Final thoughts and a Survey

Having written my thoughts, findings, reading and ideas into this blog for two years, it has now come to an end! I hope to still continue adding to my blog in the future, as I feel it has been an effective way of reflecting upon my learning and pedagogical ideas.


My main aims for the blog this year were to:

  1. Improve my subject knowledge in apps and software which I had not experienced last year
  2. Improve my subject knowledge within Religious Education and pedagogical approaches
  3. To link my findings and ideas with the national curriculum and clarify how I could use them within the classroom to aid children’s progression and understanding

I hope I have now met these three targets throughout the past year. Just as I finished last year’s blogging, I would like to offer you, the reader, the opportunity to complete the following Google Form survey, which would be beneficial in helping me reflect upon my learning further and improve my blogging skills in the future.

Thank you.

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Computing on School Experience

While on school experience, I have encountered several computing lessons and have been able to talk with the computing leader. I asked the computer leader some questions about computing; the answers to which I thought would be interesting to share on my blog.

How do teachers use ICT as a separate lesson? What is covered?

There are a whole host of topics which are covered in computing, however the school often use Purple Mash and Scratch as the main programmes which the children base their learning around. Topics and objectives including programming, algorithms, step-by-step instructions, game-making, debugging, typing and editing are covered within KS1 and KS2.

Purple Mash Logo

Purple Mash Logo

How do teachers incorporate the use of ICT into their lessons?

All teachers rely on computing and ICT on a daily basis to present their teaching input during lessons. The children will often be able to utilise the interactive whiteboard when suggesting ideas during lessons. Many of the teachers also use iPhone cameras to photograph the children on trips and doing particular activities which can then be uploaded to Twitter for parents to access. Some pupils with special educational needs have access to an individual iPad; these children can use their iPads to take photographs of learning objectives and work produced, while using a variety of apps to support their learning. The teachers will often be able to remind children to look back at previous learning in the photo stream of their iPads in order to prompt these children.

Purple Mash Software

Purple Mash Software

How are the school planning for the new computing curriculum?

The school have created ‘milestones’ which are labelled specifically as, ‘Milestone One’, ‘Milestone Two’ and ‘Milestone Three’. These refer to KS1, lower KS2 and upper KS2. Each milestone consists of several objectives linked to the new curriculum which need to be met by the children during lessons; the teachers can use these ‘milestones’ to plan lessons and assess progress. 

I felt this was important to share on the blog because it puts my knowledge of computing teaching into a real-life school context. Hopefully the ideas and information shared above will be useful to other student teachers too!

Computing in Schools

Computing in Schools

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E-Safety and How To Stay Safe Online

Personally, I feel it is extremely important to educate children thoroughly about e-safety and about how to keep safe online. As the usage of social networking is becoming more and more frequent, children are often at risk of talking to strangers and giving out personal information, mainly because they are not aware of the consequences. I decided to do some research into the ways in which we can help children understand how to be safe and responsible online.

Keeping Safe picture; available from:

Shipton’s (2011) report sheds some light on how to include e-safety education within lessons and the school day. The key points Shipton (ibid) makes are that: parents should be on board; there should be inspections of e-safety practices; and both schools and parents should use a filtering system on any technology children have access to, in order to limit access to particular websites. All of these points combined, along with a teacher-parent collaboration, can help children learn the rights and wrongs of social networking and the internet in general, including how to protect their identity and personal information while spending time on the internet.


In September 2009, Ofsted introduced a new framework for their inspections, in which was a stronger and more significant focus on e-safety within schools. This year, in 2014, they have updated their reports regarding e-safety and have made several statements about how to educate children on e-safety through different approaches.

Firstly, Ofsted suggests a whole-school approach is taken. This ensures that every adult in the school is aware of e-safety issues and can follow the policy of the whole school in order to implement a consistent approach across the whole school. By collaborating with parents and carers too, the awareness about e-safety issues can be spread to the children’s home lives as well, which Ofsted say is important for communicating support to children and their parents about the issue. Moreover, schools could go further an appoint an e-safety co-ordinator to provide a point of contact for any children or parents who are worried or concerned about online safety.

On school websites, contact details for any e-safety concerns should be clear. This will enable parents or families to express anything they are worried about or need more information on. After all, some parents are not fully informed about how social media works, so providing these contact details allows parents to better their knowledge (Ofsted, 2009).

Ofsted say staff should approach e-safety by being trained in the area, as at least one member of staff within the school should have had accredited training with schemes like CEOP or EPICT. If staff have not received training, they recommend the vast training resources available online which can often be viewed by children in class too. Ofsted make it clear that lessons on e-safety should be age-appropriate, relevant to the children and engaging. Moreover lessons should be up-to-date as technology and social media is constantly adapting. The BBC asked online users to suggest their top tips to children, and these included: only talk to people they know in real life; do not click on pop-ups; set all online profiles to private; and to report upsetting or rude behaviour (BBC, 2014).

I found it really interesting researching about this issue; it is a very important one which, for many years to come, will be a significant issue in schools. Yet it is an issue which can be managed if adults work to educate children about being responsible and safe online (Ofsted, 2009). Alongside this, there are websites children can visit to learn more about being safe online and making the most of all the fun and excitement the internet has to offer! These websites include ChildNetChildLine and CBBC Stay Safe. I think the most appealing and exciting of these websites is the CBBC one; it has fun e-safety quizzes, videos, games and interactive information which makes learning about e-safety more engaging.

The CBBC's e-safety slogan


Reference List

BBC. (2014) What are your tips for staying safe online? BBC [online]. Available from: [3rd December 2014].

Ofsted. (2009) Ofsted’s Eight E-Safety Demands. Ofsted [online]. Available from: [2nd December 2014].

Shipton, L. (2011) Improving e-safety in primary schools, a guidance document. Sheffield Hallam University [online]. Available from: [2nd December 2014].

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D.L. Session 6: Planning to Teach Computing

Today we looked at what to think about when planning computing, and discussed how to monitor progress of pupils within computing.

