April 26

A scheme of work for Primary Computing?

Do we need a scheme of work for primary computing?

An interesting discussion over on the Computing At School site had me thinking about the various schemes of work that have been made available for Primary Schools over the last year for computing. There seems to be a huge rush to make ‘computing’ as easy as all of the other schemes that are out there for aspects of the curriculum, and the well worn and recognised companies have delivered their wares..

It’s worth considering that some of these ‘coding’ lesson are add ons to the existing package (and in many cases have been offered free of charge this year) – in that case they may be of some use for staff anyway.

2 Simple 

Rising Stars – Switch on ICT 

Education City (existing subscribers) 

Espresso (existing subscribers – free for a limited time)

However there are lots of reasons why you don’t need to buy in to a new scheme of work..

Depending how far you went with the old curriculum staff in your school will be aware of many of the elements of the new computing curriculum already. Upon sharing Scratch with staff many commented how it was just like Logo – which is true. Many will be familiar with control, roamers, beebots etc… You will probably have some of these items in school already.

Lots of tech tools and coding tools are around that cost nothing – some mentioned here – the fact that you are reading this suggests that you can experiment with one or two and build them into your curriculum.

Now is the chance to tailor your curriculum, and the coding elements can be a really creative and tailored element of that – remember if you purchase a scheme you will lose that freedom.

Give teachers the chance to try the different tools – why limit what the school uses before you’ve had the chance to really play?

 

It would be interesting to see how schools get on with this – I think introducing new curriculum is the perfect time to tailor it to what your school would like to do.

So where do you start?

Take a look at the work done by other schools and teachers already, here is how I started . There is a great resource here, crowd sourced, for teacher training.

There is an easy to read checklist here  and the brilliant resource by Simon Haughton here.

In short there is lots and lots of help!

Ask some key questions:

  • How shall we show progression through the school?
  • What experiences do we want our children to have?

More importantly – let people have a play! Time to get to grips with anything new is always in short supply!

Feel free to leave any questions, ideas, or further resources here!

Link to No Hands Up here – site with great ideas!

 

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April 24

Five fab free ed tech tools!!

wpid-Photo-20140424225253.jpgWhilst I recognise that we shouldn’t always expect tools and services completely free of charge, there are many great tools that can be used in the primary school free of charge!

 

  1. Skype – check out the Skype in the Classroom site here. Great for inspiring ideas, connecting with all kinds of experts. I have a couple posts on this site describing my Skype Adventures!
  2. Padlet – a great tool for collaboration and sharing ideas. The ‘walls’ can be embedded into a blog, and then be accessed from home. Also great for use in staff meetings to collate ideas.
  3. Haiku Deck – a really great free presentation tool that is also an app. Super easy to use, and with a very different feel to PowerPoints – the images are great, and because it can be logged on over different devices can also be used for collaboration and critique.
  4. Scratch – the darling of the Primary Coders at the moment, I have written about a couple of projects here, and there is lots of advice at the fantastic Code-It.co.uk website.
  5. Twitter! I can’t stress enough what great CPD can be found on twitter – and for beginners there is a great guide here from the Bring a Teacher to Twitter group and a great guide for beginners here.

I really could go on… But thought 5 for teachers to investigate would be a good start! Would love to hear of your favourite free tools.

Thanks for reading!



 

March 20

Creating a Simple Quiz with Scratch

Finding different ways to bring Scratch into the classroom has been a focus for me this term! Not that we haven't found it interesting, or fun, but I have been looking for ways to build it into the curriculum and to make it something that can be (at least a bit) cross curricula..

 

So, for STEM week this year (the annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths focus – info here) I set our Year 6s and Digital Leaders a challenge – design a science quiz and build it in Scratch.

Use of Scratch for this required two new (for this group) skills:

  1. The 'variable' concept
  2. Debugging and quality assuring

The 'variable' concept becomes incredibly straightforward the minute you use it – on the online version it is 'data'. Put simply, create and name the variable (e.g score) and then, when certain answers are inputted, add to the variable.

Begin by using the 'condition' like in this example – 'if, else'

Then extend it by adding the instruction to change the variable:

(Thanks to code-it.co.uk for the images I forgot to take!!)
All of this is lovely and simple so far, but it does lead to some deeper thinking by the children. A science quiz may not always allow for an easy and recogniseable answer – the children were forced to think about how the answer would be inputted e.g. Using letter input for a multiple choice quiz, 'true and false' or even precise one word answers..

This led us nicely to the 'debugging' side of things… Using the online account the children were able to look at each other's quizzes and find any problems. This led us to have a go at changing the input for the questions and the way it scored. They very much enjoyed 'tweaking' an example that I put up there… (above)

 

All in all this took around three hours, and as I said the children were able to use Scratch slightly at the beginning. It is very simple, definitely, but the children were quickly able to find better ways of running quizzes. Using sprites, for example, as multiple choice buttons.

 

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