Computing Home Learning Resources

computing home learning
Free, engaging, activities for learning computing at home

At iCompute we recognise the huge impact that COVID-19 (coronavirus) has had on school communities and learning and we want to help. In situations such as these the power of digital home learning becomes increasingly evident – and important.

We are passionate about preparing children for living in the modern digital world. We teach children about and with technology. We want to encourage as many children as possible to engage with computing around the world and have created a set of home learning resources to support schools, parents and pupils continue to learn at home no matter where they are.

Created by our author, a primary computer science master teacher, we have fantastic, engaging, resources and activities suitable for children aged 4-11.

They are split into Key Stage 1 (ages 5-7) and Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11). Key Stage 1 activities are for younger children learning with their families and are computing unplugged – i.e. you do not need computers or devices.

KS1 computing home learning
Learning Together Computing Home Learning Activities (Ages 5-7)

Our Key Stage 2 activities are online step-by-step interactive tutorials teaching coding using a variety of free programming languages. They are designed for children to use on their own and to use them you need computers/devices with access to the Internet.

KS2 computing home learning
Step-by-step, interactive, online coding tutorials (Ages 7-11)

What all activities have in common is that they are underpinned by developing computational thinking: the fundamental principles of computer science. By engaging with them, children will understand and design algorithms, improve problem solving skills, use logical reasoning and learn how to code.

We hope you enjoy the resources and encourage you to share them so that children everywhere can catch up on computing and keep up – ready for going back to school!

Visit our website for more information about highly acclaimed series of primary computing schemes of work, computing curriculum and resources at www.icompute-uk.com

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. Now, with the benefit of feedback from schools using iCompute who’ve undergone a deep dive for computing, I explore what a deep dive for computing looks like with the aim of helping prepare computing leads.

I’ve also included a link (at the end of this post) to download a copy of my comprehensive guide to the Ofsted Framework and Ofsted Deep Dives for Computing which has been updated to include dozens of Ofsted Deep Dive questions our schools have been asked and support for addressing them.

Ofsted Deep Dive for Computing questions
Comprehensive set of Ofsted Deep Dive for Computing Questions
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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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COVID-19: Get free access to iCompute

for schools affected by school closure due to coronavirus

UPDATE: This post has been superceded by http://www.icompute-uk.com/news/computing-home-learning-resources/

With the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) now affecting educational institutions around the world, your school may need to close.

At iCompute we recognise the huge impact this situation has on a school community and are offering free access to our online Learn Programming and Computational Thinking resources for any school (anywhere) that is closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) during the period of closure.

Our Learn Programming and Computational Thinking resources are designed for independent pupil learning and can therefore be accessed by your pupils from home during school closure periods.

This access is offered free of charge for the duration of your school’s closure without any obligation or commitment to purchase any of our products.

Get Free Access

iCompute is passionate about preparing children for living in the modern digital world. We teach children about and with technology. In situations such as these, where external forces threaten our classrooms, the power of digital learning becomes increasingly evident – and important. We will continue to monitor current events and look for ways to support educators and pupils around the world continue learning, no matter where they are.

Find out more about Learning Programming resources here and our Computational Thinking resources in this post.

Visit our website for more information about highly acclaimed series of primary computing schemes of work, computing curriculum and resources at www.icompute-uk.com

Computing and SEND

Computing – Including Pupils with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)

iCompute Inclusion for SENAt iCompute we passionately believe that Computing has the potential to empower pupils with SEND and transform their lives. With the right blend of progressive, imaginative planning, exposure to a broad range of tools and technologies and comprehensive support it is possible that all children can fulfill their potential – in computing and throughout the curriculum.

Computing and Information Technology are essential tools for inclusion.  They enable children with SEND, whatever their needs, to use technology purposefully in ways that make the wider curriculum accessible, empower those with communication difficulties to engage with others and to fully include everyone in activities and learning.

iCompute offers children with SEND varied and engaging ways to communicate, collaborate, express ideas and demonstrate success.  From making and editing video/audio footage, programming animations, games and apps to creating rich web content – all pupils have an opportunity to participate, be challenged, learn and progress.

iCompute supports children with SEND by providing:

  • FamiliarityLessons follow similar patterns and all involve aspects that appeal to various learning styles
  • ParticipationActivities involve group or paired working with valuable roles for each member which encourages peer learning
  • Physical ActivitiesUnplugged activities (computing without a computer) makes it much easier to explore the concepts involved and to ask questions. This can be really beneficial to learners with communication or learning difficulties who find abstract concepts difficult and require a multimodal approach. Unplugged activities can include a range of sensory approaches, from physical movement to music, and from manipulating objects to drawing pictures.Unplugged activities enable the use of familiar contexts to teach new concepts and knowledge.  This approach helps to reduce cognitive load and has the additional benefit of being able to set the context in accordance with learner’s specific interests; which may motivate learning.

    Programming physical devices (E.g. Bee-bot) helps pupils learn to program by experiencing their code ‘come to life’ in multiple ways.  Devices with outputs that include sound, movement and light ensure learners with visual or auditory impairment are included.

  • ProgressionTasks are structured into smaller steps that build toward achieving the overall objective; which form part of progressive units of work providing full coverage of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
  • FlexibilityAll units have Core, Easier, Harder activities as well as a number of Extension/Enrichment ideas allowing teachers to cater for the individual needs of their pupils
  • RangeA range of teaching approaches and materials enable pupils to access learning. E.g. colourful support materials; engaging worksheets; video screencasts; imaginative unplugged activities and interactive online activities support pupil’s learning enabling them to achieve
  • AssessmentComprehensive assessment toolkit supported by interactive pupil progress tracker spreadsheets enable teachers to accurately assess progress and set targets. Assessment starts from P1 to Year 6 (P-Scales based on CAS Include Working Party revised scales)
  • VarietyA wealth of free software and online tools allow SEND pupils to demonstrate skills and progress, express ideas, improve digital literacy and boost self-confidence

To find out more about how our acclaimed primary computing schemes of work engage, include and challenge all pupils please visit www.icompute-uk.com

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:

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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