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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Primary Computing – Celebrate Ada Lovelace Day!

The Magnificent Ada Lovelace

iCompute Ada Lovelace Activity

Click to download

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 (13th October 2020) 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!

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Computing Unplugged

Learn Computer Science fundamentals without technology

Introducing our brand new computing unplugged resources for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Learn the fundamental principles of computer science.without tech!

iCompute's unplugged activities
iCompute Unplugged – Learn Computer Science without Tech!

iCompute unplugged offers teachers, parents and pupils a rich variety of resources enabling them to teach and learn computing inside and outside of the classroom without the need for devices or software. Our resources have been downloaded and used tens of thousands of times by teachers and pupils around the world.

Developed initially as a response to school closures due to COVID-19, the need to equip teachers and pupils with the skills necessary to communicate, collaborate, teach and learn has never been more important.  Our creative, engaging, activities are designed by a Computer Scientist and Primary Computer Science Master Teacher to enable children to develop the fundamental principles of computer science. 

Unplugged for Mastery

Computing Mastery
Computing Mastery

Unplugged activities are part of our principles for Mastery in Computing. The judicious use of activities away from devices and computers are crucial to young children’s learning in computing. Our 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. Find out more about achieving mastery in computing.

The Resources

The resources are divided into activities suitable for pupils aged 5-7 (Key Stage 1) and ages 7-11 (Key Stage 2) and are matched to the National Curriculum for Computing for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 Programme of Study.

Key Stage 1 Unplugged

Our Key Stage 1 resources are intended to be used by children working either together with their families or in small supervised groups. The activities are ‘unplugged’ and intended to be used by children working either with their families or in small supervised groups.  They are split into the fundamental principles of computer science (algorithms, decomposition, abstraction, logical thinking, and generalisation) to help develop the computational thinking skills that lie at the heart of the National Curriculum for Computing.

Key Stage 2 Unplugged

KS2 Unplugged

The Key Stage 2 unplugged resources are designed for teaching groups of children some of amazing concepts that computer science includes. From simulating networks and data transfer using string and sticky notes to ‘crawling’ the world wide web as search engine spiders, they all provide active, kinaesthetic learning experiences and are collaborative, engaging and fun!

Get them at www.icompute-uk.com

Feedback

“The activities are wonderful, engaging and with clear learning objectives”

“iCompute has introduced a more creative way of learning and this has been seen in the enthusiasm of the children”

“This is a very good resource.  Not only for younger learners but for anyone teaching Computer Science.  The exercises practice sequencing, abstraction, pattern generation, decomposition and object relationships.

Why schools must not ignore Computing

teacher ignore computing

Amidst a global pandemic due to COVID-19 now, more than ever, the need to equip our pupils and, crucially, our teachers with the skills to communicate, collaborate, express ideas and learn using digital tools and technologies is pressingly obvious.

The National Curriculum for Computing was launched in England in 2014 with a key aim of ensuring that all pupils “are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology”. Yet, in 2020, many schools were already woefully behind in implementing the National Curriculum and, during the pandemic, it became obvious that many teachers were severely lacking in these areas themselves.

The introduction of the 2020 Ofsted Framework for Inspection and the ominous threat of Computing Deep Dives galvinised many into action early in the year. A welcome push in my view to broaden curriculum focus. School closures put paid to that threat but, with them, came the realisation that, in many settings, the technology and skills required to continue teaching and learning outside of the classroom were simply not there.

The winners in education during these difficult times have been those that were already prepared for remote learning with infrastructure, technology and skills. The losers – our children.

I’ve been supporting schools with computing curricula, resources, teaching and training since 2014. I deal with the most progressive of schools. Those that understand the need for their children to be equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills to participate, live and learn in an increasingly digital world. Their children will thrive. But I worry about the children left behind. Those who don’t benefit from teachers and leaders with the determination and commitment to provide a robust computing education. Those who don’t appreciate that technology has the potential to transform teaching and learning in their schools and choose to put computing on the back burner again. To look at another time. When Ofsted say they’re going to.

Thousands of children in England have missed out on around six months of education. When they return to school, the focus is likely to be on catching up with literacy and numeracy. It is imperative that Computing is not neglected. As the National Curriculum points out “Computing also ensures that pupils become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world.” With the ongoing threat of closures due to local lockdowns, potential pupil/staff absences for sickness or self-isolation, social distancing measures and a myriad of other potential disruptions to the education system – schools must rise to the challenge and put learning with and about technology firmly at the forefront of their planning. Starting right now.

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

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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