Our objectives for our fifth computing session were to cover the following key questions; 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?
Initially before this session, I felt a bit anxious about computing as although I had got to grips with it in session 4 for children who are in key stage one, I felt unsure about how the expectations could be upped in key stage two particularly as to me as I associate the idea of computing as being quite complex. However after this session I know longer feel that this is the case.
The resources we explored in the session are as follows:
– Purple mash: website with a variety of topic based interactive activities
– Kodu: allows children to create games using simple programming language
– Cargo bot: computing programming game for children
– Daisy the dinosaur: an application that introduces children to basic computer programming
– A.L.E.X: puzzle and brain training game
– Hopscotch: an application that teaches children to code using building blocks
– Cato’s Hike: a programming application for children
– Bee-bots: a programmable floor robot that teaches programming and directional language
– Move the turtle: an application to teach children the basics of programming
– Eden: an app that allows the user to build their own world
– Toca boca builder: allows the user to create a new world using blocks
– Creator verse: enables the unique to become an inventor, and set their unique creations in motion
– Monster verse: an application full of monster verse comics
– Sketch nation: a drawing application
– Scratch: programming language that allows you to create your own stories
It is important that when the practitioner looks at planning for key stage two they think about; using talk productively, developing problem solving skills, the make-test debug sequence, ensuring challenge for all, promoting independence, opportunities for peer review and feedback and finally, opportunities for assessment.
In this session both myself, Firouzeh Kern and Emma Perring had a go at using the programming software scratch. I recall using scratch in my first year blog, however it was a programme that was installed on the computer in the ICT suite. This time, scratch is now available as a free resource online, all the user needs to do is sign up. We decided that we would have a go at trying to create something using the scratch resource cards that can be downloaded from the website. An image of the card we had a go at using in the session can be seen below:
I felt that the resource cards were very effective as they are straight forward and easy to follow, something that a child in either key stage one or two could use in order to create something using their computing programming skills. After further research I discovered that on the card there is a number which indicates the level of difficulty for the programme. This means that the teacher can differentiate within their lesson depending on the level of difficulty they want the children to be working at or whether or not they want to give them a higher level of difficulty to extend their programming skills.
We created the program by following the step-by-step instructions on the resource card. Once we had completed the program, we realised that it was quite short in terms of length (only lasting a couple of seconds) we therefore decided to repeat the instructions a few times in order to lengthen the program. What we created can be seen below:
My directed study for this session was to document the development of my programming skills and how they have changed since undertaking these computer sessions in year two as well as to discuss how programming can be used to enhance teaching and learning. I feel that in my computing sessions so far this year my major development in programming is learning how to programme itself. This is because, before my sessions covering programming I was completely unfamiliar with programming and felt very anxious because of this! As mentioned previously, I recalled using scratch however I didn’t really view this as ‘programming’ I also found using scratch last year a lot more complicated. I feel that moving on from programming it is now something I feel more confident with and have a better understanding of computer programming. Although this is the case it is not something which I feel 100% confident to teach in the classroom yet, however this is nothing that can’t be fixed with looking at further resources and tools that are out there to support me. As well as just having a go and trying out using programming in the school!
After this session I decided to further explore some of the tools in the session to develop my subject knowledge. The first of which was the application move the turtle, a programming tool for children. The app aims to be suitable for children aged 5+ and is said to be an introduction to computer programming. When using this app, I found it easy once I got the hang of it I also feel unsure as to whether or not this app would be appropriate for children aged 5, whilst it is relatively simple I think this would be better suited as a beginner application to computer programming for children aged 7+. An image of me having a go at move the turtle can be seen below:
Another tool I decided to explore was sketch nation, this is a tool that I am unfamiliar with as it is not something which I had heard of before or seen used in schools. The application can be downloaded onto iphones or ipads for free. The app, wasn’t what I expected it to be although admittedly I was hesitant as to how a sketching game can be used to teach children the skills of computer programming. However the app allows you to program and therefore create your own game based around what you sketch. I really enjoyed using this app and can see that it would be great fun for children to have a go at using, an image of me playing the game I created ‘jumping fun’ can be seen below:
As part of my extra reading for this week I decided to explore I decided to explore another article that can be found online titled ‘computer science Vs. ICT’. I chose this article because I thought it was a highly relevant and interesting topic particularly with the new National Curriculum coming into practice this year and ICT no longer existing in the National Curriculum as it has been replaced with computing, I thought this to be a good read. The article discusses how computer science is different to ICT as well as providing useful sessions for how computing can be taught without the use of computers. The article can be found at the following web address: http://www.resources.digitalschoolhouse.org.uk/recommended-reading/174-dsh-recommended-computing. An image of the article can be seen below:
The final piece of extra reading I undertook was of another article, which again can be found online. This article was titled ‘what do we need our teachers to be?’ and it contained a variety of skills and qualities that are essential for all teachers to possess. As well as this the article also discussed things that teachers need to think about as we move further into the 21st century. Overall, an interesting read that questions teachers to think about the skills they hold. The article can be found at the following web address: http://plpnetwork.com/2012/03/02/what-do-we-need-our-teachers-to-be/. An image of the article can be seen below:
To conclude, I feel I have learnt a lot in this weeks this session and the prospect of teaching computing no longer feels as daunting! I also enjoyed having the opportunity to revisit scratch this week and I feel that I have developed my skills a lot as well as exploring some of the other resources available.