When it comes to planning, one of the key things to identify is ‘where are the key words and terminology coming into my planning?’ (Witts, 2014) as this will enable you, as a teacher, to ensure all children have knowledge of these words and their meanings. Also, planning should include differentation, resources needed, learning objectives, success criteria and assessment opportunities.

Badge examples

Badge examples

Some schools use a badge system like the one above. This enables schools to award children. Often these badges are now visual badges which they can assign to children in computing as they reach specific points in their learning. For example, once they have mastered the use of the iPad, they could be awarded an ‘iPad user’ badge.


The Computing Progression Pathways, an snapshot of which can be seen above, can be utilised by teachers to plan lessons. Currently, schools are no longer required to use levels to highlight progression. Hence, the progression pathways use colour-coding instead of levels to highlight development of learning. The teacher can select the topic they are covering, for example algorithms, and work down this pathway from the pink arrow to the white arrow depending on the child and their knowledge and understanding. Most pupils should leave key stage two sitting somewhere between the orange and blue arrows (Witts, 2014), but this will depend on their background with technology, the computing skills they have developed, and their attainment levels. On these pathways, there are letter abbreviations on some objectives; these highlight the skills the children could improve my meeting that target. This allows teachers to identify which skills their pupils will be working towards or developing further.

Personally, I feel this pathway is not only an effective way for teachers to plot children during assessment and planning of lessons, but is also a visual way of showing the learner themselves where they are working, and how to work towards the next colour to develop their understanding and knowledge.


The 5-Minute Lesson Plan

In the session today, we planned an idea for a key stage two lesson. We did this by using the ‘5 minute lesson plan’ available online here. I have never seen this tool before but will endeavour to use it to plan a lesson on placement to see how I find it.

However, from making the lesson plan today, it is clear that the title which promises a 5-minute plan is not true for me, personally. It took me at least 35 minutes to ensure that I had used relevant resources and differentiated well! Also the boxes were limited in size so I could not add all the information and detail that I wanted. I worked collaboratively with Craig and Katy; our lesson plan is below.


Physical Computing

Finally, we had a discussion about physical computing. This is where physical objects already have a computer within them (Turvey et al., 2014, p.189) allowing us to use them to operate something. Examples of physical computers include television remote controls and mobile phones.

Physical computing can be used by children to problem-solve and think about which hardware is used to create the computer and its uses. Bird et al. (2014, p.62), in agreement, suggest that children should use MaKey MaKey and Scratch to make vegetables, such as carrots, into pianos and other musical instruments! This is interactive, memorable and fun learning which allows children to experiment with physical computing.

The following video, made by The Grommet (2012), explains just how fun and exciting MaKey MaKey can be. For those of you who are not familiar with MaKey MaKey, this is a great video to introduce the software. Personally, I absolutely love it; hours of fun can be had!


Reference List

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

The Grommet (2012) MaKey MaKey – Invention Kit. YouTube [online]. Available from: [2nd December 2014].

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

Witts, A. (2014) Lecture notes. [Lecture on Planning to Teach Computing]. Computing. ITT2025. University of Northampton. 2nd December.

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Working with Digital Leaders from Standens Barn Primary

Recently, I was lucky enough to become a digital leader at university. My role is to work with children who are also interested in computing and technology; this can be done by either inviting primary children into the university, or spending time visiting children at school and volunteering to help out. I felt becoming a digital leader would really enable me to fine-tune my computing skills and learn more about apps and software I have not yet encountered, while giving other children the opportunity to share ideas and use different technology they have not yet used.

Today I spent the afternoon with twelve digital leaders who visited us from years five and six at Standens Barn Primary School. We had a great time collaborating and working together to produce films and trailers using apps and green screens.

The digital leaders from Standens Barn Primary School.

The digital leaders from Standens Barn Primary School.

As the university’s digital leaders are a lot older than the Standens Barn pupils, it was really interesting to notice the difference in knowledge (it was evident that the children knew a lot more about some of the apps!). Having said this, both sides were able to pass on new and interesting knowledge and we encouraged the children to make videos by experimenting with green screens and new apps they were not as familiar with in order to improve their own skills.

I worked with two children who created a news report about a ‘floating face’. This meant we could really play around and experiment with the green screen concept, by wrapping green cloth around one of the children’s bodies in order to literally create a floating head! This worked well, and if they had more time, they would have made it into more of a film trailer with text and music overlay. Even so, the video below shows their creative ideas and how they used the green screen technology to change the background, utilise different characters, and create a short news report which was interesting, different and humorous.

I decided to complete some research on why digital leaders are so important within school. I was able to have a short discussion with the headteacher from Standens Barn Primary on their visit to the university. He said he felt computing was almost becoming a core subject as it plays such a prominent part in children’s lives and learning. Hence, digital leaders can facilitate new ideas and look at how learning can be enhanced in the school. I also spoke to the digital leaders from Standens Barn about what they do in school; they explained that they take part in computing sessions where they can evaluate new apps to then introduce them to the rest of the school. They also work with other year groups (recently they helped year one pupils) to demonstrate how technology can be used and explored in different lessons.

Image taken from:

Image taken from:

To continue my research, I found a Rising Stars UK document about the benefits of digital leaders in the primary school. This discusses that digital leaders can not only bridge the gap between adult digital leaders and computing teaching, but can ensure that all children have an understanding of the ever-changing technology available (Rising Stars UK, n.d.). Because these year five and six children work at a more relevant level, they can often explain technology and new apps to younger children in a way that older teachers and adults cannot.

Digital leaders can attend extra sessions like ‘kidsmeets’, where children from all over the country join to discuss computing topics. Moreover, after-school computing clubs can help to enhance and challenge learning. This new learning and experience can then be relayed back to the rest of the year groups, allowing the digital leaders to be ‘teachers’ themselves.

The Rising Stars UK document discusses how the hashtag #DLChat can also unite digital leaders across the world (on Twitter and Pinterest, for example) to enable exploration and collaboration. Through talking with other digital leaders from different schools and even different cultures, children can learn new concepts and be introduced to new ways of learning about computing.

