons in Teaching Computing in Primary Schools. London: Learning Matters (SAGE).

Blackburn, S. (2013) Be Inspire by ICT in the Primary Classroom. BlogSpot [online]. Available from: http://beinspiredbyict.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/digital-leaders.html [Accessed 28th November 2014].

Rising Stars UK (2014) Getting Started with Digital Leaders: A practical guide [online]. Available from: http://www.risingstars-uk.com/uploads/publications/1420.pdf [28th November 2014].

E-safety (Part of session 6!!)…..

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Posted by Craig | Posted in Computing, Digital Literacy | Posted on November 26, 2014

Image taken from: http://birchwood.suffolk.dbprimary.com/suffolk/primary/birchwood/arenas/e-Safety

According to teacher standard 1 teachers should “establish a safe and stimulating environment for pupils, rooted in mutual respect” (Department for Education, 2011). With computing currently being promoted within the national curriculum and it becoming a major aspect in the life of young children, e-safety provides a vital aspect of this safety. Most of the year 6 children on placement had access to the internet with most of the children using messenger websites and playing online for some games, such as Minecraft. It is therefore vital that as a teacher we promote e-safety to establish a safe environment for children that will in turn give them confidence in using the internet. E-safety is recognised world wide and the importance to support and promote has been identified through the creation of the Safer Internet Day. This usually is promoted on  February 10th every year and its aims are to promote and teach children how to be safe on computers and mobile technologies. Usually the month before they publish lots of different resources that can be used in schools at all ages to help teach the subject and this is one of a few websites that I would recommend. Why not follow their twitter page for updates. Other websites are recommended below. 

Last year the Safer Internet Day used a topic that helped to bring everyone together as one in the fight against the dangers of the online network. This topic was called “Lets create a better internet together”. I think this would be an excellent thing to implement in primary school and can involve all children ranging from key stage 1 and 2 and in this way it will help to meet the national curriculum aims. However, e-safety should also be taught throughout the year to ensure it is reemphasised and children can progress their understanding and apply it in different situations.

Teaching Ideas

Wheeler (2005, p.83) highlights a model that can be used by teachers when thinking about activities that require internet access. He states a 4 step plan that can be used to think about the risks and how the problem can be resolved.I have added my own ideas and the below will certainly be something that I will utilise when teaching:

  • Step 1: Plan – What problems may arise? How will I teach this? How will I know if children have understood?
  • Step 2: Do – Write down the actions to each of the above and think how the ideas might be applied in the classroom
  • Step 3: Review – What did the children learn from that session?
  • Step 4: Reflect – Did this have the greatest impact? How could it be done differently?

I would like to share a couple of teaching ideas that I thought could be used to teach the important subject of e-safety:

  1. Scenarios – These can be given to the children in different forms. They could be questions posed by different characters that are similar to the children to from stories that the teacher can create and tell. The aim of these scenarios should be to provide a stimulus for detailed and reflective discussion to take place. These discussions may need to be followed by exploratory tasks where children need to find out more information. This could be furthered into role play and here children will be given opportunities to express their feelings and also give them a starting point should any problems ever arise in their lives.
  2. Question box – Children can regularly post worries or problems that they have online and these could be discussed during morning starters. The teacher could even post a weekly message and in this way e-safety can be discussed and reflected upon throughout the year.
  3. Allow children to create their own videos, posters and adverts explaining e-safety the importance and the action to take if needed. The posters could be posted around the school and the videos posted on a blog post on the internet that children can use at home should they become worried about anything online.
  4. Allow children to email each other in lessons acting as other people in a small drama role. Here in pairs the children could discuss what information they should share and what they should do when they feel something is not right. This gets children into the habit of looking after themselves online.

I came across the above video whilst researching information on e-safety. The video shows some aspects of e-safety without voice overs and therefore it would be really useful for further discussion in the classroom. I really liked how the video incorporated people from around the world and of different ages. This emphasises to the children that e-safety is a problem that can effect all people and it is something that they need to be aware of and have a good understanding of how to get help and spot the dangers. Another useful video that can be used in the classroom is below.

 

This is an excellent video as it is clearly aimed at children. The video offers good advice. The important parts are labelled below. In order to ensure children have got these messages it is important to question them about the content.

– Don’t give away your address or personal details online

– Be careful who you are talking you

– Make sure your information is private at all times.

Shipton (2007) of Sheffield Hallam University produced the following diagram to help teachers and schools think about their e-safety policies and teaching.

An overview of improving e-safety in primary schools

E-safety is not about restricting children but teaching them!!!

Some Statistics

Gurney-Read (2014) of the Guardian newspaper reported that 80% of parents regarded internet safety as important as lesson such as English and Mathematics. This is also stated by Wheeler (2005, p.80). This shows that society views e-safety as a vital topic. The NSPCC’s (2013) research highlighted that over 23% of the 1024, 11-12 year old’s questioned had been upset by something on social networking over the last year. More alarming 18% of these were scared in the following months.

In 2009 Ofsted realised the importance of e-safety through launching guidelines to report and grade e-safety during inspections. This was shortly followed by Ofsted’s 2010 report ‘Study of of the Safe use of new technologies’. Ofsted found that the following factors led to some schools being outstanding in e-safety teaching:

  • having an active approach
  • a close relationship between provision and pupils understanding
  • well established staff training which was monitored and evaluated
  • using ‘managed’ rather than ‘locked down’ systems
  • well planned and co
  • systematic reviewing and evaluation of e-safety policies
  • shared responsibility for provision
  • leaders, governors, staff and families working together to develop a clear strategy
  • excellent relationships with families
  • systematic training of staff

Good Resources

A number of websites offering e-safety advice and information are ChildNet and CBBC stay safe. I personally like the online resource bank on the ChildNet website, because these are adapted for the use in schools and also offer practical and engaging videos that can be used to inspire children to be safe. They also offer an alternate website that has another range of resources including scenario cards. These websites can also be used for children to find information out for themselves. This could be linked to point 3 on the teaching ideas and give children the information they require to place into their videos or adverts.

