The Hour of Code is Coming!
Not long to go now for the Hour of Code 2017 (December 4th – 10th) and we can’t wait to see how many pupils and schools participate around the world.
iCompute are delighted to partner with code.org again this year by providing lots of fun, creative, activities for schools to use as part of this event and throughout the year. We’ve put together, free, Christmas themed lessons and lots more, including saving Santa with Scratch, animating a snowman and delivering Santa’s presents with parrot drones! Included are detailed step-by-step lesson plans with built in differentiation and creative ideas for extension and enrichment.
The Hour of Code™ is a global movement and worldwide effort to celebrate computer science. Organised by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org it reaches tens of millions of students in 180+ countries through a one-hour introduction to computer science and computer programming.
In England, children have a statutory entitlement to a computer science education from the age of five. iCompute provides full coverage for the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
Each year, we offer free computing lesson plans and computing resources to support the Hour of Code™ and help raise awareness of and engagement in computing science around the world.
BETT Award 2018 Nomination for iCompute!
We are thrilled to announce that iCompute has been shortlisted for a coveted BETT Award for iCompute in the EYFS.
The Bett Awards are a celebration of the inspiring creativity and innovation that can be found throughout technology for education. The awards form an integral part of Bett each year, the world’s leading showcase of education technology solutions.
The Director of BESA, Patrick Hayes, who chairs the panel of judges for the Bett Awards, said:
“This was a record year for the Bett Awards, with more applications from EdTech companies than ever before, coming in from around the world. This reflects the status of the Bett Awards as being the global gold standard when it comes to recognising excellence in education technology. The quality of applications was incredibly high this year, and judges had a lot of difficult decisions to make when deciding who the finalists should be. It is no mean feat to be a Bett Awards finalist, and huge congratulations should be in order for all of the companies who made the cut this year!”
The panel of judges selected iCompute for the shortlist according to rigorous criteria, taking into consideration the innovative nature of the products, their impact on teaching and learning in the classroom, and their cost effectiveness in terms of educational aims and results.
Find out more about iCompute in the EYFS.
Liane O’Kane, Managing Director of iCompute, comments:
“Being shortlisted as a BETT finalist this year is a great achievement and a reflection of our dedication and hard work in helping schools teach primary computing creatively and well. We constantly add to and update our product range to remain at the forefront of advances in educational technology. We never take these things for granted and are very proud that our expertise and innovation in teaching & learning with, and about, technology has been recognised by BETT and BESA once again. Fingers crossed for a win this year!’
The full list of finalists is available on Besa’s website. The winners of the Bett Awards 2018 will be announced on the evening of Wednesday 24 January 2018.
Create a Halloween Web page
Teachers and pupils alike love a themed lesson so I’ve created a new activity for Halloween computing that teaches basic HTML/CSS for pupils aged 9-11.
Each term, I create free themed computing lessons and I’ve written another step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using in my computing classes and have added to iCompute’s primary computing schemes of work. This activity has been adapted from a cross-curricular computing lesson in iCompute Across the Curriculum.
Halloween is approaching and you’re having a party! Using basic HTML and CSS your pupils will create an invitation to their party in the form of a web page. In this activity children learn how HTML formats web content and CSS styles it using age-appropriate syntax and tools.
Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan. Plus HTML tutorial for teacher and pupil support. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative!
The Magnificent Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace had it worse, but as one of the few women undertaking a Computing Science degree in the 90’s, I’m used to being a minority. I’ve never understood why it is such a male dominated industry because I love it. I don’t put this down to sexism. Throughout my studies and beyond in the workplace as a software engineer and, later, project manager I have been treated with respect at all times by men in my field.
I have my own theories about why girls don’t take to computer science as wholeheartedly as their male counterparts and they are, in my opinion, largely down to teaching – or lack thereof. Which is why it’s great that, here in the UK, learning computer science is statutory from the age of 5 because it allows us teachers the (almost unique) opportunity to engage girls early in this creative and fascinating subject. Not just enabling them to enter into the tech industry later if they want to but because it’s absolutely crucial to know how to communicate, collaborate and express yourself in the modern digital world.
In her blog post of 2009 (when Ada Lovelace Day was born) Suw Charman-Anderson speaks of research pointing to need for women to need to see female role models. If that’s true then, given the amount of women teaching computing in the UK, we should surely see an upsurge in engagement in computing by girls and, empowerment through it! That is, if their role model’s are good ones; who show a passion and enthusiasm for the subject and teach it in creative, fun and challenging ways. I hope that, since its introduction into the National Curriculum in 2014, we are making good strides towards achieving this. There’s no excuse not to as there is a wealth of support and resources available to support teachers and schools. I regularly produce free lesson plans and support materials to, hopefully, inspire and motivate teachers of primary computing.