Image taken from:

Image taken from:

To summarise, being a digital leader can encourage and allow children to do the following:

  • promote the roles of digital leaders and the benefits
  • take part in posting on the class or school blogs
  • tweet about school activities and learning
  • lead technology-based assemblies
  • learn and develop new skills to become experts in their field
  • support peers and other year groups in computing lessons
  • introduce both children and staff to new software and apps available
  • learn a whole range of new skills and confidence in their roles.

Having discussed the several benefits of being a digital leader, it is clear it is an advantageous role and something which I personally feel should be offered in primary schools. Digital leading also meets the national curriculum requirement (DfE, 2013, p.178) which states children should be “responsible, competent, confident and creative users” of computing technology. Being a digital leader myself, I have loved having the opportunity today to work with the digital leaders from Standens Barn Primary; they had brilliant, creative, innovative ideas which can also help me understand how children learn and develop their skills within computing.

Moreover, the digital leaders from Standens Barn Primary have their own blog. This can be found here if you would like more of an insight into what the children learn about in computing at school and what their roles are as digital leaders. The video below provides a summary of our afternoon together… Much fun had by all!


Reference List

DfE. (2013) The National Curriculum in England. England: Department for Education.

Rising Stars UK. (2014) Getting Started with Digital Leaders: A practical guide [online]. Available from: [28th November 2014].

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D.L. Session 5: Extending Computing in KS2

Today our session built on our findings from yesterday’s session. Yesterday focused solely on KS1, whereas today we lead on from KS1 to KS2 computing.

We began by evaluating activities which immerse children in programming and algorithms (step-by-step instructions). We all used Padlet to express our opinions and ideas about the activities, and highlighted the skills children would need to complete the activities. I shared my own views on the Padlet below too.

In the classroom, Padlet can be utilised to allow children to express their own views about particular resources and software. Furthermore, Padlet can help the teacher to assess which children have full understanding of the concept in the lesson, which children have some or limited understanding, and those children who have no understanding or have misconceptions.


Scratch  2.0

If you are unfamiliar with Scratch and how it can be used by children, the following video (originally made for Worcester Public Library, 2011), can help to explain what Scratch is, the structure of the software and how it can be used.

Today I looked at a Scratch 2.0 activity called Pizza Pickle; an activity created to make step-by-step instructions a bit more interesting. This activity bridges the gap between KS1 and KS2 algorithms and computing, due to children needing to add their pizza toppings in the correct order to create the ‘perfect pizza’. I was able to make the pizza in the correct order after putting the steps in the right sequence. In the classroom, the teacher could challenge the children by giving them the following scenario: ‘A customer needs a pizza making within 2 minutes but would only like tomato sauce and cheese, and the customer’s friend would also like the same pizza but with basil on the top too’ – can the children do this before the customer leaves?


Assessing KS2 Computing – My Ideas…

Children could complete a series of four Scratch activities, which increase in difficulty (depending on differentiation needed in the class), to allow children to develop their skills in this area of computing. After completing each activity, children could record a short evaluation on the iPads via video. The children could say what they did to complete the Scratch activity; what they learnt; how challenging they found it; and what they would do to improve the flow of the particular Scratch for other users. These recorded videos could be collated in iMovie or MovieMaker at the end of the term, so that the teacher and parents could see the progress of the child throughout their computing learning that term.

Mini plenaries are also an effective way of showing children’s work part way through the lesson, and they can prompt and offer visual examples to other children who are finding the Scratch activity challenging.


Creating my own Scratch

I wanted to stick with an art and mathematics link, so decided to make shapes to start with. Below is the square I drew with Scratch; my step-by-step instructions are visible too, in case you would like to replicate my instructions!

The square I created

The square I created

Next I decided to created a more complicated Scratch – see below. I really enjoyed making this Scratch as it was more challenging. Children could experiment with different shapes and colours.



A Computing Activity for a Beginner Scratch Art Project

I worked with Craig Evans, Katy Lord, Josh Howe and Amanda Dowling. We decided to incorporate mathematics, science and art by asking the children to draw stars using the Scratch tools. The children would first begin with an unplugged activity below where they create a ‘crazy star’ and ask two other children to draw the star using the instructions they write.

Leading onto a plugged activity, children would play the Scratch below, then decompose the instructions to work out which smaller details and instructions could be altered to make the star better. After decomposing and evaluating, the children can make their own stars using our instructions as a starting point.

To differentiate, some children could be required to change the colour of the star, for example, while others would be challenged by being asked to alter our instructions then create their own.

Extension activity: children could be given an incorrect algorithm on Scratch, and need to use their decomposing and debugging skills to correct the algorithm and complete the star (see below). They could even record a video on an iPad to explain how they debugged it to their peers.

I shared this on the Resource Bank for other trainees and teachers to look at.

My contribution to the Resource Bank

My contribution to the Resource Bank


Directed Reading

Bird et al.’s book, Chapter 4: Programming in KS2 

The chapter starts with this statement: ‘use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world’. I feel this is a very significant, empowering quote. It is clear that computing and technology is becoming more and more relevant in today’s society, hence this quote is particularly relevant for the generation of children in primary schools at the moment.

The writers make it clear that children are very familiar with gaming technology, but by learning about programming, they can explore the possibilities available for creating their own animations, stories and sounds which can move and make certain actions when clicked.

Children need to begin by understanding what the basic concepts are. For example that an algorithm is a sequence of instructions. Scratch is a programming tool which children can use to improve upon these concepts. By adding characters, known as ‘sprites’, to the Scratch, children can programme them to do certain things.

Scratch allows teachers to demonstrate, model and enhance learning regarding programming and algorithms in a way which is relevant for children because it is interactive and different. Resnick (2013, cited in Bird, et al., 2014) explains that children can start to see themselves as “creators and designers” who can make characters and animations with Scratch in a visual way.

In addition to this, Scratches can be shared with children’s peers and parents or carers at home, so that they can gather feedback on their learning and share ideas with like-minded Scratchers!

Scratch and similar programmes link to the national curriculum (DfE, 2013, p.178) as children are required to “design, write and debug programs” while solving problems “by decomposing… into smaller parts”.

