How to thrive during an Ofsted Deep Dive for Computing

Ofsted will be “deep diving” into a selection of subjects during their inspections with the “curriculum at the heart of inspection” focusing on curriculum intent, implementation and impact. I’ve previously written an article on this called inspecting computing for computing subject leaders. Here, I explore what a deep dive for computing is likely to look like with the aim of helping prepare computing leads.

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A Christmas Coding Lesson with PRIMM

Christmas Gift Catch

Christmas Coding Activity

Regular readers will know that I’ve previously created a 6 week coding unit for pupils aged 9-11 using BitsBox.  Bitsbox uses a simplified version of Javascript, and provides tools that enable pupils to develop their own apps.

It’s a great stepping stone from the blocks-based languages and environments your pupils may have already mastered (E.g. Scratch, App Inventor, Tynker etc) on to text-based languages.

PRIMM

I’ve been researching pedagogies to support computing mastery and PRIMM is a programming pedagogy developed by Dr Sue Sentence and the Computing Education team at Kings College London based on the notion that its difficult to become successful at writing code if you cannot read it.

I have created a Christmas themed step-by-step lesson plan that uses Bitsbox and I’m using the PRIMM approach for teaching programming.

PRIMM
Predict | Run | Investigate | Modify | Make

PRIMM stands for Predict | Run | Investigate | Modify | Make.  The approach enables teachers to support pupils by giving them some code that they first understand and then build upon towards making their own.

It’s a great way to structure a lesson and think it’ll make a real difference to those pupils who have difficulty understanding some programming concepts.

Christmas Coding Activity Plan
Click to access the plan & resources

Feel free to download this lesson and try PRIMM in your own classroom.

Use the PRIMM programming approach to develop a program from a Christmas gift catching game into a new game

Challenge your pupils to design algorithms and program the game using a text-based programming language, variables and functions.

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As usual, lots of opportunities for differentiation.  For instance, less able pupils could use pupil support cards (see support resource which is included in the pack) and/or write a more simple version.  Your more able pupils could:

  • change the speed, direction and size falling presents
  • make the game multi-player and multi-level
  • complete the game to a time
  • create Game Over functions
  • create sound tracks and jingles for the app

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative.

Check out my other coding lesson that uses BitsBox at http://www.icompute-uk.com/news/coding-apps/

Find out more about PRIMM and the research at https://icomp.site/primm

Explore computing pedagogy further aqt:

Ofsted Inspection Framework: for Computing Subject Leaders

Inspecting Computing

The new Ofsted Inspection Framework [3] came into effect in September 2019.  With the emphasis on ‘offering a curriculum that is broad, rich and deep’, here I take a look at its implications for Computing Subject Leaders.

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Computing Pedagogy

for Computing Mastery

Since the introduction to National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 in England 2014, it has been a child’s statutory entitlement to a computing education from the age of 5. There have been many challenges along the way since 2014 for primary teachers, not least, due to the subject being introduced throughout schools where the vast majority of teachers had never been trained to teach it.

Despite a number initiatives to improve teacher subject knowledge, notably driven by Computing At Schools (CAS) and the Network of Excellence (a grass-roots organisation I represent as a Computer Science Master Teacher) the Computing Education Project Report (The Royal Society, 2017) – exploring the issues facing computing in schools – concludes that computing education across the UK is ‘patchy and fragile’. There is much to address in a system where many teachers do not feel confident teaching the subject and are in need of significant support.

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Computing Mastery for Primary Schools

Achieving Computing Mastery

Computing Mastery

Computing Mastery

 

Mastery in computing means acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject.  It is demonstrated by how skillfully a child can apply their learning in computing to new situations in unfamiliar contexts.

A positive teacher mindset and strong subject knowledge are key to student success in computing.  iCompute aims to enhance students’ enjoyment, resilience, understanding and attainment in computing by empowering and equipping schools to deliver a world-class computing education with comprehensive computing schemes of work that are designed for computing mastery.

Our Principles for Mastery

Success

Every child can enjoy and succeed in computing when offered appropriate learning opportunities.  iCompute uses growth mindset and problem-solving approaches that enable pupils to develop resilience, persistence and confidence.  All children are encouraged to believe in their ability to master computing and are empowered to succeed through curiosity, tinkering and perseverance.

Depth

Pupils are taught through whole-class interactive teaching with pupils working together on the same lesson content at the same time.  Concepts are developed in logical steps with particular attention given to fundamental concepts. This ensures that all children can master concepts before moving to the next stage, with no pupil left behind.

Pupils are given the time and opportunity to fully understand, explore and apply skills and ideas in different ways, in different situations and in different subjects.  This enables pupils to fully grasp a concept and understand the relevance of their learning.