All in all, through promoting e-safety, we as teachers are able to teach children the vital computing curriculum aim by the end of key stage 2 that children should, “use technology safely, respectfully and responsibly; recognise acceptable/unacceptable behaviour; identify a range of ways to report concerns about content and contact” (Department for Education, 2013). It is also present in key stage 1 where children should, “use technology safely and respectfully, keeping personal information private; identify where to go for help and support when they have concerns about content or contact on the internet or other online technologies” (ibid).

My View as a Trainee Teacher

To say this research as been an eye-opener would be an understatement. Although, I realised that through the news and online twitter feeds e-safety was a big issues, I had not realised the impact it had upon children. I was shocked and saddened to see that 18% of children were scared and upset in the months after using social media.  I believe and it is my view as a teacher, children need to be taught and rules need to be put in place of social sites such as Facebook, because ICT is valuable aspect of teaching in modern times (Wheeler, 2005, p.81). Therefore, we can utilise it too the maximum providing children know how to be safe.We also have to be aware that many schools know have filters on their internet that will stop children from having problems at school. However, at home this will not exist and therefore it is vital that we teach children about e-safety. Furthermore, Metcalfe and Simpson (2012, p.126) state that if schools have strong home school links with the child’s parents/carers than the messages of e-safety can be shared meaning the same is taught at home, enhancing the learning and putting it into context. However, some parents may have little knowledge so I would recommend setting up a workshop that the parents can come along to and learn about e-safety. Why not let the children make and run these workshops themselves!!

Overall, we need children to be safe, and come next February, I  will fully be supporting the safer internet day and so should you!!!!!

http://www.saferinternetday.org/web/guest;jsessionid=AA5F0AEA4ECC9EF33B6A3FF27F60ED9B

http://www.saferinternetday.org/web/guest;jsessionid=AA5F0AEA4ECC9EF33B6A3FF27F60ED9B

References

Department for Education (2011) Teachers Standards. Department for Education [online]. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/283198/Teachers__Standards.pdf. [Accessed 25th November 2014].

Department for Education (2013) National Curriculum in England: computing programmes of study. Department for Education [online]. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-computing-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-computing-programmes-of-study [Accessed 25th November 2014].

Gurney-Read, J. (2014) Internet safety: the fourth ‘R’ in skills education. Guardian [online]. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10629030/Internet-safety-the-fourth-R-in-skills-education.html [Accessed 25th November 2014].

Metcalfe, J. and Simpson, D. (2012) Learning online: the internet, social networking and e-safety. In: Simpson, D. and Toyn, M. (eds.) Primary ICT across the curriculum. 2nd ed. London: Learning Matters (SAGE), pp.116-138.

NSPCC (2013) Younger children and social networking sites: a blind spot.  NSPCC [online]. Available from: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/Inform/resourcesforprofessionals/onlinesafety/younger-children-and-social-networking-sites_wda99104.html [Accessed 25th November 2014].

Shipton, L. (2011) Improving e-safety in primary schools: a guidance document. Sheffield Hallam University [online]Available from: http://www.shu.ac.uk/_assets/pdf/improving-esafety-in-primary.pdf [Accessed 25th November 2014].

Wheeler, S (2005) Surviving the Internet: Issues of Use and Abuse. In: Wheeler, S. (ed.) Transforming Primary ICT. Exeter: Learning Matters, pp.80-93.

Computing – Session 6: Planning to teach computing

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Posted by Craig | Posted in Computing, Digital Literacy | Posted on November 26, 2014

 

The last ever computing blog post. The aim of the session was for us to leave with the confidence to plan, teach and assess learning in computing. All of my blog posts this year have included a range of different teaching and assessment strategies that can be used, so this post will focus on planning and tracking progression in learning.

http://jhengstler.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/planningn-to-use-technology-in-a-new-school/

http://jhengstler.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/planningn-to-use-technology-in-a-new-school/

When planning computing lessons we need to make sure we have  included the key terms discussed in the last two blogs post. These are the computational thinking concepts, such as algorithms, decomposing, debugging, etc. These should underpin our planning to ensure children gain a good understanding of these terms and are confident users of them. This will allow them to progress when they move into secondary school to look at a range of other programmes and take these concepts further by analysing and creating more complex programmes. Therefore, primary education should give children the foundations for this work, whilst at the same time allowing children to explore and learn how to be creative and efficient users. The efficiency mentioned in the national curriculum will come from children being able to generalise/simplify their work. This will come from plenty of experience of using different programmes and all of the computational skills. Planning should always take into account the assessment and current attainment of the children in the class to ensure they are able to progress their knowledge, understanding and skills. 

http://www.ortingschools.org/Page/1599

http://www.ortingschools.org/Page/1599

Assessment in the national curriculum as recently undertaken a large change and levels are no longer given or used to track progress. However, some schools at the current moment and maybe in years to come will still be using either a numerical or alphabetical system with the government currently not releasing any information on how schools should track progress. Furthermore, it is up to schools on how they wish to level work and track progress. So what can we do in computing? One way is through the Computing Progression Pathways. This is a published document that can be used by teachers to firstly assess and then progress and plan lessons. The progression chart below is colour-coded to highlight the development of skills and knowledge through different stages. It splits up the computing curriculum into different sub-sections, such as algorithms, programming and development, etc. and these can help teachers to look at what their year group are expected to achieve and how this can fit into a larger spectrum of work. Of course all children will be at different levels dependent on their previous learning and experience and therefore this document can also help teachers with differentiation. Most pupils should leave primary school in between the orange and blue arrows and therefore the computing leader at the school can split these sections and the previous ones up before and this can then be used for teachers to see what will be completed before their year group and what will be achieved after. In this way, it ensures all children receive the same education and that their computing skills will be developed and progressed at all stages, making learning engaging and beneficial. 

To make this more effective I think it could be put into a learning ladders booklet that each child can keep in their trays or computing folders. This will allow them to see their own progression and also allow them to self-assess and peer-assess. These are vital skills that children will need to utilise in their later schooling and working lives. This will also allow the children to see a visual representation of their progression and can motivate them to achieve higher levels by showing them what they need to achieve next.

We also looked at some can do statements in the lesson, and these are another way that I think progression in learning can be tracked. These can also be completed by the teacher or the children. Below are some examples for the year 1 curriculum in computer science.