If you are not familiar with Scratch, this chapter of the book highlights the varying components. These are as follows…

  • Sprite: a character which can be imported into the programme or chosen from the software itself
  • Script: a short program which gives sprites instructions to carry out
  • Command Block: this block consists of instructions put together to make a program
  • Stage: the sprites can be tested out here
  • Costume: sprites can have lots of different poses and actions called costumes
Sprites available

Sprites available

Even having used Scratch numerous times myself, I did not know about the ‘command block’ terminology, so it is useful to have reflected on these definitions and summarised the ideas.

This chapter in the book also provides several lesson ideas and templates which are great for teachers to gather inspiration from. One of the lesson plans suggests that children can be supported through being given physical, laminated Scratch block cards to structure their instructional commands into algorithms before inputting them into Scratch online. I felt that this is a great way of bridging the gap between unplugged and plugged learning, while supporting those children who need more clarification of how to create an algorithm by physically organising the instructions first. Likewise, Scratch is very open-ended which allows children to find relevant activities and algorithms to decompose and create.

Hunt (2014, cited in Bird, et al., 2014) highlights that computational thinking allows individuals to understand the world around them with more ease, through enabling them to structure their thinking and look at a situation from different perspectives. However the chapter highlights that there are many parts to computational thinking and so teachers need to put them into context for children to show why and how they can use them in ways relevant to their own lives.


Reference List

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

DfE. (2013) The National Curriculum in England. England: Department for Education.

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D.L. Session 4: Extending Computing in KS1

The National Curriculum (2013, pp.178-179) states that children in key stage 1 should be able to “understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science”; “analyse problems in computational terms”; “evaluate and apply information technology”; and “be responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.” They should, continually, be able to understand algorithms, and debug simple programmes.

Eric Schmidt’s presentation, which took place in 2011, aided the public’s awareness of a need for change in the way that we teach computing. He said there is a need to “bring art and science back together” in order to dissolve the division between the two. He summarised that art and science need to be involved with each other in order to show children they do not have to be skilled in ‘one or the other;’ they can be great learners in both areas. He gives the example of Lewis Carroll being both an Oxford lecturer in mathematics as well as a novelist, showing Carroll’s diversity within topics and areas of knowledge. Below is Schmidt’s presentation (2011).



Computational thinking involves: 1) concepts like logic; algorithms; decomposition; patterns; abstraction; and evaluation, and 2) approaches like tinkering; creating; debugging; persevering and collaborating.

Berry (2014) takes these concepts further. He explains that algorithms are step-by-step instructions which describe how something works or how it is done. For example, a dance routine or recipe is a set of rules which are an algorithm. Berry states that children should be taught about algorithms through making their own steps for every day routines like brushing teeth, then using these steps to understand how algorithms are used in computing. I found a great app called CargoBot which can be used to help children with step-by-step instructions. Next, Berry (2014) talks about logical reasoning; he says this is important as children need to learn where bugs are in their step-by-step algorithms and how to use reasoning to identify and debug these problems. Continually, he states that decomposition is important in allowing children to highlight the smaller problems in their algorithms which have an impact on the larger concepts. For example, if a child was writing a step-by-step guide to brushing teeth, they could not just say ‘pick up your toothbrush’ because they would need to decompose this concept, and specify exactly which hand to pick up the toothbrush with, and what to do with it.

Berry (2014) continues that patterns will be able to be identified by pupils through looking at algorithms and noticing patterns in the steps; these are ‘common’ patterns to help “common problems.” Berry furthers this by stating that “re-using patterns will be familiar to children,” for example when learning spellings. Finally, Berry talks about abstraction; this is about capturing “the important structure of a system or problem.” Berry suggests showing children the Tube Map as this is an example of a significant structure of a working system; it shows each station and the interchanges. In computing, we should layer abstraction, by working in smaller detail and also using the bigger picture.


An unplugged activity

In today’s session, we tried an activity called ‘Human Crane’ where Lego bricks need to be moved from one bowl to another using step-by-step instructions. We began by creating steps for the movement of Lego bricks from one bowl to another (see image below).

The movement we had to complete using the 'action' cards.

The movement we had to complete.

The following video shows our algorithm in action. We felt it can be easily differentiated for children in the classroom too, as those who are less-confident can be given the ‘action’ cards (which state steps such as ‘Up 1’ and ‘Right 1’) as well as a more simple movement to complete. Contrastingly, the higher ability children and those who are more confident in computing can be given a more challenging movement to complete, and be asked to create their own ‘action’ cards for the steps. Our video could be used during the start of a computing lesson to introduce the unplugged activity.


Another unplugged activity

Furthermore, we completed an activity working in groups of three. Katy Lord created a simple algorithm, which meets the National Curriculum (DfE, 2013, p.178) requirements, and then asked Craig Evans and I to follow the instructions and draw the ‘crazy character’. It was very interesting to see each other’s drawings and how they differed; see the picture below. This would show children how others have interpreted their step-by-step instructions and would allow them to use computational thinking, specifically ‘evaluation,’ to improve their steps.



Beebots and bridging the gap between unplugged and plugged activities

We worked in the same group of three to create an activity using the Beebots! We drew our own map of a town and the video below could be played to children to show them how to use the Beebots.

We included questioning in our video to directly address the viewer. The children could create their own maps and programme the Beebots to travel to other landmarks, houses, and shops. In our town, we had a grocery man delivering fruit and vegetables to local residents; we questioned why Jeff, at the house visited in the video, wanted oranges. This could provoke discussion from the children about nutrition and vitamin C, making the Beebot activity cross-curricular with science too. We added coordinates to our map also, as we felt this was important and added a mathematical element to the activity, as children would need to describe where they are travelling to by stating the coordinates.

Craig Evans kindly shared our group’s activity on the Google community page. This enables other trainees and teachers to look at what we have created.

This week's contribution to the community page

This week’s contribution to the community page


Directed Reading

Chapter One of Bird et al.: Algorithms & Computational Thinking KS1

This chapter discusses how to meet the National Curriculum aims for KS1 in computing, and how to teach appropriate computing lessons for KS1 while improving children’s understanding of algorithms.