Computational Thinking

Developing computational thinking lies at the heart of the National Curriculum for Computing and involves learning how people solve problems; changing what looks like a difficult task into a simple one that we know how to deal with.

It involves taking a problem and breaking it down into a series of smaller, more manageable parts (decomposition). Each part can then be looked at individually, considering similarities between and within other problems (pattern recognition), and focusing only on the important details whilst ignoring irrelevant information (abstraction). Next, looking for solutions to other problems and adapting them to solve new problems (generalisation).  Then, simple steps or rules to solve each of the smaller problems can be designed (algorithms).  Once we have a working solution, we then use (evaluation) to analyse it and ask – Is it any good ? Can it be improved? How?

Computational Thinking

Computational Thinking

Computational thinking is developed by embedding these skills into all of our lessons, through teacher modelling and with targeted questioning.

Unplugged Activities

The judicious use of activities away from devices and computers (unplugged) are crucial to young children’s learning in computing. Our unplugged activities are physical in nature and provide kinaesthetic experiences which help pupils understand abstract concepts and deepen learning.  Having activities away from computers is effective as children know that computers are a tool in their learning, rather than the subject itself.  Stepping away from computers enables them to think about concepts and teachers can convey fundamentals that are independent of particular software or technology.

What children learn in the unplugged context must be applied to another (plugged: using technology) which supports our other principles of mastery: success and depth.

Find out more about computing pedagogy for mastery by reading this blog post – http://www.icompute-uk.com/news/computing-pedagogy/ and more about our primary computing schemes of work by visiting www.icompute-uk.com

Teach EYFS Computing – Computing in the Foundation Stage

EYFS Computing

Laying Solid Foundations for Primary Computing

EYFS ComputingOur children grow up surrounded by technology. Their everyday interactions and experiences involve it, whether that is inside their homes, at school, out shopping or playing. EYFS Computing - BETT Awards 2018

Their world is an ever-changing digital world. We owe it to our children to prepare them for living in it.  It is never too early for children to start learning the fundamental principles of computer science because, as Edsger Dijkstra famously pointed out “Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes” (attrib) .

Much of computing as a subject can be learned without using computers at all. Primary aged pupils are perfectly capable of understanding and executing algorithms. They do so every day: they use algorithms to solve problems in mathematics, learn letter sounds, spell, use grammar – I could go on and on! Algorithms are designed and can be applied in a myriad of different situations.  Understanding them has become a core skill because, increasingly, the world we live in is governed by them.

Computing is much more than the computer, the device or the tool. It’s about developing computational thinking skills (more on that in this post) so that our children can become effective, analytical, problem solvers. It’s also about equipping children with an understanding about how computers and computer systems work so that, combined, they develop transferrable skills which will enable them to design, develop or even just adapt to new tools and technologies in this ever changing digital age.  But much more importantly, they develop digital literacy: the ability to be able to express themselves and communicate ideas using tools and technology and participate fully in the modern digital world.

The best practice for Computing in the Early Years (EYFS computing) is where activities:

  • are imaginative and fun
  • challenge
  • involve being creative
  • require collaboration and sharing
  • involve listening, understanding, following and giving instructions
  • encourage describing, explaining and elaborating
  • encourage investigation
  • involve problem solving
  • include lots of ‘unplugged’ activities: computing without computers

By offering your children an imaginative, engaging, introduction to computing you help them make solid steps towards understanding the world.

iCompute’s expertise and innovation in teaching & learning with, and about, technology has been recognised by BETT and BESA with iCompute in the EYFS being nominated for two awards.  Find out what BESA (chair of the judging panel) has to say about the finalists:

iCompute ERA Awards 2017

iCompute BETT Awards 2018

icompute-schemes

Click to find out more

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Primary Computing Assessment

Computing Tests & Tasks

 

Computing Assessment Sample

Click/Tap to download

iCompute’s Computing Assessment Tests and Tasks – designed to complement our comprehensive Primary Computing Schemes of Work and existing assessment toolkit – is out now.

Developed by our author – a computer scientist and primary computer science master teacher – the tasks and tests support schools in accurately assessing attainment, pupil progress and target setting in primary computing.

For each iCompute unit for each year, we have produced an associated end of unit online diagnostic test and an end of unit assessment project. Diagnostic testing assists progression planning and helps identify gaps and/or misconceptions. The end of unit assessment projects enable teachers to check skills in computing and computational thinking. The provided answers and assessment guidance informs assessment judgements and can be fed into our interactive digital pupil progress trackers.

Our diagnostic tests match the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. They are divided into iCompute units and are intended for use following each unit to assess pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills.

Our interactive, fun, quizzes are played online and bring a gamification aspect to assessment. Aside from being a powerful tool in measuring pupil progress, they also help increase engagement, motivation and encourage children to challenge themselves.

IT Progression

Forming part of our acclaimed primary computing schemes of work, our Tasks & Tests pack is available to buy from iCompute.

