Computing Session 4: Extending Computing in Key Stage 1

Our objectives for today’s session were to establish ‘where does computer science fit into the curriculum?’, ‘How can we introduce computing skills to children?’, ‘What are the practical implications of teaching programming?’, ‘How can programming promote higher order thinking and problem solving?’

When I first looked at the National Curriculum and saw that ICT had been changed to computing, I initially thought it was just a change in title. However, before this session I also believed that in order for the requirements of the National Curriculum to be met in computing I also thought that this would be achieved through the children working on a computer. However, whilst this is true in the majority of cases it is also important to note that computing does not have to be achieved just through children using the computer, something which I soon discovered and learnt at the beginning of this session.

Elements of computing can be achieved either with or without the use of computing, in this session we explored how computing can be achieved through control programs both on and off the computer. From a pedagogical perspective, in the session we were informed that when starting to look at control programming with younger children (foundation and key stage one) it is best if they have opportunities to experience this through games and activities. This would include games such as simon says, everybody do this, head and shoulders and following directions in PE (cross-curricular approach). It is also important that from a young age, children are made aware of how they experience control within their own environment. This would include features such as: pelican crossings, light in the fridge, security lights, room thermostats, microwave and car park barriers.

Some of the control programming tools, applications and resources we looked at in the session have been listed below, I have spilt them into categories in order to establish the purpose the feature is used for:

–       Patterns and sequences:

–       Incredibox: online music game that allows the user to become a conductor of a group of human beat box

–       isle of tune: an application that allows the user to create an island of music

–       Floor robots:

–       Bee-bots: a programmable floor robot that teaches programming skills and directional language

–       Purple mash:

–       2 DIY: allows the user to create their own interactive flash resources, games, puzzles, activities etc.

–       2 animate: draw, scan or capture images to then create an animation and watch it back

–       Screen robots:

–       Textease turtle: logo program allowing the user to give instructions that are used to control floor robots

–       MSW logo: is an educational programming language

–       Imagine logo: used to control on-screen turtles, create procedures and build activities

–       Ipad apps:

–       Cato’s Hike: a programming application

–       Daisy the dinosaur: an application that introduces children to basic computer programming

–       Monster physics: an activity where the user has to design different ways of propelling objects e.g. rope, joints etc. and they then have to use these to complete missions such as get the fruit to the monster

–       Move the turtle: an application to teach children the basics of programming

–       Toca boca builder: allows the user to create a new world using blocks

–       Hop scotch: an application that teaches children to code using building blocks

Our task for today’s session was to create a lesson idea that combines an unplugged activity, a plugged activity and a real world activity. Both myself and Firouzeh Kern decided to work together to complete this task. We decided that our unplugged activity was going to link to the design and technology section of the curriculum through food and nutrition with the children having a go at making jam sandwiches. They would do this activity in groups with some of the children physically making the sandwich with other children recording each part of the process. After this, the children would then complete a plugged activity by typing up the processes into a flow chart to convey the process of making a jam sandwich. Finally, the children could have another go at making jam sandwiches by following another groups flow chart to see if they can create the sandwich or if steps have been missed out and the sandwich cannot be made because important steps are missing, e.g. using the knife get a small amount of butter out of the container. The reason we came up with activity, was to ensure that children were aware of control processes both on and off the computer. This activity also ensures that children become aware that the processes on and off the computer are linked, and that you need both in order for the whole process to be complete.

Our inspiration for this teaching idea came from the video that we watched at the beginning, which a teacher had used with his class. The video has been included below:

After today’s session I decided to explore some of the tools that were looked at during the session one of which was Bee-bots. This is an application that can be downloaded which corresponds with the floor robots programme Bee-bots. The app is free to download, and works by the user having to control the bee-bot to reach the flower through using the arrow keys displayed on the screen. The levels start off very basic and then progressively get harder. I think this is a great game for children who have not experienced computer programming before and children who may be slightly more advanced in order to provide them with a challenge (particularly on the higher levels!). An image of me having a go can be seen below:

bee bots- session 4

I also had the opportunity to explore the application Cato’s Hike, the reason being I began to explore this app towards the end of this computing session and didn’t properly get the hang of it so I wanted to have a second attempt. The game is another one which can be used by children to teach them how to control programs, it is a game I would not recommend to children who are knew to programming, as I myself found it quite difficult to understand the game and understand how it worked. However that being said, I think it would be a perfect application that could be used for upper key stage 2 and an activity to further more able children’s abilities. Although this is the case, I still prefer applications such as Bee-bot as I think they are a lot easier to navigate and more user friendly. An image of me trying out Cato’s Hike can be seen below:

catos hike-session 4

As some extra reading after the session I decided to read an article which can be accessed via the following web link: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/17/to-encourage-creativity-mr-gove-understand. This was an interesting article about the importance of having creativity within school, another interesting fact discussed in the article is the fact that Michael Gove (Secretary for education) is supportive of children being creative, yet with him wanting children to learn everything by rote it is very ironic that that is the case! This a theme that is discussed further within the article it also goes on to discuss how creativity can be achieved within the classroom. An image of the article can be seen below:

article 1- session 4

The second piece of extra reading I decided to conduct was another article which can be found from: http://readwrite.com/2012/05/17/computer-programming-for-all-a-new-standard-of-literacy#awesm=~ovcEWElHjpNQlk. The article was very topical covering an issue which is becoming increasingly more debated within schools ‘computer programming for all: the next literacy?’ The article discusses whether or not computer programming will be viewed of equal importance as literacy in the near future as it is becoming increasingly more important for future generations to have this skill before they go into employment. I felt that this was a very relevant issue, although only time will tell whether or not this will happen in the future, particularly with computer programming making up a good part of the new National Curriculum. Overall I think this an issue that will continue to be debated over the next few years. An image of the article can be seen below:

article 2- session 4

To conclude, before this session I was sceptical as to how computing could be achieved in Key Stage 1 as the idea of Computing is a complex idea. I therefore feel that in order for me to teach what we have learnt in this session well, I need to do more research and have more of a practice at using some of the tools looked at today. However I have enjoyed looking at the variety of tools that are out there to support both pupils and teachers.