The Collins English dictionary defines algorithms as “any method or procedure of computation, usually a series of steps” (Collins English dictionary, cited in Bird et al., 2013). Typically, the chapter summarises ‘computational thinking’ as a problem-solving process in which algorithms and data is analysed and organised into a particular structure.

The national curriculum (DfE, 2013, pp.178-179) states that children should have comprehension of algorithms and “how they are implemented on digital devices” as well as children exploring “common uses of technology beyond school”.

In the chapter, the writers discuss how algorithms can be put into context for children. They use the example of making some toast!


I felt this was a great example as many children will know exactly what this looks like, and the steps involved. The instructions below are taken from the chapter, and show children just how detailed their algorithms should be!

“1. Open bread the packet > 2. Take one slice of bread out with your hand > 3. Put the bread in the toaster > 4. Push the lever on the toaster down > 5. Wait until the toast pops up > 6. Take the toast out of the toaster with your hand > 7. Get a plate > 8. With your hand put the toast on the plate > 9. Get a knife and margarine > 10. With one hand holding the tub of margarine use the other to take the lid off the margarine > 11. Put the knife into the margarine and put some margarine on it > 12. Hold the plate with your left hand > 13. With the knife in your right hand, spread the margarine on the toast > 14. Pick the toast up in your hand > 15. Eat the toast!”

Assessment: children could self-assess their algorithms for making toast or even a bowl of cereal, and then other children in the class could peer-assess by actually following the instructions; is there anything that goes wrong? If so, how can the child debug it? This allows children to see the links between theirs and other children’s work, as well as allowing them to have ownership over their own work (Black and Williams, 1990, cited in Bird, et al., 2014). Moreover, by these peer assessments being recorded, the teacher can look at what the children have understood, and what needs to be covered in further lessons.

Once pupils have comprehension of what an algorithm is, they can explore their uses. In most games, like Minecraft, there are algorithmic processes which children have to complete. They could be asked to record a video on the iPads about these processes.


Reference List

Berry, M. (2014) Computational Thinking in Primary Schools. An Open Mind [online]. Available from: [24th November 2014].

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

DfE. (2013) The National Curriculum in England. England: Department for Education.

Eric Schmidt (2011) Excerpts from Eric Schmidt’s James MacTaggart Lecture – part 1. YouTube [online]. Available from: [24th November 2014].

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R.E. Session 6: PSHE

We began today by asking: what is PSHE?

The national curriculum (2013, p.5) states that “all schools should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice.”

A Wordle I created about the focuses within PSHE

A Wordle I created about the focuses within PSHE

Personal – this is concerned with the children’s knowledge, acceptance and values of life. It looks at how children can learn skills in keeping safe and have good well-being. It focuses on topics like personal resilience, self-belief and respect for ourselves and others.

Social – this is looking at interpersonal skills and attitudes in social situations, including friendships, relationships, collaborative team-work skills, and leadership. Most lessons will focus on communication, empathy, emotions and morals.

Health – this considers how children can have healthy lifestyles, looks at health issues which can arise, and how diet and exercise can have an impact on our wellbeing.

Economic – focuses on financial education, savings and bank accounts, the value of money, businesses and how the economy affects us.

I made the following video (via Powtoon) to discuss and present the questions we need to ask, as teachers, when teaching PSHE.


Arguments for teaching PSHE discreetly:

  • It can be embedded in learning
  • Makes it obvious to children
  • Allows for reflection
  • Short, concise lessons can keep children interested

The PSHE Association (2014, p.2) states that the main aims for PSHE education is to provide pupils with “accurate and relevant knowledge; opportunities to turn that knowledge into personal understanding; opportunities to explore, clarify and if necessary challenge, their own and others’ values, attitudes, beliefs, rights and responsibilities; the skills, language and strategies they need in order to live healthy, safe, fulfilling, responsible and balanced lives.”

They continue to state that the key concepts to discuss within lessons are: identity, relationships, health, lifestyles, risks and safety, diversity, equality, rights and morals, change, power and careers (PSHE Association, 2014, p.4).

In light of this, we made a rail safety lesson plan which can be used to inform children about the dangers of railways and how to keep safe around train stations. Craig Evans, Amanda Dowling and I felt that this lesson, however, would be appropriate for key stage two only, as key stage one children may get too worried as it does contain a ‘shock factor’.


Depersonalising Learning

In a following PSHE lesson, we talked about how to distance learning and depersonalise it in order to make children feel less embarrassed and worried about the topic at hand. We made the following video to pose a question to children from the puppets’ points of view.


Directed Reading

Goddard, G., Smith, V. and Boycott, C. (2013) PSHE in the Primary School. London: Pearson Education Limited. Chapter 1.

This chapter summarises exactly what PSHE is and how it should be taught. The writers state that they believe there are only two vital parts to PSHE education; these include personal education and social education. Firstly, personal education is described as covering topics like self-knowledge, self-acceptance and valuing ourselves. Children should be taught about self-motivation and how to feel confident. Secondly, social education is said to centre on interaction and social skills like relationships, peers and employees, friendships and leadership skills (Goddard et al., 2013, p.7).

The Every Child Matters document (2003, cited in Goddard et al., 2013, p.9) and the Child Act (2004, cited in Goddard et al., 2013, p.9), state that it is a legal requirement for children to be healthy; to be safe; to make achievements; achieve well-being; and make an impact on society. These requirements can be met within PSHE education.

The chapter also discusses the idea that raising levels of psychological and physical well-being can, in turn, raise levels of attainment and academic achievement. This is a key reason as to why PSHE should be a part of every day schooling (Goddard et al., 2013, p.13).


Directed Task

We were asked to research and review resources available in the university library to teach the different aspects of PSHE.  Completing this will also help to enhance our own subject knowledge and teaching strategies that can be used to engage learners and enhance learning opportunities. Below is an audit of the resources available written by Craig Evans and I.