Last Collaborative Activity 

In today’s session, we planned a lesson for a key stage 2 class. We did this by using a five minute lesson place that was available online. This is the first time that I have used this type of lesson format and it has opened my eyes in to different ways that planning can be formatted and presented. We decided to incorporate an unplugged activity into our lesson that can then be progressed into a plugged activity in future lessons. In this way it reaches a wide range of aims on the computing progression pathways shown above. I completed this activity with Jasmin Peppiatt and Katy Lord.

Reflection 

On reflection we found this activity very hard to do in such a short space of time. The lesson plan despite being called the ‘5 minute plan’ took us at least 35 minutes and therefore within the same amount of time we could have created a more detailed plan. The plan also did not allow for large amounts of information to be inputted and therefore if we are to become stuck or another teacher was to lead the activity it would be hard for the details the plan contains to do this lesson at its full capacity. However, I did think this was a good way to gather ideas together to use as a starting point to create a more detailed plan.

In our lesson we could have decided to use an already created scratch programme for ideas and to manipulate this to show the key computational thinking skills. However, we all felt that computing should be creative and although it will take a longer amount of time we feel the children could explore and experiment to create their own activities helping to give them more sense of pride and also give them more chance to be creative and follow their own lines of enquiry. However, saying that already created programmes can be good way to show how the scratch block codes work and also how key skills such as repetition are added and how these work. Children can use these then in their own work. If these are all incorporated into every lesson, learning will flow and progress at a steady rate. Katy uploaded our lesson plan to the resource bank to share with other trainees. Below is a screenshot.

snapshot of activity

Physical Computing

During the lesson we also briefly discussed physical computing, something that we had already looked at last year. Physical computing is the exploration of physical objects or systems which have computer embedded in them (Turvey et al., 2014, p.189). Physical computing is all around us and children will have prior experience and knowledge of using these meaning they will already be engaged and have an understanding to what the term means but necessarily what it is called. Everyday objects such as mobile phones, TV remotes and vending machines all use physical computing in one way or another. The advantage of using physical computing is that it is very active and allows children to test out and modify their ideas meaning they are evaluating and decomposing. Bird et al. (2014, p.59) extend this by syaing children also need to use problem solving and thinking skills when learning how to use the psychical computing hardware. There are many different programmes that can be used to teach and allow children to explore physical computing. Lego WEDO and Makey Makey. Bird et al. (2014, p.62) show how Makey Makey and scratch can be incorporated together when using carrots to make a piano. In this way the physical computing can help to extend children’s knowledge of other programmes and show how different components can be placed together. This shows how learning with scratch and programming can be progressed.  The video below shows Lego WEDO in action and also includes comments from the teacher and children on how enjoyable it is to use.

 Last year I reviewed the programme Raspberry Pi, that can be used in schools for physical computing to take place. Below is that review with some more details from my wider reading.

media_raspberry_pi

This is a single board computer that allows a range of programmes to be run. These programmes mainly focus on inputting codes into text forms.. Programmes such as Scratch and python are included. This can aid gifted and talented learners and high achievers by extending their learning to further their knowledge. This plugs into the computer and children use the usual computer software of the mouse, screen and keyboard.The following prezi slideshow explains the importance of raspberry pi in schools.

The below video also highlights the benefits and disadvantages about using Raspberry Pi in primary schools. You will notice the children got extremely annoyed and frustrated when they needed to redo their coding as it didn’t work the first time around. However, they all stuck to the task and completed the activity and in the process highlighted and shown that they had to use debugging a major skill in computational thinking and therefore the national curriculum. So will you use Raspberry Pi in the primary school?

References

Bird, J., Caldwell, H. and Mayne, P. (2014) Lessons in teaching computing in primary schools. London: Learning Matters (SAGE).

Turvey, K., Potter, J. Allen, J. and Sharp, J. (2014) Primary Computing and ICT: Knowledge, Understanding and Practice. 6th ed. London: Learning Matters (SAGE).

An unplugged activity created in science

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Posted by Craig | Posted in Computing, Digital Literacy | Posted on November 26, 2014

 

I would just like to share something that we did in design and technology when looking at mechanisms and more specifically gears. I worked in a small group with Jasmin Peppiatt, Zoe Richardson, Katy Lord, Amanda Dowling and Alice Andrews to create a small activity that can be used as a unplugged activity. Our video is below. This would make an excellent cross-curricular link with design and technology and could be used at the same time that gears are being explored in the medium term plan. Alternatively, this could just be used on its own in a computing lesson. The questioning at the end is self-explanatory and can be used to enhance independency in the classroom. This could be used at either key stage 1 or 2. Children could also create their own videos using stories and animation and then use this to test their peers about how different objects in their story use algorithms and what these algorithms would be. Additionally, with science, children could create an algorithm to create an object using gears, try to create this and then evaluate their algorithm and add to it. In this way children will be using logic, reasoning, debugging and evaluation, whilst thinking about efficiency. This could be completed on a similar sheet that we created for one of our unplugged activities on the last blog post.

Higher level skills – challenge the children

Furthermore, to challenge the children they could be given the following video as a stimulus to make them think about how things are put together. Children could be given the actual lego model and then be asked to think about how this would have been made. This will require them to decompose the larger object into smaller parts that can be placed together to think about how the bigger object was made. In this way, they are being problem solvers and also creators. I think this is an excellent idea that can really make children think about computational thinking skills at a very high level.

I hope this blog as made you aware of some alternate ways programming can be taught to children and again emphasised how it can be made cross-curricular.

Usng Apps and App mashing (Cross-Curricular with Art)

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Posted by Craig | Posted in Computing, Digital Literacy | Posted on November 26, 2014

http://cyber-kap.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/top-10-sites-for-creating-digital-art.html

http://cyber-kap.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/top-10-sites-for-creating-digital-art.html

In today’s art lecture we looked at its links with technology. This is known as ‘Digital Art’. We began the session by talking about the ways technology could be used in art lessons and how this enhanced learning. We then talked about the two main drawbacks of using such an approach in lessons with children and these are discussed below.

Drawbacks of using technology

  •  Very high costs means that many schools cannot afford to buy iPads or the amount that is required. Why not use this as a circle of activities to resolve this problem. Have three or four different activities that children can move around.
  • Lack of experience of the children is using technology and applications. Remember we all have to start somewhere. However, why not run this alongside computing lessons. In these lessons show the children and let them explore how the apps being used in the sessions can be used.