For more tips and advice about computing assessment see our post – How to assess primary computing.

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Planning Computing

How to plan a Primary Computing Scheme of Work

 

iCompute Primary Computing Scheme

Primary Computing Scheme

Many teachers are tasked with planning computing schemes of work for their schools.

Having produced many for iCompute, I know how huge and time consuming the task is.  Here I share my tips about how to plan a computing scheme of work which ensures your school has a broad, balanced, rich and progressive scheme of work that will engage and challenge pupils of all abilities.

computing progression

  1. Use free software and tools – you don’t need to buy a thing in order to meet the objectives of the computing curriculum
  2. Practice – helps you understand the knowledge, skills and understanding the software and tools help develop
  3. Look for progression – you will start to see that particular tools are suitable for specific age groups
  4. Look for full coverage – Computing is not just about coding
  5. Understand how to assess computing – know where your pupils are and where they need to go next
  6. Adapt – make it fit your school, staff and needs of your pupils

Read on to find out more about each stage … Continue reading

Summer Coding Lesson with PRIMM

Ice Cream Dodge

Regular readers will know that I’ve previously created a 6 week coding unit for pupils aged 9-11 using BitsBox.  Bitsbox uses a simplified version of Javascript, and provides tools that enable pupils to develop their own apps.

It’s a great stepping stone from the blocks-based languages and environments your pupils may have already mastered (E.g. Scratch, App Inventor, Tynker etc) on to text-based languages.

PRIMM

I’ve been researching pedagogies to support computing mastery and PRIMM is a programming pedagogy developed by Dr Sue Sentence and the Computing Education team at Kings College London based on the notion that its difficult to become successful at writing code if you cannot read it.

I have developed a new step-by-step lesson plan that uses Bitsbox and I’m using the PRIMM approach for teaching programming in this one. 

PRIMM
Predict | Run | Investigate | Modify | Make

PRIMM stands for Predict | Run | Investigate | Modify | Make.  The approach enables teachers to support pupils by giving them some code that they first understand and then build upon towards making their own.

It’s a great way to structure a lesson and think it’ll make a real difference to those pupils who have difficulty understanding some programming concepts.

Feel free to download this lesson and try PRIMM in your own classroom.

Bitsbox lesson plan
Download the Lesson Plan

Use the PRIMM programming approach to develop a program from an ice cream dodging game into a variation of Hungry Hippos.

Challenge your pupils to design algorithms and program the game using a text-based programming language, variables and functions.

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As usual, lots of opportunities for differentiation.  For instance, less able pupils could use pupil support cards (see support resource which is included in the pack) and/or write a more simple version.  Your more able pupils could:

  • change the speed, direction and size of flying ice creams
  • make the game multi-play and multi-level
  • complete the game to a time
  • create Game Over functions
  • create sound tracks and jingles for the app

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative.

Check out my other coding lesson that uses BitsBox at http://www.icompute-uk.com/news/coding-apps/

Find out more about PRIMM and the research at https://icomp.site/primm

Explore computing pedagogy further aqt:

Easter Computing 🐰 Free Themed Coding Activities

Get Rolling 🥚 with Easter 🐰 Themed Computing

Easter is just around the corner and I’ve been busy creating more themed computing activities so that your pupils can demonstrate their computational thinking and coding skills.

Easter Egg Hunt

Click to get the plan and resources

I’ve prepared step-by-step lesson plans and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using and have added to iCompute to celebrate Easter and/or Spring.

It’s Easter and the Easter Bunny has forgotten where she has hidden all of her eggs.  Challenge your pupils to create algorithms and program the bunny to get all of her eggs in her basket any way they know.

Easter Scratch Program

Easter Egg Hunt Support Card

Pupil Support Card

As usual, lots of opportunities for differentiation.  For instance, less able pupils could use pupil support cards (see Egg Hunt card which is included in the pack) and/or write a more simple collecting less eggs.  Your more able pupils could:

  • program the ice-cream truck sprite to move across the x-axis
  • program the hot-air balloon to fly
  • add the Easter eggs to a list variable when collected
  • add ‘enemies’ to thwart the Easter Bunny in her quest
  • add extra, increasingly difficult, levels (e.g. mazes to navigate)

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative.

I’ve also created an Easter Egg Hiding Robotics activity using Sphero SPRK+ and Sphero Edu.  The Easter Bunny (Sphero) needs your help programming it to hide a collection of Easter Eggs (hollow plastic balls or eggs filled with treats).  Lots of cross curricular links here with Science and Mathematics so get rolling.

iHide Eggs

Click for the plan and resources

I haven’t forgotten Key Stage 1, so out my free Key Stage 1 activity: programming the Easter Bunny to collect Eggs – a twist on the BeeBot app.

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