Show racism the red card (SE370.115)


This includes an educational DVD that is relevant to children because it features many famous footballers such as Gary Lineker. However, we must take into account that some children will not know who these footballers are so may take a disinterest in the video. The DVD gives a powerful anti-racist message to children. It comes with an educational pack which aims to familiarise children with the causes and consequences of racism and enables children to develop good understanding of how to respect differences between people without judging their ethnicity. The pack also has activities that teachers can use to give children scenarios which they need to discuss and think about in groups. Each activity has learning objectives and outcomes which teachers can link to the national curriculum (2013). The pack finishes with a fun quiz which teachers can utilise to assess children’s understanding of the topic and what they would do in particular racist scenarios.


People Who Help US (SE363.0941)


The pack has many laminated photos which can be used to provoke discussion. The teacher can provide children with open-ended questions and ask them to discuss how they felt when they have been in each of these scenarios. If they have not been in a scenario, like a hospital visit for example, children can discuss what they think it would be like, and how they would cope. However, the photos are clearly very old, and the equipment and vehicles in the photographs are not the same as they are in 2014; this could be a talking point for the class as they could compare the similarities and differences between the emergency services and medical services back then compared with nowadays.

The teacher’s notes in the pack include discussion points; classroom activities, with sheets; follow up work; and places to visit which can enhance learning. This is a very useful pack for teachers.


Emergency (SE363.1)


This pack starts with a story called ‘A visit from the Safety Elf’ which talks about a Safety Elf who loves noticing hazards and safety issues which need correcting. However the Safety Elf ends up being a safety hazard himself!

The sheet that follows asks the children to make a safety poster for the Elf to cheer him up. This allows children to synthesise ideas from the story and create their own poster portraying their knowledge on how to keep safe.


Families Posters (SE306.85)


 These posters show photographs of different families from varying cultures all over the world. This is an effective way of showing children that no two families are exactly the same, and that every family is completely unique and individual. Children can use these posters as a stimulus to drawing their own family posters.

Some children may be sensitive about drawing their own family, or some may not even have a family, so could use a storybook as a stimulus and draw the family from the storybook. This would enable all children to feel comfortable with the task. After each child had drawn a picture of the family, they could compare the drawings to highlight that the families are all different and they could even learn about their peers’ different cultures and backgrounds.


Money Talks (SE332.4)


This pack contains a money quiz which has trivia questions for children about money and coins. They can work in pairs to share ideas and find the correct answers; the teacher could also provide a reward for the winning pairs with the most answers correct. This pack significantly links with mathematics, so these pairs working together could be mixed-ability too. The pack also has a laminated sheet of ‘sayings’ and ‘meanings’. The children can link these up to enhance understanding of common phrases which can have other meanings. For example, ‘to spend a penny’ is ‘to go to the toilet’.


Reference List

DfE. (2013) The National Curriculum in England. England: Department for Education.

Goddard, G., Smith, V. and Boycott, C. (2013) PSHE in the Primary School. London: Pearson Education Limited.

PSHE Association (2014) PSHE Education Programme of Study (Key Stages 1 – 4) October 2014. PSHE Association [online]. Available from: [24th November 2014].



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R.E. Session 5: The Use of Visits and Visitors

Today’s post is all about the use of visits and visitors within religious education.

Image taken from:

Image taken from:

Visitors coming into school

What are the benefits of visitors within R.E. lessons?

  • puts learning into context
  • allows children to ask questions and get realistic answers
  • gives children more experience
  • allows children to become immersed in different beliefs in order to form their own opinions and gain an understanding of other beliefs
  • visitors have had first-hand experiences with the religion
  • promotes community cohesion
  • allows pupils to respect and work with other people who are not school staff
  • visitors can bring in real-life resources that they utilise in their day-to-day lives
  • can enhance both the children’s and teachers’ knowledge
  • cheaper to invite a visitor in than take children out of school to meet religious people
  • Meets AT1 (learning from a religion)


Issues involved with having visitors within R.E.:

  • might not understand the level the children are working at (may go too in-depth)
  • may indoctrinate the children with their beliefs or have biased views
  • could oppose or contradict beliefs or rituals the children have learnt about


What is a place of worship or sacred site?

A sacred place or place of worship is a place within any area like the community, country or worldwide, where children can explore different religious, spiritual and moral questions they have (Miller, 2009). A sacred site is related to religion, or beliefs of a religious kind, where people go to feel safe or worship their religion. Often, sacred places can create a sense of awe and wonder for children.

Prayer flags

Prayer flags

I feel the picture above could create a sense of awe and wonder for children; it looks quite magical. The prayer flags are there to represent the Tibetan peoples’ hopes and wishes. The children could discuss in talk partners how they would feel if they were there; what would it feel like? What noises would there be? What would the atmosphere feel like?


Visits outside of school

Image taken from:

Image taken from:

Benefits of R.E. visits outside of school:

  • promotes community cohesion
  • allows children to have contact and ask questions to community members
  • furthers children’s understanding of religious concepts and beliefs
  • gives children opportunities for cross-curricular learning
  • enables children to interact with religious places
  • allows children to gain an understanding of why places are sacred and special
  • can build positive attitudes
  • makes learning memorable (Visions in Education, n.d.)
  • can allow children to be investigative and make informed choices
  • visits can correct any misconceptions or misunderstandings children have


Things to think about before R.E. visits outside of school:

  • is it an appropriate visit for meeting the national curriculum and learning objectives?
  • how many people can visit the location at one time?
  • what are the travel and location costs?
  • how long does it take to travel there?
  • when is it appropriate for the teacher to go for a pre-visit beforehand?
  • what learning facilities are available there?
  • what needs to be included on the risk assessment?
  • are all parents happy with their child going into a sacred site or place of worship?


Planning a day visit

In the session today at university, our tutor asked us to devise a plan for a religious education day trip. I worked with Craig Evans, Amanda Dowling and Emma Herd. We decided we would base our plan around the National Holocaust Centre and Museum.