Using Apps

We then used the app Art Circles on the iPad and designed two activities the children could complete. This app contains a range of different pieces of art, ranging from contemporary to black and white. In this way, children are using computing to retrieve information/data/pictures. Although this is only a simple skill, it is still part of the computing key stage 1 curriculum and therefore it needs to be taught and perfected. In this way art is being used as a stimulus. Jasmin Peppiatt, Katy Lord, Samuel Mallard and I, decided to use the  photo below from the app and look at how we would use this in the classroom.

Picture 1: IMG_0917

  • Children could discuss how the author has portrayed movement? What artistic techniques have they used? What effect does this have?
  • Children could observationally draw something very similar. They could locate themselves somewhere busy and think about how they portray movement. This could be emphasised through line, shade or tone and links very closely to the above activity.
  • Children could link this work to physical education and dance. The children could use the time-lapse app and take a slow motion picture of a partner. These can then be used in the lesson to re-create the picture using drawing, paint or even sculpture.  

Using Collage apps

We then looked at using collage apps such as Piccollage and BeFunky. In the session we used emotions and feelings. We went around the classroom and talk photos of different things that represented out emotions at the time. We then transferred these images on the Piccollage app and manipulated them into position we felt were appropriate. I decided to take two approaches. I wanted to look at different ways I could write the word happy. I firstly decided to use letters and then asked my peers to make the shapes using their bodies (P.E. Link – see below).

Using letters around the art classroom

Using letters around the art classroom

Using body movement to emphasise letters

Using body movement to emphasise letters

I thought this was an excellent activity and in the classroom I would use it in similar ways. I personally feel this would be best adapted to a transition activity, where the teacher could get to know the children better. Children could complete this for their own emotions and hobbies. In this way, the teacher can plan lessons around these and that will help children to gain meaning and context. It will also engage them in the lessons meaning they are more likely to learn more. It could also be used for an assessment opportunity. Children could use this activity to show how they felt about it and also their skills and knowledge. Although this is very time consuming, it is a very fun activity that can make assessment very different. So why not give it a try and mix up your assessment strategies.

Another good activity to use with Piccollage is to allow the children to analyse one piece of artwork from a great artist (NC Link). Children could decompose the piece of work into different artistic techniques and then take small pictures where this as been used. They can then create a collage of the different techniques and add annotations to this, to show their understanding of what as been used and why they think it’s been used.

App Mashing activity

We then had to create an activity that could be used in art sessions that mashed together apps. This means that two or more apps are used to make a end product. This would be an excellent way to get children to use more or one app during a lesson and can highlight their confidence and ability in using hardware and software. To progress children could use one app one lesson and then the other apps and the mashing introduced over a gradually period. Alternatively, they could all be introduced in one session and the children allowed to explore and try it out, or they could follow the teacher modelling. The next lesson could then focus on children doing this independently.  We began by picking another picture from the Art Circles application (see below). In the classroom children can create their own piece of physical art, which will allow them to practice and master artist techniques, adding a further dimension of art to the already art activity. I found this activity very engaging but challenging at the same time. Therefore, with children it would need to be carefully modelled and also discussed to ensure they understand what is required. I must admit though it made art different and exciting and hopefully it will have the same affect in the classroom. However, you need to be aware that app mashing is very time cosuming. In the lesson today it took around 10 minutes to export an image to the photo library to enable us to transfer to another app and therefore as a teacher we need to ensure we have something for the children to complete during this time so they do not become bored and to ensure they are learning. One way this could be done is by getting the children to research using another iPad different pieces of art that use the same stimulus as their drawing. Children can then begin to evaluate their own work and think about how they could improve this. Their thoughts could be recorded on the iPad’s through video offering a good assessment opportunity for the teacher after the lesson. It could also be used next lesson for the children to improve their own work.

unnamed

We then transferred out picture into the RollWorld app and changed the dynamics of the picture. We used our visual literacy skills to decide the photo resembled war and rivalry. We therefore decided to make our picture into a circular form to emphasise that rivalry is never ending. Finally, we transferred our picture into the BeFunky app and changed the colour of our picture using the emotion colour wheel we had discussed in art in a previous session. We made our picture red to resemble the anger that would have been present when the people were fighting (picture below).

unnamed (9)

So how could this picture be used in the classroom:

– Children could predict what the picture is about and then use this as a stimulus to create their own. They could additionally discuss the colour, shape, pattern and line in the picture and recreate this using sculpture, print or paint.

– In history children could look at war and rivalry. They could even begin a conflict project, were the children look at different conflicts from different periods of time.

– In PSHE children could look at rivalry and discuss the ways that this could be stopped. This would include looking at personal, social and problem solving skills that will be very helpful for children to utilise in later life.

Final Words

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post and looking at ways it can be used in cross-curricular links with computing. Once again this has highlighted another way in which computing can be added into your current curriculum and teaching to make it meaningful and engaging. If you have any other ideas please comment on this post. Many thanks!

Computing – Session 5: Directed Reading

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Posted by Craig | Posted in Computing, Digital Literacy | Posted on November 25, 2014

 

Bird et al. (2014) – Chapter 4: Programming in KS2 

This chapter looks at programming within KS2 classrooms.

The authors begin by stating children are very familiar with gaming and animations and this can be coupled with their vast experience and the availability of many computing devices. However, children are not very familiar with the more complex programming behind these programmes and therefore there is a need to make these more explicit and to give children the chance to explore and create their own programmes using more advanced tools. Through teaching programming in key stage 2 children can explore the different possibilities and outputs that can be created and occur when graphics, animations and sounds are altered and programmes when an input is undertaken. However, it is also vital that we mention the programming curriculum in key stage 1. It is vital that this aspect is promoted and the foundations laid for this progression and learning to occur and therefore, a strong whole school progression map is required to ensure children progress and important aspects and steps are not missed.

Children need to be able to transfer their algorithms into coded programmes such as Scratch, Kodu or Lego WeDo to ensure that’s a digital device can be controlled. This highlights the need for a strong link between unplugged and plugged activities that carefully scaffold the learning journey. Without this carefully planned progression children may not understand the processes behind the controls and algorithms and therefore their conceptual understanding will be poor and they may struggle to implement this learning in other areas and when they learn more complicated and further information. The authors recommend the free programme Scratch to teach children the further complexities, information and skills required.