This Ada Lovelace day (10th October 2017) I’ve put together a step-by-step lesson plan and supporting resources adapted from iCompute’s Cross Curricular Computing pack for teaching Computing with History. Suitable for pupils aged 7-11, it involves researching Ada Lovelace and producing a webpage about their findings using basic HTML.
Download and use to show your pupils how women have been instrumental in the transformation of the technological world.
How to code an Autumn leaf catching game
Goodbye summer, hello a brand new academic year. We know you’ve got plenty on your plate already with new pupils and all of the many other changes a new year brings. Make your computing lessons easier this term and use our free coding lesson: an autumnal themed falling leaf game for pupils aged 7-11 using Scratch.
Each term, I create free (seasonal) computing lessons, and I’ve written another step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using in my computing classes and am adding to iCompute this Autumn.
Autumn is here and catching a falling leaf before it hits the ground means you get one happy day! Challenge your pupils to program sprites to catch falling autumn leaves. Catch ten and program something awesome to happen any way they know how to!
Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan. Plus program templates and partially-written programs for teacher and pupil support. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative!
New Year, New Tech
Some schools have been teaching primary computing since its introduction into the National Curriculum in 2014 and some have yet to really get going. Either way, the very nature of Computing is that things change rapidly and it’s time to start doing something new.
One of the things I like best about Computing is that you can’t churn out the same old lessons year on year. Technology’s rapid development demands we pay attention to change; that we learn; that we adapt and, most importantly, that we create.
We owe it to our pupils to keep abreast of pedagogical and technological change. I’ve put together a selection of the fantastic computing resources, tools and technologies that I use to teach Computing, some of which you’ll know but lots of which I hope are new and you’ll give a go. I’ve turned it into a periodic table of primary computing resources, now with hyperlinks! I keep banging on about this but Computing is more than just coding and lots of the resources listed here are for you to use with your pupils to teach the other strands of the curriculum (digital literacy, information technology and eSafety) as well as to use with cross curricular approaches.
There are many, many, more and I’d love to hear how you have been getting on teaching computing in your classrooms as well as hearing about the resources you’ve been using.
Our primary computing schemes provide full, progressive, step-by-step, lesson plans and all associated lesson resources and worksheets using the tools and computing resources included in the table. Visit our website for more information.
Teach Controlling Physical Systems
I’ve been teaching primary robotics for some time now as part of the computing curriculum that I write for iCompute. I teach with and have produced schemes of work for robotics from EYFS to Year 6 using BeeBots, LEGO WeDo, Sphero and parrot drones to name a few.
Whilst teaching computing itself can be daunting for many teachers, the prospect of the added pressure of actual things being whizzed around classrooms through code can push many to avoid the controlling physical systems aspects of the National Curriculum for Computing altogether!
The rapid pace of advances in technology means children are growing up in an age dominated by embedded computer systems and robotics. It is crucial they have an understanding of its impact on the world and their own futures. Teachers need to be in a position to provide pupils with the level of knowledge, understanding and skills they need to live in the modern world.
Including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM subjects) in early education provides a strong motivation for learning and an improvement in progression. Teaching robotics is a great way of connecting with children and enables schools to engage the potential engineers and computer scientists of the future.
Most curricula in primary schools cover science and mathematics, but we need to do more in teaching problem solving, computer science, design, technology and robotics.
The use of robotic systems and robotics as a subject offers an introduction to the engineering design process and sets children’s learning in a fun, meaningful, contexts. The fundamental principles of computer science are applied and made easier as models and devices can be designed, constructed, programmed and executed in front of pupil’s eyes. This makes it much easier to learn what robots can and cannot do: their capabilities and, crucially, their limitations.
We’ve recently put all of our robotics units into one primary robotics pack that covers the controlling physical systems aspects of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 (pupils aged 5-11).
I’m also including some free activities as part of our contribution to this year’s Hour of Code, adding to those already featured last year and still live. As the Hour of Code launches each year in December, I’ll be adding a nice festive twist to my teacher-led activities. Hint: Santa’s sleigh is broken but he has a drone! Here’s a sneak peek of the cover…
Check out my other blog posts for teaching tips and advice about how to manage programming physical devices with younger children. I cover:
The primary robotics pack is now available to purchase from iCompute.
How to plan a Primary Computing Scheme of Work
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.
- Use free software and tools – you don’t need to buy a thing in order to meet the objectives of the computing curriculum
- Practise – helps you understand the knowledge, skills and understanding the software and tools help develop
- Look for progression – you will start to see that particular tools are suitable for specific age groups
- Look for full coverage – Computing is not just about coding
- Understand how to assess computing – know where your pupils are and where they need to go next
- Adapt – make it fit your school, staff and needs of your pupils
Read on to find out more about each stage … Continue reading
Computing Tests & Tasks
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.
Forming part of our acclaimed primary computing schemes of work, our Tasks & Tests pack is available to buy from iCompute.