First we completed some research about the Holocaust Centre; we needed to know what was available there and if it would be a worthwhile trip. On their website, they say that to deliver educational sessions which are worthwhile and relevant, children should first recognise significant lessons we have learnt from history (The National Holocaust Centre, n.d.). On the trip, the educators at the museum will talk to the children about the Holocaust to explore the dangers of divided communities and racism. They aim to discuss issues like discrimination and isolation while trying to challenge attitudes and values which are evident in today’s society. Essentially, they would like to make an impact on learning and guide children to making a positive impact in their own communities.

We decided the children would need to have already had at least one lesson on the Holocaust, and they would need to have created questions to ask while at the Holocaust centre. By identifying a question, they would have a clear aim for the visit and know what they would like to find out more about.

At the Holocaust Centre, the children would receive a talk and tour from the educators and staff at the centre, as well as being able to walk around the museum themselves. There is an exhibition called ‘The Journey’, which is specifically aimed at primary school children, so children would also be welcome to spend time at this exhibition; it tells the children about the survivors of the Holocaust, and follows the life of a young boy during such a time.

We felt the exhibition is a great way of immersing the children in the experience, and by using a young boy character to tell them about the experience, they would be able to relate to him much more.

Before the day trip, we listed things the teacher would need to do. These included: completing a risk assessment; going on a pre-visit; contacting the educators and booking a time and date; contacting parents (the trip is £7.00 per child); and preparing travel to and from the centre.

The Holocaust Centre, on their website, state the national curriculum requirements they can meet while children are at the centre. I felt this was very important and it highlights just how useful to the children’s learning this visit would be. By the end of the day trip, the children will have: explored and learnt more about the Jewish children during World War Two; learnt about the past from a whole range of resources; been encouraged to consider what experiences would have been like and how people would have felt; and gained a more thorough awareness of what the Holocaust meant for people of the time.


Directed Reading

Notes on Primary Religious Education – A New Approach:

The book makes it clear that schools needs to promote community cohesion (p.16). It is important for children to make links between real life things and concepts they learn within school. They can start to establish an understanding about the multi-cultural society around them and the different types of people who live in their communities, along with the beliefs they have (pp.17-18).

Community cohesion enables children to form their own identities and become their own person with their own opinions (p.110). The DfES (2007, cited in Erricker, et al., 2011, p.112) “passionately believe that it is the duty of all schools to address issues of how we live together and dealing with difference.”

However, the book makes it clear that studies have found the media reports and representations of schools and religions can prevent cohesion and community spirit amongst children and the wider community. Schools also felt a lack of national identity prevents cohesion (p.114).

Directed Task

After today’s session, we were asked to spend time, in pairs and working collaboratively, to create a plan for a local R.E. day visit. Below is mine and Craig Evans’ plan. 

We felt choosing a graveyard may be a sensitive issue, but an place which is very important for children to visit because they should be able to discuss feelings and emotions they experience while in such a place. Through these discussions, Craig and I hoped that children would be able to understand why their parents and family become upset when they visit the graveyard, and that they would be able to cope better when faced with these situations.


Reference List

Erricker, C., Lowndes, J. and Bellchambers, E. (2011) Primary Religious Education – A New Approach. Oxon: Routledge.

The National Holocaust Centre. (n.d.) Education. The National Holocaust Centre [online]. Available from: [18th November 2014].

Visions in Education. (n.d.) School Trips Help Schools Succeed. Visions in Education [online]. Available from: [18th November 2014].

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D.L. Session 3: Technology Beyond the Classroom

Today we explored the ways in which technology can enhance learning outdoors and the different types of learning which can take place beyond the classroom.


Why is outdoor learning so important?

  • It allows children to try new things which they cannot do within the classroom
  • Learning outdoors creates a memorable learning environment
  • It encourages active, three-dimensional, hands-on, experiential learning (Creative Education, 2011)
  • Raises self-esteem (Institute for Outdoor Learning, n.d.)
  • Helps children to work as a group and delegate roles while using team-building skills; promotes collaborative roles
  • It makes learning authentic
  • Children who often feel unsure or worried about contributing in the classroom can be given new opportunities to build their confidence and social skills
  • It can be very exciting and engaging because children can explore the outdoor environment (Rippledown Environmental Education Centre, 2014)
  • It helps provide a holistic education (The National Association for Environmental Education, 2012)
  • It can challenge learners to do new things and use prior knowledge in new ways

What are the drawbacks of learning outdoors?

  • Risk assessments need to be completed
  • Supervision: there needs to be an appropriate staff/adult to pupil ratio
  • Teachers need to plan what the children will do and activities appropriate for the class
  • Behaviour rules need to be made very clear

Our tutor, Alison Witts, made a video which I have inserted above. I really enjoyed watching this video as it makes it very clear about how technology beyond the classroom can impact learning, and how much children need to spend more time outdoors due to the high use of technology indoors, instead of using it to its full potential.

Moreover, it should be noted that the national curriculum (DfE, 2013, p.179) highlights that children should “use technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content”. This requirement can be met outdoors, as children can organise images, manipulate image and sound through multi-modal learning, and use technology to present learning.



The abbreviation ‘QR’ stands for ‘Quick Response’ and a QR code is a barcode which can be scanned to take the user to a particular webpage, message or image on their phone or tablet. Nowadays, they regularly appear in retail for shoppers to scan to get more information about a product. However, they can be used effectively inside and outside of the classroom for various reasons and in many ways.

Treasure hunts and nature trails are often dotted with information signs, but now QR codes can replace these. Children can walk around a nature trail with an iPad, for example, and can use the iPad to take photos on their way around the trail, while using the QR code scanner app to find out more information about surrounding birds, wildlife and habitats. My peers and I discussed how QR codes could even be used to link in with the teaching and learning of history; the teacher could hide QR codes, which link to different kings and queens, around the school playground or field, and the children have to find and scan each QR code. Once they have scanned every code, they could put the historical figures on a timeline in order of reign, for example, using discussion and reasoning to come to their decisions. I also think the idea of using QR codes on maps is very interesting; children could complete the activity by reading the co-ordinates to find the QR codes (Barrett, n.d.).


Our outdoor activities

My group today consisted of Craig Evans, Katy Lord, Josh Howe and I.