Scratch

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6647011.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6647011.stm

I briefly discussed Scratch in the previous blog post introducing the nuts and bolts behind the programme and different ways it can be used.  It allows teachers to demonstrate, model and enhance the learning of programming and algorithms by introducing coding language. Children can improve their programming tools and experiences by adding characters called ‘Sprites’ and these can be programmed to undertake different actions.  The excellent thing about this programme is its ability for differentiation. It can be used to programme simple outputs such as speech or be used for more complex outputs and therefore highlights a clear programme that can support progression. However, I believe it is vital children get to use and programming using a range of programmes to enhance their understanding and ability to use a range of platforms and programmes. Furthermore, it will also help to build their confidence in computing. However, teachers need to be aware that Scratch is a graphical representation of code and therefore children may need or want to be progressed to look at actual computer programmes. It must be said though that Scratch offers a fantastic way into the computer coding used in the world.

Scratch according to Resnick (2013. In Bird et al., 2014) allows children to see themselves as ‘creators and designers’ and this can provide a strong motivation for further activities to be completed. Moreover, Scratch allows children to share their work with the whole world. This can be used in a partnership with other schools that can assess the programmes or to share work with parents and carers to help give children a sense of pride. This programme also offers excellent hard copies of work for assessment purposes, but further discussions may be required to fully understand whether children have fully grasped the techniques or if they have certain misconceptions that need addressing.

If you are not familiar with Scratch or want to recap your knowledge the chapter offers advice and definitions of the major aspects of scratch. Below is a quick reminder.

Scratch Component

Information

Sprite

A character or object which can be imported into the software. Can be drawn, selected from library or taken from the web.

Script

A short programme which instructs the sprite. Scripts can also be attached to the backdrop.

Command Block

Blocks which stack together to create an algorithm that the software will follow. These can be tested, changed and added to allowing for constant progression of skills.

Stage

The area where sprites can be tested out.

Backdrop

These are the stage. They can also be programmed to change or be animated.

Costume

Sprites can have lots of different

Although I have used Scratch many times before I must admit that I have always understand the different blocks that scratch composes of but I have never heard the ‘command block’ terminology and this is something that I have found really useful to read and as increased my own subject knowledge. Additionally, I have never changed the backdrop or costume on programme and this will be something I will certainly do in the future to ensure that I have the experience to be able to model and talk to the children about.  The backdrop also allows computing to be linked cross-curricular with art. In a topic of work children could create their own painting, drawing, pattern or sculpture that can be used in their animation. Again this cross-curricular link helps to make learning meaningful through the context provided.

Example lessons and activities – An example

The chapter then offers a range of different lessons and activities that can be used in year 4, 5 and 6 classrooms. One of the activities mentioned shows a Scratch project that utilises a hands on activity before moving to coding and allowing children to add their own ideas. This will be a hugely successful project that will help to bridge the gap between unplugged and plugged activities and can allow children to use the correct terminology and apply it in different circumstances. Furthermore, it gives children the opportunity to gain confidence in programming and think of different ideas that they can collaborate before using the actual programme. The only drawback to this approach is that some children may be able to use Scratch confidently such as the digital leaders. To resolve this children could be paired up with lower ability or less confident children or be asked to complete a totally different exercise. Another activity recommends the use of laminated Scratch block cards. These provide a physical element to the lesson that will help to meet the learning needs of kinaesthetic learners. Children can manipulate their blocks before implementing them into the computer system. Again this is another excellent way to bridge the gap between unplugged and plugged activities and can also be used as a differential approach to Scratch lessons.  Differentiation is vital because as the authors state “children learn to programme at different speeds”.

Assessment – Two examples

http://www.goldstareducation.com/assessment-for-learning/

http://www.goldstareducation.com/assessment-for-learning/

The authors also share some critical questions that can be used to make children give reasons and justification. These will help to explore the children’s conceptual understanding and therefore offer a good assessment opportunity. Below are some of the questions that I will use in my own classroom.  These could be asked in a whole class plenary or children could record their answers on the iPads. This will then make assessment much easier as these can be revisited by the teacher.

  • Do your blocks need to be assembled in a certain order?
  • What other blocks could you use?
  • Which instructions does you sprite respond to?
  • Can you simplify your script? – Excellent for efficiency which is mentioned in the curriculum.
  • How did you identify problems and fix these?

I also like the way that the authors suggest the ‘open room’ assessment approach. Children leave their Scratch remixes open and the other children in the class go round and test these out. Children then leave a post-it-note at the station so the child who has created the project can improve their own work. They should give one positive and one improvement. These can then be used on a working wall to set children targets and to see their progression. However, when giving feedback it is important we only provide certain information and do not give the children the answers. This is vital if we are to promote a problem solving approach which is vital in programming and computational thinking.

Computational Thinking

The authors stress the importance of not losing focus on the key computational themes and aspects are these underpin the national curriculum and programming. For this to occur children need to go a lot further than just creating a code and learning how it works. They need to think about and learn why this solution is the best by using skills such as decomposing and evaluation. They also need to learn how they can deal with problem through using debugging. The authors state these need to be taught in tandem and not isolation as they can take away from the fact that computing requires a mixture of skills and not just one at a given time.  When planning it is therefore vital that we use the computational thinking skills to underpin our planning and ensure that are lessons incorporate a range of terms a progress understanding from each one so children are able to use them together.

Three last things

I would like to end on something that was mentioned right at the beginning of this chapter. “Use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world”. This is such an empowering quote that I believe is very significant and prominent in today’s society all around the world. The use of digital technology platform and programmes are used widely by business and people as a way of entertainment or work. I therefore think this quote is relevant to primary schools and this will certainly be something that I will share with my classes.

Moreover on the topic of computing in the wider world can be brought to life by bringing regular users of computing for business purposes into the classroom. They can share their knowledge and experiences that can help to motivate and inspire children and also give them the chance to ask questions about the use of computing and how they found it throughout their schooling. It also helps children to meet and work with new people and thus helps to improve their confidence and social skills linking to PSHE another component of this blog.

So why not incorporate both of the above in your next medium term plan for computing!

