30 Dec

Catch up on Coding

An inset plan for Primary Schools….

Coding has now been in Primary Schools for a term. This post looks at how you could spend an hour or so reviewing teacher resources and ideas which for teachers to check their knowledge.

Key Resources:

The Computing At School Progression Chart can be found here.

Somerset Authority site here has great links and ideas.

Specific language use for Scratch from Somerset

Planning and progression support from Simon Haughton’s website

A really easy to read mini-book by Simon Haughton.

Digital Storytelling – royalty free resources and other ideas here.

Ideas, map packs and resources for beebots here.

Barefoot Computing – excellent resources and ideas here



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

Begin with a look at progression – specific focus on language and vocabulary.

Starting with EYFS: – Key ideas here revolve around providing opportunities to talk about technology- using age appropriate vocabulary and language.
Some ideas are here

There is also a consideration about language and vocabulary for teacher knowledge- this site here is a great source of information.

2. Teacher knowledge – where to start! What is coding?
This is a good time to consider what coding actually is – and how much we, as teachers, are confident with the teaching of it. Good online starter activities can be found here – at code.org. A discussion around why we are teaching coding would be useful – will it support other areas of the school curriculum? Are we teaching discreet units- or should it feed into other areas of the curriculum? Much of this will be school specific, but there are some obvious links…

It is also important here to stress that we need to model the good use of technology as well. Consider how often we use technology as part of our professional and personal life. Do the pupils in your class see this? Have you used apps such as Skype to connect your classrooms? Started emailing with other schools? Collected ideas and thoughts with a service such as Padlet? These type of activities are super easy – but model how technology can be used to support learning.

3. Linking our curriculum with Scratch, and Espresso Coding – iPad apps and on paper!
Digital Storytelling
Beebots – a huge fan of bee bots  – they can be used for maths, literacy and exploratory activities. (Video from TTS)


Other areas to look at – how the internet works:


Download (PDF, 619KB)

4. Taking it further….

Unit plans: Consider how specific areas of your curriculum can be used to teach the computing curriculum. There are many great ideas in the resources (above) – and an example from a previous year (below)

Download (DOCX, 47KB)



Subject Coordinators, or particularly interested teachers may wish to take on further study for coding – Code Avengers offers free introductory courses. Future Learns excellent MOOCS also offer a free teach computing course. 

How is the computing curriculum settling in at your school? We would love to hear!





28 Dec

Ubuntu in School – Part II

Putting Ubuntu on our old Windows XP computers was a way of trying to breathe new life into the machines – making them useable again. That post is here.

It has made machines accessible for internet based work – bur schools often need more than that. At the end of the term I think some questions need answering…

What did Linux do?

I put on most of the machines Linux Ubuntu – but it turned out that this was a little too power hungry for some of the machines. On the laptops it was fine, I downloaded and installed a few basic programmes – inlcuding this open whiteboard software, Open Sankore. On others we struggled, I tried a few very stripped down versions, including Puppy Linux and children’s versions such as Qimo and Sugar on a Stick. The computers worked very well with these, but they were older operating systemz and not easy to update. This meant that software we needed, such as up to date internet browsers were difficult to locate and install.

What can the machines used for?

Laptops with Ubuntu on can be used for most purposes – but as they were not connected to the school shared drives (we are moving over to Google Drive) – this limited the usefulness for some. However I envouraged the use as if it were a chromebook. An updated browser was therefore crucial. The educational suite, GCompris, was also on the machines, providing some basic educational based games.

What were the machines actually used for?

In practice, the machines have actually been used by children more than staff. The pupils find adapting to an unfamiliar operating system much easier and actually enjoy finding things to do. I put a choice of Linux OS on some machines and this may have been a mistake as it put people off experimenting. Easy access to the internet is key. The machines are in shared spaces currently and children will choose to use them.

What’s next?

Decisions need to be made – there are still lots of the XP machines around school!! The chromebooks have been more useful and so easy to pick up for pupils and teachers.

  • I’ve started using the Digital Leaders in school to review the use of the machines and share it with other children and teachers.
  • Time is a huge problem. Teachers need time to explore, and this year, with the huge amount of change is already proving a big challenge on inset and staff meetings.
  • I’m going to perservere – giving a new lease of life to these machines is very useful and I think pupils do need to experience other operating systems.











13 Dec

Digital Badges and Motivation

My brand new Digital Leaders have been trying the brilliance that is the makewav.es site.

For those not clear, makewav.es provides a safe environment for pupils to share blogs, video, stories and photos about subjects which can be linked to digital badges. This then allows you (the teacher/ administrator person) to set tasks, award badges and keep an eye on progress.

A great idea, but one I wasn't sure about for primary. Sure, the pupils enjoyed logging in, shared stories and quickly got the idea but would it work in the long term?

Answer – it does – but like anything else it is based on the preparation. Makewaves allows you to create 3 free badges as part of it's entry-level free package. However, it also allows you to use any other badge created. Enter the fantastic content-creator @gr8ict – who has an amazing site here explaining everything. He, along with @pederosa has created a whole framework of levelled activities linked to badges, meaning that I can award my digital leaders badges for safeguarding activities, presenting, teaching etc.

This is the gamechanger, as a small school we don't have the resources to create our own framework of badges and tasks and without them the site just becomes a blog. The free 'open' badges are perfect – and there are lots of them. My digital leaders have shared their advice, uploaded photos of themselves leading assemblies and, more recently, shared their experience of leading the Hour of Code. They then notify me and wait to gain their 'digital badges'. They have yet to ask me for a physical badge. It seems sharing the digital is enough, at the moment, and as it is an online platform they can share these badges with folks at home easily enough!


Of course you are not limited to Digital Leader work. I already put my Code Club members on there and used a free code club badge another school had created! (Code club should create their own open badges of course…)

It may a bit much for all busy class teachers, and to purchase the full premium license will be a bit out of the reach for schools like mine, but to focus clubs, or to generate a spark it is fab! It could be used to track progress of reflection and evaluation – as I type I'm already thinking of how it could be used for pupil transition reflection!

Check out the site – and the fantastic levelled Digital Leader resources. And let me know how you are using the resource!