Josh Howe and I decided to work separately to come up with an activity aimed at KS2 children, which uses QR scanners and has strong cross-curricular links with mathematics. We went around the university and took 7 photographs of different locations (however, the teacher could do this at school so that the children recognise the locations better). The children would have to scan our first QR code to find where to travel to, then at the next location, there is a QR code to lead them to the next location, and so on!

The children would be required to use their knowledge of measurement and measuring skills to work out the distance between each of the 7 locations; they can use resources like a metre wheel or a tape measure as their type of measurement. They could record the distances on their iPads and then once they have recorded all 7 distances, come back to the classroom. In the classroom, it will be clear that some have used centimetres, and others will have used metres; here they can use their prior mathematics knowledge to convert their measurements and compare with each other the distances they measured between the locations. To further link with mathematics learning, the children could discuss what shapes they could see at each location, or patterns and tessellations they could notice.

Have a go yourself at scanning the QR codes we made below!

Scan me! What shapes can you see in each picture?

Scan me! What shapes can you see in each picture?

As a teacher, I would need to make sure I had completed the measurements between each location so that the children could be given the correct measurements once they had returned to the classroom. They could then compare these correct measurements with the ones they recorded. They could discuss why their measurements are different, and how they could make their measurements a fairer test (this has a cross-curricular link with science), for example they may want to use the same person as ‘measurer’. Josh and I also talked about an activity which could be used to introduce the task; we decided the children could use their mathematical skills to make a realistic estimation of what the measurements would be between each location. They could record these and compare them with their final measurements once they have completed the QR trail.

Craig and Katy also focused their resource on using technology beyond the classroom, and created this video for children to use as a stimulus for writing their own stories. They could even record their stories on the iPads and edit them in MovieMaker to add music and text.


Geocaching App

Geocaching App

GeoCaching is where individuals – called GeoCachers – hide an item (either a tiny tube with a log book in it, a small box, medium box or large box – see photo below), which is usually camouflaged, in a hidden location. By using the GeoCache app, the GPS locator allows the user to follow the co-ordinates to the hidden box. The Cacher who hides the box can leave a hint too, and then the Cacher finding the GeoCache can write in its log book and leave a comment on the app to say they have found the item. Often, the bigger Caches also have lots of other items in them which are known to Geocachers as ‘swaps’; they can swap items like shells, bracelets, beads, coins, and other items. There are over 2.5 MILLION hidden GeoCaches worldwide and the best bit is… The app is FREE (GeoCache, n.d.)! This is beneficial as, often, schools have a limited computing budget. Hence, using free apps are a brilliant way of making use of what is available to us on the App Store.

Things GeoCaches could be disguised as...

Things GeoCaches could be disguised as…

I decided to have a go at Geocaching myself. This is useful before introducing an app like this to a class of children, as the teacher can familiarise themselves with the tools available on the app and how to use it effectively! I left my house and within 25 minutes I managed to find a GeoCache hidden in one of the local fields. It was well-hidden as the cacher had been very clever and hidden it inside a fallen, hollow tree! The GeoCache itself was a medium-sized, waterproof box with swaps and a log book in it. The person who hid it had even tied a string to the box so that, if the field were to flood, the GeoCache would stay put inside the tree.

Finding the Geocache (you can see the cache tied to a string in the very top of the picture!)

Finding the GeoCache in the hollow tree (you can see the GeoCache tied to a string in the very top of the picture!)

Children could be asked to hide their own Geocaches in small groups. They would need to plan how to keep their cache safe, where to hide it, what swaps and log book they would put in their cache, and what they would call their cache. This would require them to use their team-work and problem-solving skills. The children could be challenged to use social media, like a class Twitter page, to let others know they have hidden their cache.

GeoCaching has cross-curricular links with:

  • Science: children will need to know about waterproof materials in which they could keep their GeoCache
  • Art: children can discuss which colours could be used to camouflage their GeoCache and why (for example, would neon colours be good? Would greens or browns be better? Which would blend in with their hiding place?)
  • Maths: children need to plot points and co-ordinates in order for others to find their hidden GeoCache, and they need to be able to read co-ordinates in order to find other peoples’ GeoCaches
  • Geography: children need to be able to read the map on the app, know how to use GPS to track an object, and can discuss geology links, like rocks they come across on their travels
  • PSHE: children will need to work as a team, use thinking and problem-solving skills, and delegate roles within their group
  • English: as children need to write an interesting hint for the people finding their hidden GeoCache, and they need to think of a name for their GeoCache too.
The Geocaches hidden in the campus

The GeoCaches hidden in the campus

The screenshot above shows that there are even GeoCaches on the university campus! As part of my collaborative teaching approach, I decided to share my findings and knowledge about GeoCaching with the other tutors and student teachers on the Google Community page. I hope they can learn a bit more about GeoCaching through the research I have shared, and that it will inspire them to have a go at GeoCaching too.

A screenshot of my post on the Google Community page.

A screenshot of my post on the Google Community page.


Directed Reading 

To make my reading notes more interesting and accessible to other students, teachers and bloggers, I decided to put my reading notes into the PowToon presentation software! Furthermore, I have uploaded this video to my YouTube channel, and tweeted about it so that other teachers and students who follow me can gain knowledge from it too.


Reference List

Barrett, T. (n.d.) 40 Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes In The Classroom. Tom Barrett [online]. Available from: [18th November 2014].

Creative Education. (2011) 10 Reasons to Take Learning Outside the Classroom. Creative Education [online]. Available from: [19th November 2014].

GeoCache. (n.d.) GeoCaching. Ground Speak [online]. Available from: [18th November 2014].

Institute for Outdoor Learning. (n.d.) Why Outdoor Learning Matters. Institute for Outdoor Learning [online]. Available from: [19th November 2014].

National Association for Environmental Education UK. (2012) Learning Outside the Classroom (LOTC) with EE. National Association for Environmental Education UK [online]. Available from: [20th November 2014].

Rippledown Environmental Education Centre. (2014) Learning Outside the Classroom. Rippledown Environmental Education Centre [online]. Available from: [18th November 2014].

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