And why not try some of these diagrams and information to help improve your own knowledge and us in the classroom with the children. (Taken from: http://www.ctillustrated.com/).

References

Bird, J., Caldwell, H. and Mayne, P. (2014) Lessons in Teaching Computing in Primary Schools. London: Learning Matters Ltd.

Computing – Session 5: Extending Computing at KS2

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Posted by Craig | Posted in Computing, Digital Literacy | Posted on November 25, 2014

 

This session built upon yesterday’s blog post, with the terminology discussed and the section on computational thinking linking to both sessions. This session however, will look specifically at these within the key stage 2 curriculum. Again it will specifically focus on programming and the links between computational thinking and algorithms. The key stage 2 curriculum states that children should be able to (Department for Education, 2013):

– design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts
– use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs; work with variables and various forms of input and output
– use logical reasoning to explain how some simple algorithms work and to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs
– select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to design and create a range of programs, systems and content that accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information

Let’s go

At the beginning of the lesson we worked as a whole group to look at two different activities. We needed to assess the activities and decide what skills the children will be required to use if they were using the programmes. We used the below Padlet to express our opinions and ideas. I thought this was an excellent collaboration tool that I would encourage all schools to set up for their own members of staff and that of others to share their ideas. This would allow teachers to build their own knowledge and banks of resources that they can use to challenge learners.

Within the classroom the teacher could utilise a similar activity. The teacher could upload a number of different programmes that differ in their difficult to create and analyse. The children could then look at the activities and give them a go, before looking at the different skills they have had to use. Thus this would offer the teacher a good understanding of the children’s knowledge about the different skills and will allow the children to experience how they can look at programmes in a critical way. To extend learning the teacher could add in-efficient programmes and also programmes that are coded incorrectly to see if children can apply their understanding of decomposing, logic, debugging and evaluation. Alternatively, the teacher could use it so children can compare, analyse and evaluate different programmes. In this way the children will be being critical and finding their own preferences. This would be good to do at the end of the year to see which children prefer and this can be utilised when planning for next year to engage the children even further. It can also be an indication of what as been taught with detail and which ones the children have struggled with. Here the teacher can review their own teaching of these programmes and ensure they improve these to help other year groups they will teach in the future.

I would also like to point you in the direction of one of the activities we had to analyse. Although I am unable to share this through embedding due to the software used I can provide you with the link. It links exceptionally well with science, and with myself being a science specialist it really appealed to me. It would be an excellent programme to use when teaching about animals and grouping them by their characteristics. Firstly, the children need to work out the correct characteristics and then when completed they can begin to group them together. See the screenshot below:

activity session 5 computing

Progression

Further to yesterday we discussed more advanced and more broader terms that can be used with key stage 2 children. They can also be introduced to key stage 1 children but they are unlikely to use these unless they have mastered the earlier skills and have had a broad range of experiences. I would like to take this point further. It is all well and good that children can use skills on one activity and one programme, but can they use them on multiple programmes and platforms. In placement 1b the teacher moved the children straight onto key stage 2 curriculum resources if they had completed the activity for key stage 1. Whilst this is beneficial in that it advances a child’s knowledge and shows progression, I personally felt that the teacher should have allowed the child to practice their skills on a different programme. In this way the child would have gained more confidence across a broader range than only being able to use one programme. Without the ability to use a range of programmes the children will not be able to evaluate them and say which they prefer and why. This is strongly supported by Dr Chipendall (2013) Some of the skills also relate  to life skills that children will need and again as yesterday’s post did, highlight the holistic nature of computing. It is important the within computing and programming lesson we use activities that get children thinking about and applying the computational thinking skills. Here are some of the additional terms and their corresponding definitions that we discussed in today’s session:

preservation – This is never giving up and having the determination to succeed even if something goes wrong. A vital life skill!

abstraction – This is the term used for simplifying things. In simpler terms making the programming more efficient. It focuses upon finding and analysing what is important, in a way this uses decomposing. 

evaluation – This involves making a judgement about the algorithm. It can include questioning your activity to ensure it is efficient and correct. 

logic – “Logic is the study of reasoning. The purpose of logic is to help us try and make sense of things: it helps us establish and check facts” (Barefoot Computing, n.d.)

For a more detailed explanation and visual element of these skills and concepts take a look at the Barefoot Computing website.

Bridging the gap – Key stage 1 to Key stage 2!

We first looked at how we can bridge the gap between key stage 1 programming and key stage 2 to help the children see the links and also make a smooth transition. This simple Scratch activity (Pizza Pickle) shows the children the different blocks that Scratch encompasses. It requires children to put together these blocks to create a pizza following the instructions. This step by step process (algorithm) helps children to see how the programme works and let them understand how these blocks form together to create an algorithm and also teaches them the early steps of sequencing. I really enjoyed the programme and made my pizza correctly. I also had to use logic to make sure I was following the instructions correctly. Why not change this into a unplugged activity. In a cross-curricular link allow children to make their own pizzas or any other food and create instructions. They can then use this to create their own programme similar to the one above. Very meaningful and engaging! Here is a screenshot of the Scratch activity:

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/24669802/#editor

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/24669802/#editor

Help children with the terminology and their meanings

A way to help children is to create a computing display with all the key words accompanied by their meanings and diagrams. This provides a visual element to aid the children during lessons. These could be created by the children to make the learning personal and memorable. This would therefore be a good activity as a first lesson to get children thinking about the key terminology and the skills that are required. They could then create personalised checklists that they can use to evaluate and assess their own work as they begin their own activities. These can be added to and kept on file to show their progression throughout the year. This provides solid evidence of the child’s confidence in computing. This would be good to use before the above activity.

Barefoot Computing also offer a resource that can be used with some Scratch activities. These are excellent resource for all teachers as it breaks down the different skills that can be utilised within the activity. It is especially good for teachers who lack confidence in computing and highlights differentiation techniques. I must admit I found this very useful from a trainee’s point of view, whose confidence was low. Below is an example of one of their help sheets that links to the Pizza Pickle activity.

Scratch

Scratch Overview from ScratchEd on Vimeo.

The above video gives a really good quick insight into how Scratch works and gives a vast range of ideas into how it can be used. I found it really helpful as it helped to recap the knowledge that we were taught last year. It is a computing programming software website that can be used to create a wide range of different programmes, activities, games, etc. This is completed through completing a step by step algorithm My own experience, confidence and knowledge in using Scratch is very low, so I worked extremely hard today to get use to the programming tools and what is required to make it work. Scratch allows users to be creative. They can change their sprite (character on the screen – example below), the motion of their sprite, the colour, the size and even add sounds to enhance their activity. This is a way that learning can also be progressed and links closely to giving the activity an audience and purpose. With an audience and purpose in mind, children will become more focused on the task in hand. It also gives them something to evaluate against. For example, the children could create a game for younger children in the school that works around phonics or early mathematical learning.

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/867638/

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/867638/

To use Scratch you need to drag and click together various blocks into a logical reasoned sequence to form an algorithm. Children can see and alter their design blocks whilst trying out their activity and this allows them to make changes and explore. In this way it also involved analysing, evaluating and debugging their algorithm to ensure it works and is at its most efficient. Here it is clear to see that Scratch require users to use the high end levels and concepts of computational thinking and is excellent to allow children to practice, apply and prefect their skills. The Scratch additionally fit together like a jigsaw emphasising the fact that these need to be put together to create a algorithm and also are engaging because children will have had previous experiences of these (Simpson and Metcalfe, 2012, p.68). In this way the programme clearly highlights the important computational concept, decomposing.

The great thing about scratch is that differentiation is always available, because children can look at other projects already created and use their codes to help them with their own. They can even simply just change the numbers and colours of these code as a starter to explore how the programme works. This is known by Scratch as the getting started projects. This is how I today learnt about programming and the Scratch programme. This links very closely to a constructivists view of learning, because children are learning by doing. Additionally, the children can add to this coding to make the project their own and then save this and share it with the wider community. This will give children a sense of pride in their work and the confidence to use Scratch even further. This could be progressed to children then using Scratch Cards (picture below). These cards show different activities that children can complete and show the coding that they will need to add. Both the strategies below offer a fantastic way into using Scratch and allow the children to explore the different blocks, what they can do and what they represent. They therefore provide a platform for children to become more independent because they require less input from the teacher. They also make children use computational skills such as decomposing, analysing and evaluating without actually doing much computing themselves. However, we must be aware as Turvey et al. (2014, p.184) state, that through only following other people’s codes little computational thinking or problem solving needs to be applied. Therefore, we need to give children problematic algorithms that do not work. Here children will need to apply the skills to find the problem and then decide upon how best they can solve this. They will then need to evaluate their choices to make sure they work correctly and are the most efficient. This pedagogical method is highly supported by Literacy from Scratch (n.d.) who found it very useful and beneficial in the two schools they tested Scratch on.

Example Scratch cards

Example Scratch card

To progress learning children could create a range of Scratch projects that develop in complexity and difficulty. When each activity as been completed they can create a short video that talks about the skills they have used and any problems they faced. They could also analyse the programme and the buttons they used, highlighting the ease of using these or the difficulties. These can then be collated at the end of term for a final assessment grade to take place. Alternatively, children can annotate print outs of their work, showing their reasoning to why the have done certain things. This will highlight their conceptual understanding and if followed up by open questioning by the teacher, even further understanding can be progressed and targets can be set.

Focusing on Scratch with Mathematics and Art

Scratch is a really good creative tool that links together computing, mathematics and art. Today we looked at using colour and shape in art with computing. We began by researching different pieces of work completed by other users. I myself used Helen Caldwell’s pinterest for ideas. We then looked at the activity: KS2 Shapes and Crystal Flowers. I really liked this example as it provided me with the confidence to create my own Scratch project. With myself lacking confidence it was really helpful to see an example of how I could create a good project. However, the activity as was said above did not test my knowledge and understanding and apart from learning how to copy, I didn’t really learn anything else. However, it did give me ideas!! Therefore, it can be used in computing lessons to stimulate ideas but personally it should not be used for much more, unless they have mistakes in them for children to analyse, debug and evaluate. From this I created my own piece of work. Although this is not the most technical or best piece of work it gave me great confidence and a sense of pride. This will also happen to children and we should celebrate everything they produce, and also give them feedback on how they can improve. This activity focused upon repetition. It helped to put repetition into a meaningful context that allowed me to understand the concept. Therefore, getting children to create simple Scratch projects using the vocabulary and skills is the best way to make these memorable.

In the classroom this could be made more challenging by:

  1. Asking children to change the colour of their pen/drawing
  2. Adding further instructions to make a different shape/pattern

Our Activity for a Beginner Scratch Art Project

Today I worked with Jasmin Peppiatt, Katy Lord, Josh Howe and Amanda Dowling to create a Scratch activity that progressed on from the above activity I created independently.We wanted to make our activity more cross-curricular to add meaning and context and therefore linked it to mathematics, science and art. The main focus of our lesson was stars, incorporating shape and colour. We wanted to make our activity progress from one aspect to another and decided to begin with an unplugged activity. Our unplugged activity would be based on the below activity sheet:

Children here will complete instructions for a star and then pass this to two of their peers who would complete the drawing by following the creators instructions. Once they have completed their drawings they should give feedback to the creator we will then alter their instructions if required. We decided to use a unplugged activity because as the Digital School House (n.d.) state, they aid children because they help to link computing to real-life. Another unplugged activity that could be used with children is to set them a challenge. This could involve moving a object from one place to another using the blocks used in Scratch. Scratch offer print out blocks (picture below) that can be used for children to gain understanding and knowledge of the Scratch system before actually using it on the computers.

Scratch blocks to use as  an unplugged activity

Scratch blocks to use as an unplugged activity

This would then lead onto a plugged activity. We would begin this by showing children the below Scratch project that we created and the coding that goes with this.

The children will need to decompose the instructions to work out how the finer detail relates to the output and then think of different ways these can be altered to make the programming more efficient and also to change the star created. After decomposing, children can use the above project as a stimulus to create their own project on their own creation of a star. They will need to keep focus on art, through looking at colour and shape. To differentiate, children could be required to change the colour of the star or the number of turns made. To challenge learners further the children could try to create two stars on the same page in different positions.

The extension activity above would be used to challenge the learners. This contains an incorrect algorithm in that it does not make a complete shape (mathematics link). Children will need to use their decomposing and debugging skills to correct the algorithm and complete the star. They could even create an instructional and annotation video that talks about how they used debugging. This could be used to aid children who have struggled with the activity.

For further differentiation, children could be put into mixed ability groups, and as teachers we could create scratch cards that would give clues and contain all the vital vocabulary. Our cards will also ask questions that will make the children use the computational skills and reflect upon their own progress. This will allow children to gain a deeper understanding and begin to evaluate and think about debugging.

Computational thinking skills required – decomposing, evaluate, debugging, logic. algorithms, patterns and repetition.

We then added our group work to the resource bank so other trainee’s could use it and get ideas from it.

Website Review

In my last blog post I recommended Barefoot Computing and the same applies to this post. Above I have given a flavour of the resources that they offer. These types of resources are available for all aspects of the computing curriculum at both key stage 1 and 2. For further details look at my key stage 1 blog post. Today, I would like to share with you Literacy for Scratch’s website. They offer primary teaching resources, ideas on pedagogies and also examples of children’ work which have been annotated to allow the user to see the different techniques used. This therefore provides another excellent resource bank for teachers and it is again another website I would really recommend anybody working with children add to their long list. The website also offer ideas on cross-curricular teaching that can be utilised to make the learning more engaging and meaningful. Helen Caldwell’s pinterest is another website I would recommend for all ideas computing. You could also take a little look at my pinterest for some ideas that I have came across and liked during my time as a trainee teacher.

Reflection

Today I saw the value of using a collaborative approach. This helped me to gain ideas and allowed me to discuss and use the knowledge of others to make my own knowledge and understanding better. Despite my own lack of confidence I really enjoyed using the programme although I found it very frustrating at times. This will be very similar for children so differentiation is key. I think by using an unplugged activity, especially if this is accompanied by the scratch blocks will help children build the confidence and knowledge about the buttons. I have also built my knowledge about teaching and assessing learning in the classroom.

In the classroom

So how would I teach and assess learning in key stage 2 programming?

Ways of teaching

  • Give children the codes for different activities that have certain mistake in and let them debug them. They can then use this code to create their own activity. This will allow children to use a wide range of computational thinking skills and allow them to create a programme that is more efficient.
  • Build on from unplugged activities. The teacher could use an unplugged activity in the starter of a session and children can use this as a stimulus to create their own programme. They could write down or record the instructions from the unplugged activity and then try to recreate these using a computer programme software such as Scratch. This shows that unplugged can be used more into key stage 2 as well.
  • Children could use the Scratch Cards or cards created by the teacher to make an activity using the information on the cards. To be more beneficial these cards such contain key vocabulary and also questions that will make the children reflect. There should also be mini-plenaries that will allow the children to ask questions and also give the chance for the teacher to assess and make sure children are on task. Here differentiation can be used if children are finding the activity too difficult.
  • The teacher could model the activity on the board and use children’s input. This will allow for collaborative discussion through using talk partners were children will share ideas, justify and reason. This will be a good way to introduce skills such as debugging. Turvey et al. (2014, p.184) claim that a collaborative approach in good to tackle more “open-ended design based tasks”. Through this collaboration children can create storyboards that contain different scenarios and also discuss the different ways that their output can be altered and made more engaging for the audience and purpose. However, when working in groups we need to ensure that all members are active and that some children do not take the lead role and talk all the time. This may need to be taught to children beforehand.

Assessment Ideas 

  1. Mini-plenaries throughout activities to ensure children are on task and also to help support children who are struggling. Here the teacher can offer the differentiation they have planned. It may also mean that the teacher as to model ideas or chose another teaching strategy such as the one above if the general consensus are struggling.
  2. Children can discuss their own activities/projects and talk about the skills/concepts they have used. This can be completed in different ways. A good way to incorporate more computing would be through videos. Children could edit these using iMovie or Windows Movie Maker and add screenshots to aid their discussion and annotation. 
  3. Children can create their own assessment checklist from the display board idea mentioned near the beginning of this post. Children could assess their own and then go and peer assess someone else’s work. These could be completed with talk buttons and the children could leave feedback for their peer. The peer can then return to their computer, listen to the feedback and then build on this to make their project better. In this way children are learning to evaluate and apply the feedback this to improve their project.
  4. Children can upload to a blogfolio that can be shared between different schools. Each school could then swap these and use them in one lesson to test. They could even log onto the actual activity and change the coding or add to it to show an improvement and their building knowledge. This additionally gives purpose and meaning, engaging the children further, not that they need it!!

Hopefully these ideas have given you an insight into the number of ways that programming can be taught and assessed. Remember to use the Barefoot Computing website and the Literacy fro Scratch website for further lesson ideas and resources. Remember if you are not confident in this aspect just as I was, there is help available!

References

Barefoot Computing (n.d.) Logic: Predicting and analysing. Barefoot Computing [online]. Available from: http://barefootcas.org.uk/barefoot-primary-computing-resources/concepts/logic/ [Accessed 1st January 2015]. (Need to log in to see this information). 

Department for Education (2013) Computing Programmes of Study: Key stages 1 and 2. Department for Education [online]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239033/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_Computing.pdf [Accessed 2nd January 2015].

Digital School House (n.d.) Computer Science vs. ICT explained…. Digital School House [online]. Available from: http://www.resources.digitalschoolhouse.org.uk/recommended-reading/174-dsh-recommended-computing [Accessed 2nd January 2015].

Dr Chipendall (2013) Beyond Scratch. Primary Computing [online]. Available from: http://primarycomputing.co.uk/2013/03/09/beyond-scratch-2/ [Accessed 1st January 2015].

Literacy from Scratch (n.d.)  A joint project between schools in London and Prague. Literacy from Scratch [online]. Available from: http://www.literacyfromscratch.org.uk/ [Accessed 2nd January 2015].

Simpson, D. and Metcalfe, J. (2012) Creating, processing and manipulating information. In Simpson, D. and Toyn, M. (eds.) Primary ICT Across the Curriculum. 2nd ed. London: Learning Matters, pp.52-76.

Turvey, K., Potter, J. Allen, J. and Sharp, J. (2014) Primary Computing and ICT: Knowledge, Understanding and Practice. 6th ed. London: Learning Matters (SAGE).